I remember the first time I had an anxiety attack.
Perhaps it wasn’t the first time ever, but it was the first time that I had one and recognized and named it, and had the help of another person to calm down.
We were talking about a scary movie. I don’t like scary movies. I might as well clarify that now. I hate them. I hate feeling scared or jumpy. I scream when people startle me by walking into a room unannounced. R touched the back of my neck the other day and creepy chills ran down my body. She eventually stopped after I repeated myself, but I didn’t find it as funny as she did. I don’t like being scared.
People seem to think it’s funny. As if I’m so strong otherwise that I must be kidding around. Why do people always think you’re kidding when you protest something? I say it’s because they’re projecting their own needs or wants on you, and they’re just looking for an excuse to get their way. That’s how people get raped.
Let me say this right now: when someone says, “stop,” you need to stop. I don’t care if you’re playing or teasing. If they say, “no,” if they protest, you need to stop immediately. It doesn’t matter why or when or how. STOP.
But I digress.
Essentially, I hate anything that scares me. Blood and gore do not scare me. But cruelty does. Other things scare me as well, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll stick to cruelty. Sickness of the mind, perhaps. Hurting other people for no other known cause than to please oneself.
I don’t watch shows or movies that have that aspect to them, for the most part. However, one of my friends wanted to go see this Halle Berry movie. In it she is a 911 operator and takes a call about a girl being kidnapped. There’s a lot more to the plot, but that’s the premise I was aware of when we went to see it.
Little did I know, the girl was not only kidnapped, but dragged out from under the bed that served as her hiding spot, raped, and murdered. This was the first ten minutes of the movie.
After that, Berry’s character resigned from phone operating and became a teacher. She then had to take a call as a girl was kidnapped by the same man and woke up in the trunk of a car. We got a bit further into the movie – the kidnapper/rapist/murderer killed a man who got in the way – before I finally caved and searched on imdb for the plot summary. I found the parental guide and read that there were many more gruesome scenes to come.
At that point I began to feel sick to my stomach and insisted that we leave. I recall saying something along the lines of, “If we don’t leave now, I’m going to start crying hysterically.” I was completely seriously. It’s happened before with much less provocation.
After that we did other things, but essentially that’s the end of that story. The bigger story, however, is when I was telling this to a guy I was “talking to.” (Dating? I don’t know what to call it anymore… Is it still dating if you don’t actually go on dates, just stay over at his house and watch movies and talk and cuddle? Someone please explain this to me…)
This guy, S, is pretty magnificent. I mean, he’s seriously amazing. Anyone would be lucky to spend time with him, let alone date him. He also happens to be a Psychology major. Thank goodness for that, because when I started freaking out, he knew exactly what to do.
I won’t explain precisely what happened because, honestly, it was fairly intimate and it’s a fuzzy warm memory in my brain that I selfishly want to keep to myself. It’s amazing that I consider the memory warm and fuzzy considering it was prefaced by an anxiety attack (not a warm or fuzzy or remotely enjoyable experience, for those of you that want to know). But I will tell you that he used a few methods to help calm me down.
I don’t know where I was going with this. Maybe I just needed to write it out. I was prompted by an article on Everyday Feminism talking about a woman’s experience with her anxiety (much more severe than mine) and dealing with it through yoga. (Why Yoga Is a Lifestyle Choice For Me | Everyday Feminism)
I guess my point in writing this is to express how thankful I am to have had someone there that knew how to help me. I hadn’t really had anxiety attacks before then, but I have breakdowns all the time. They usually occur in a bathroom stall and consist of sobbing and rocking back in forth curled into a ball alternated with streaming tears and hugging myself tightly, wedged between the porcelain and the wall. The last vivid memory I have of one of these breakdowns is from about a month before the end of the school year. It was probably about midnight and something triggered me in the coffee shop, so I left quickly and went to the bathroom to let everything loose. The building was almost deserted, so no one heard my wracking sobs and came to investigate. I just recall going over people in my mind that I could call to help or that I wished would suddenly walk in to save me. But as I scrolled down the list of beloved companions, I couldn’t find a single one that could properly comfort me, let alone be someone I would want to walk through that door.
Now I have that person. I mean, I don’t have him. Obviously. We aren’t dating and we haven’t spoken since the end of the school year. He’s very much too busy to put time and effort into dating me. But now when I have breakdowns or anxiety attacks, S is the one I think of. I don’t know if that’s good or bad, but I think my therapist would be proud of me for even letting myself be that vulnerable in front of someone.
In the comments, tell me about a time you went through a breakdown or anxiety attack, and who you had (or didn’t have) to help you!