Just in case I may foolishly think I was “recovered” in amongst all this activity, productivity and positivity, an anxiety attack reminded me that my brain still has that capacity to halt me in my tracks.
My amazing friend was determined to arrange a farewell party for me, with a few of my close friends. I was unsure about this from the start, knowing how I can feel before events like that for other people, never mind one organised where it’s all about me! I just don’t really do that, never have done, don’t have the confidence. But I did think it would be a shame to not try to have a little gathering, so after a number of changes of heart I agreed to let Rach arrange it for me.
I was fine, absolutely fine leading up to it, for days. I’d kept calm for my work leaving speech (none of the anticipated uncomfortableness and wobbling lip! – probably from an approach of emotionally distancing myself a bit for self-preservation) and was fine for my work leaving drinks too, very relaxed in fact.
But the day of the farewell party I inexplicably woke up with that feeling of dread, the one that occupies my mind and won’t let me get on with anything practical whatsoever, like there’s an invisible force-field between me and my life. So that day’s to-do list went out the window, and I just had to mooch in my flat, taking all day to just get myself dressed! Everything I tried to do, I couldn’t concentrate on and couldn’t find the ability to just get on and do even the simplest thing. Whether I was consciously thinking of it or not, there was a mild shortness of breath and increased heartbeat, that anxiety in my chest that just won’t go away while the ‘threat’ is still there.
I’m renowned for being late to things – not very late, just predictably 15 minutes late! – and I now realise it has often stemmed from a slight reluctance to go, even when that makes no sense because I’ll enjoy what I’m voluntarily going to! This is closely related to, but definitely different from, the panic attacks I experienced in the last few months at work. That at least had a logical basis; but this, this is totally irrational. I never used to understand that, but now I know there’s a pattern, and it’s just something that I am learning to accept. Acceptance doesn’t mean it goes away, but it means I can ‘forgive myself’ for being like it, rather than listening to the critical voices in my head, and I can reassure myself on the way there, and manage to get there, even though my threat system is telling me to cancel – run away!
On this occasion, it led to free-flowing tears, making it difficult to put/keep my makeup on, and (bien sûr) making me late! The tears continued to nonsensically brim as I was driving in the beautiful sunshine towards a relaxing evening with some of my closest friends, only drying up properly as I parked the car and walked the 200 metres to the restaurant. Mild distress gave way to relaxation and happiness after only about 15 minutes: my only regret being that if I was comfortable right from the start, I’d have been able to speak to some of the lovely people round the table more than I did. C’est la vie! Crazy brain!