Anxiety just sucks.
Last night I was super excited to go up island for a show. I picked up two friends and together we took off and went adventuring, I drove, we all chatted. We listened to Backstreet Boys and sang along and laughed at ourselves while pretending we didn't still all know all the words. We were having fun.
We got up island and my head started feeling gross - full of pressure, I felt dizzy. I blamed it on the altitude, the water trapped in my ear (for five years), the drive. I wanted to push through it. We went next door for dinner before the show and something hit me during dinner and I started to lose it. I had to escape.
When we went back to the hall for the show the music seemed to calm my nerves momentarily, and then it ended. I started feeling irrational. I started feeling guilty because I had to go home and I didn't want to end their night early.
When I get anxious I experience completely normal thoughts that seem irrational to my anxiety-riddled brain. The best way to describe it is imagine with a clear head you're looking at a taxi and you see the color yellow and this is normal. To my anxious brain I feel the need to justify that yellow is a 'normal' color for the taxi. This goes for everything. Why is that tree so large? Is that how that person's voice is supposed to sound? Is this what I'm supposed to be thinking? It all started to creep and grow in my mind. I had to get out. I had to leave and go home.
My friends found another ride back to Victoria and I took off, driving down windy roads. I headed through Shawnigan Lake, where I'd spent most of my teen years doing debaucherous things. My anxiety grew worse and worse and as I headed through Mill Bay I was flooded with memories of living up island - not unhealthy memories. I felt lost even though I knew exactly where I was. I felt like I should have felt safe and at home, but I felt exactly the opposite.
I kept a close eye on my speedometer, simultaneously terrified of being pulled over, as well as the gnawing uneasiness within me wanting to just speed the entire way and get home faster. I stuck to the speed limit. I tried to regulate my breathing. Every song on my iPod was bringing me to different timelines in my life and I was just trying to focus on the here and now. Looking back, I really shouldn't have been driving. I started experiencing mini-blackouts and kept seeing bright lights shining across the top of my window when there was no oncoming traffic. My throat was dry. I took a sip of ginger ale and my stomach immediately wanted to reject it. There was no turning back. I pulled over.
I felt unending guilt about leaving my friends, about missing the show, I just wanted to be home. I listened to my meditation song, Teleconnect Pt. 2 by VNV Nation, and I did. I listened to that song three times before I felt like I was safe enough to keep driving. I started the car and mentally pleaded with myself, "Just twenty more minutes until you're home, you can freak out when you get into your bed. You need to get yourself home." When I started driving again I realized just how out of it I really was - I was five minutes to the bottom of the Malahat, much closer to home than I thought.
When I hit Victoria the anxiety started to subside. I'm not sure why, maybe because I felt like I was home, or the altitude. I have no idea. By the time I pulled up to my house I felt exhausted, still panicky and shaky, but the exhaustion was taking over. Panicking so badly takes so much out of your body. Even today I've slept in much later than usual and I still feel tired. I'm taking a me day. The sun is shining and I'm going to go grocery shop for some healthy food and practice good self-care and meditation.
Why did I panic? I really don't know. I know that trying to figure it out can waste so much potential energy. Today I accept that I had a panic attack and that is okay with me. Today I accept that anxiety is a part of my life - it is not all of me. I am not anxious - I have anxiety. I am not bipolar - I have a bipolar disorder.
I will remember that my anxiety is my own and that nobody can experience it for me, and therefore I do not have to justify it. It is an emotion that belongs wholly to myself and my being. My anxiety is mine and yours is yours. Yeah, it sucks. Yeah, it can ruin your night.
But today I am accepting of my anxiety and embracing it. I will not let my anxiety ruin my life.