Thursday, February 21, 2013

Panic attack

This is the last day that I'm allowing myself to freak out. For a while now I've been overloading myself with responsibilities. The most treasured time of my day - the evening - has been monopolized by random (fun, yet time-consuming) events that I have felt compelled to attend. Instead of coming back to my room each night after dinner as is proper, I've left the comfort of my dorm around 6 pm each night and not returned until 8:30 or 9 pm. As a result, I've made my legs go numb multiple times, made my lips chapped over and over, dried out my hands, etc., until all I can think of is how lovely it would be to just spend one morning, afternoon or evening hanging out in the solitude of my bedroom watching television. No responsibilities, no classes, no extracurricular activities, no nothing.

Television. I haven't even been able to watch any of my television from this week. Usually by Wednesday night I've caught up on The Bachelor, Bunheads and The Mindy Project. All I have left at this point in an ordinary week is Parks and Recreation (and 30 Rock before it ended).

Right now I have an episode of The Bachelor, an episode of Bunheads and an episode of The Mindy Project waiting on me. Then tomorrow there will be a new episode of Parks and Recreation on in the evening, plus a new webisode of Burning Love and another of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

At this point you're probably saying to yourself, "this girl has no life."

Well, you'd be correct.

I'm not ashamed. In fact, it's having no life that keeps me sane.

These past few weeks have been really difficult for me. I've been broken up with, had to take a midterm that I hoped I wouldn't need to, found out that my friends will be living in an apartment without me next year, been made to schedule in tons of extra hours of work on top of too many hours of class each week. On top of everything, today I found out that my class schedule for the spring was being switched around without my previous knowledge and I couldn't do anything about it.

It was the straw that broke the camel's back.

At lunch time, after finding out the news, I tried to meet with an adviser to help me organize my thoughts. She was "too busy" and thus couldn't meet with me to work through my schedule. The interaction with the receptionist at her office reduced me to completely uncalled-for tears, and as I walked out I thanked her for the help and ended up sobbing to myself on my way to lunch.

In a few minutes I realized that what was going on wasn't just emotions. I was having a mild panic attack.

Without the ability to talk through my scheduling conflicts, without anyone around to give me a hug or remind me that things would be okay, I was being bested by my anxiety. Weeks of sadness and stress piling up were no longer tolerable.

I've never had a panic attack. I never really knew what it would feel like to have one. To be honest, it didn't frighten me too much - probably because it was mild - and I self-diagnosed pretty quickly. My breathing was quick, punctuated and difficult to reel in. I started crying even though I knew there was no rational reason to cry.

I made a fool of myself. A construction worker walked past me as I cried whilst crossing the street and he laughed at me. I walked into the dining hall for lunch knowing that I had to relax in order to ease the pounding my chest, but I couldn't betray my own appearance. I looked perturbed. It felt like everyone was staring.

Calling my dad on the phone was the only thing that kept me from just slamming my head on one of the dining hall tables. I had to let the feelings go into the phone and with a kind and loving listening ear on the other side, I was able to work through things.

Going to class 20 minutes later wasn't easy. Sitting through a film in that class wasn't easy either. But after a couple of hours had passed, I had all but forgotten what had transpired earlier. My class schedule still wasn't figured out, all of the troubles of my past few weeks were still there, but at least I had control over myself.

I've taken that for granted lately - that in these times of difficulty I have always had control of myself and my faculties. Today I felt like I was losing that control. It was lack of control over one of the most simple and fundamental aspects of my life that made the world fall apart around me. Just a little change in my schedule - accompanied by hours of time no longer used for winding down and enjoying myself this week - tipped me overboard and left me drowning, struggling back to shore.

But I made it back. And I'm convinced that nothing in this world will ever have license to make me panic again. Call me a control freak, but when it's the difference between having a say in my own life and letting everything fall apart around me including myself, then I'm drawing the line.

I'm lucky that I had my dad to listen to my explosive sadness this afternoon. And I'm lucky that after today I no longer have to worry so much about extra responsibilities. For this weekend at the very least, I'm going to try and live for myself a bit. Distractions and hard work may be good for getting your mind off of things, but not if they make you go out of your mind.

This is the last day I'm allowing myself to freak out. From now on anything that gets to me will not be allowed any power over me. Stupid trivial things, like what happened today when a schedule change almost completely destroyed my plans, should have no place in my heart. I give them no place. I'm moving on.

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