anxiety · mental health

Barely Holding It Together

The past 24 hours have been… immeasurably difficult.

Last night, I had a panic attack after having some very uncomfortable and never-before-felt chest pain out of absolutely fucking nowhere. I took my blood pressure and the measurement was the highest it’s ever been – like, cardiac event high. This, unsurprisingly, scared the shit out of me and triggered an hour and a half long attack that I only just barely survived without going to the ER. Half an Ativan, two aspirin, a frightened walk around the block, and much reassurance from both my spouse and mother later, I finally accepted I would likely live through the night and went to bed.

Today, I woke up crying. Crying and crying and crying after a dream where my dead dog Eevee visited me. I decided I would go for a hike – I’m supposed to do this at least once a week for my Local Flora class and getting out of my apartment, being in nature, doing something sounded like a good way to break the crying cycle.

It all went well and good until I was literally ten feet away from the parking lot, getting ready to get back into my car. A sensation like a sting hit me on the back of the neck so abruptly I screamed and jumped. Suddenly, my mind was racing a hundred miles a minute thinking about how people who are allergic to penicillin (like me), very often have a similar reaction to bee stings. Terrified of anaphylaxis, I bolted to the car and immediately took a Benadryl. I tried to call Nicholas, who accidentally denied my call (he was sleeping), then called my mother. I sped to an Urgent Care only to realize Google had actually sent me to a regular physician’s office, then slightly reassured by the fact that my only symptoms were a little bit of redness around my neck (maybe from the sun, me rubbing it, who knows), and my discomfort, I yelled at my mom to keep Googling symptoms as I peeled down the freeway at 80 mph back home so I wouldn’t be alone.

Once I made it back to the apartment, for a minute it seemed I would be okay. Until I heard what I thought was a wheeze – my throat squeaking – and the panic was reset all over again. I woke Nicholas from his nap, demanding fearfully that he take me to a doctor, then tore out of the apartment to sit in the car and wait for him. As I sat there, I tried to get my Maps to work but it wouldn’t. It seemed like a sign. I felt stupid. I took a few deep breaths. I stared at my reflection in the mirror. When Nicholas finally made it to the car, he looked at me and I burst into tears, admitting, “Maybe it is just panic again.”

After driving around for a while, I finally accepted that I wasn’t immediately dying. We got back to the apartment and I took a nap on the couch. When I woke up, I showered off all the bug spray and sunscreen from earlier. We ate mac and cheese and watched anime. It seemed like I was going to be okay. I had a little bit of a Charlie-horse in my leg when I woke up (still do), but nothing was swollen, I was still breathing, maybe I could relax.

Now Nicholas is back asleep and I’m sitting in the dark, illuminated only by my monitor, waiting for the half a Benadryl I took to kick in and maybe encourage me to sleep, too. My anxiety is simmering precariously. I’ve relapsed into an old habit of pushing my tongue to one side so I can better feel the air passing through my mouth. When reaching for the half rather than the whole Benadryl, I thought, “What if it doesn’t last the night and this barely controlled allergic reaction finally hits? What if there’s some kind of venom still working it’s way through my system? What if? What if? What if?”

These most recent events are the worst my anxiety has been in ages. I don’t know why now. If I did, I would address whatever was causing it. I should probably meditate but I’m genuinely afraid of it for some reason. Again, the why is lost to me. Were it not for my classes, I may have very well committed myself to inpatient treatment so severe is my anxiety. I haven’t even begun to think about class on Tuesday. I pray that a good weekend of being around my friends helps me out of this rut and I’m back to normal on Monday. Either way, I’ve all but decided I probably need to go back onto some kind of medicine. My therapy appointment is fatefully scheduled for July 1st. I can’t remember where I said it (Facebook, maybe?), but I had decided that if my anxiety didn’t improve by the end of June, I would go back onto an SSRI. Past Carly would probably say something along the lines of, “It’s a metaphor, you potato with eyes.”

Truth be told, I’d start it today if I could. As I stood outside of what I thought was an Urgent Care today, I had resigned myself to asking for a prescription to Lexapro. Just now I yawned and it sounded like I squeaked for a second. Half of the reason why I’m writing this is as some kind of prayer to the universe that it’ll relieve my present anxiety. I have the other half of the Ativan from last night in my pocket but I hesitate to combine it with the Benadryl.

Before I took the Benadryl, too, I thought to myself – should I just take the Ativan instead? But taking it last night is truly a sign of what desperation I had been driven to. After last year’s brief dependency on Xanax, I want to keep Benzos at arm’s length at least. I’ll survive another night. I think the first step is to stop running away from facing it and finally meditate. I can do this. One breath at a time.

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