My brain had a panic attack — the Send ALL the Adrenaline kind — while I slept last night. It woke me. Right around 1:30 in the morning, I woke up gripped with the fear/certainty that I was literally dying. When I was 19, I liked eating acid in the middle of the night when I was falling asleep so that I would be forced awake by the trip’s peak. In those seconds that you go from unaware to aware, I would also go from sober to blazed out of my mind on LSD. Having a panic attack in your sleep is like a terrible version of that.
I’m pretty good at telling myself it’s just an anxiety attack and getting through it these days. None of the physical discomfort disappears just because I understand what’s happening, but it makes it less awful if I can keep one little toe from one foot on the ground, so to speak. I still shake. I still sweat or shiver and feel every twinge in my body like the vibration of a death knell, but I have tricks now.
I tell myself things like, “It’s not a heart attack, because you’d be dead already because this has been going on for 20 minutes.” Or, “Stomach pains do not mean you’re full of cancer and about to expire.” And that helps. I call people and ask them to distract me. I take baths, stretch, move my body. Sometimes I just let myself freak out and cry; the only way out is through.
Last night I phoned a friend and popped a Xanax. I don’t like taking them, but I feel like I have as healthy of a relationship with alprazolam as is possible for someone like me. On the rare occasion that I do dissolve one under my tongue, I’m grateful I can.
Today my directive to myself is to listen to my brain and my body. They’re both very, very tired. And I’m more prone to things like blitzkrieg panic attacks when I’m this exhausted.
Tonight, while Facebook scrolling, I noticed a friend who works in restorative justice posted something on her page that listed out the things every month should contain: a lunch date with a friend, a movie night, a day outdoors, a breakfast meetup, a date with your kids, a day to yourself — you get the point.
Truthfully, my first thoughts were: Go fuck yourself with that. A movie night? A lunch date? A DAY TO MYSELF? What kind of privileged-ass… and then I stopped myself, because she’s not privileged. She’s damaged. Beat. The. Fuck. Up by this life. Also, she’s a Black woman with a BUSTLING career she’s built. So I shut it down. She probably doesn’t get to do half of those things in a month either, but the message is valid. Take care of you.
Later on, a close friend messaged to check on me. She said she attended a restorative yoga class tonight and then wrote, “I will go again.”
So my mind is on restoration. Restorative things. Rest. And I’m thinking about friends. The one who posted the list that made my tired, crabby self talk like a belligerent 15-year-old in my head. The one who checked on me and told me about something healthy she did for herself. The one who took my son and me to dinner tonight after I got off work. And the one who answered last night when I was afraid I was about to die.
“Yeah. I’m good. I mean, no. I’m calling you in the middle of the night while you’re on vacation. I’m not okay. But I know I’m okay.”
Then he distracted me and my meds kicked in.
People take care of me all the time, and I try to give it back and take care of them when they want or need it, but the song The Universe is singing to me says that self-reliance, self-soothing, and self-awareness are what I need the most.
Onward and upward, loves. Tomorrow holds another try at everything.