Update 12/7/09 - I wrote the post below the jump late at night. I almost deleted it when I was done. I'm glad I didn't now, because it makes the post I'll upload later make more sense.
When I wrote this, I had no idea how fucked up I was. I had no idea that this wasn't all in my head. I was on the edge of a cliff, but I didn't see it then. All I can say is thank god I read the clinical trials data for the medications I take. And thank god I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired, and asked to be taken off the medication.
I have a confession to make. And if you don't want to hear about my issues, if you're here for the rest of the blog, then skip this post. In fact, if you aren't fond of psychological stuff, feel free to skip it, too. No hard feelings. ^_^
I get panic attacks. Terrible, crying, uncontrollable panic attacks. The kind that leave you completely incapacitated for hours at a time. The kind that can make you break out in a cold sweat just remembering them. They don't happen every day, or every week, or even every month. When I've got life really under control, I can go months without a single one.
But then, something will go wrong. Things will begin to shift the other way, and I'll start going into panic attacks a few times a week, or even a few times a day. I can't control them.
When it gets bad, they control me.
Sometimes, it feels like the worst part is that I can see them coming. It's like being tied to some train tracks, watching a train come racing toward me. I can feel it beginning, but no matter how hard I try, I can't stop it. I can slow it down, put it off for a little while, but I'm not much more coherent when I'm pushing it off than I am when I'm in its throes. It takes so much effort to keep it at bay, to keep my fingernails scrabbling at the edge of sanity, that I can't function. When I'm actually having the panic attack, it's even worse.
If you've had a panic attack before, you probably understand. If you haven't, I'm not sure you ever can understand, not really. When it starts, there's no "growing a backbone" or "sucking it up" or learning to "stop being a sniveling crybaby." It's like someone injects liquid terror into my veins, and the terror seizes control, and throws me into the back of my brain like a child in a car theft. It's not a question of will power, or mind over matter. It's not a case of poor little weak me succumbing to a bit of stress; I can't prove that one to you, so you'll just have to take it on faith. Because seriously, why the heck would I lie? Here, of all places? Lies are for hiding things we don't want people to see. I can tell you, because you're anonymous. I can say this here, because you don't know me personally, you can't run off screaming for a shrink, to get me a freakin intervention.
If I'm going to be brutally honest, I have another confession to make. I don't usually talk about it, but there is, sometimes, an alternative to having a panic attack. But honestly? It may be worse than the attacks. I can turn myself off. Not in the sexual sense, but in the existential sense. Sometimes, if I have enough warning and I just can't go through another panic attack, I can turn off... me. I can dump my emotions off a cliff, wrench myself out of reality, and go through life on autopilot for a while, then eventually drift back together later; a few hours, or maybe days later.
Sounds like a relief, doesn't it? Sounds almost cozy, when the alternative is a panic attack.
Oh dear lord, it's not.
Because somewhere, a little part of me sees me drifting away each time, and it screams.
If this disturbed you, then I apologize. It wasn't my intention to hurt anyone with this. Take it as a work of fiction, a psychology student examining the mentality of annihilation states. It's a fascinating topic, especially since it's such a difficult psychological state to get a case study for that is willing to talk to a researcher.