(note: none of these are currently true, to my knowledge)
- If I fall asleep on a plane, they won’t wake me up when we get where we’re going, and will just fly off again with me on-board, specifically, to Denver, Colorado.
- Soreness in my arm means that I am having a severe allergic reaction to my tetanus/whooping cough booster shot, and my arm is about to fall off.
- A co-worker will never speak to me again, because my husband annoyed him.
- That, if traveling in war-torn areas of the middle-east, possessing a purple felt-tipped pen will be indicative of support for the underdog faction, and immediately lead to ones beheading, when ones persons and car are searched.
- I have cancer, and it’s maliciously WAITING to reveal itself, in the worst way and time possible. If I go to a doctor, they will tell me that, and the Countdown to Death will have started.
- Someone has broken into my home, and will shortly find me and murder me.
Sometimes there’s no particular idea that my mind latches onto, only the utter surety that SOMETHING is very very wrong, and everything is about to come crashing down in some horrific way, and there will be no path back. My entire mind collapses in on itself, my heart races, my whole body just… stops for a bit. I have to focus on Just Breathing, not thinking about anything besides inhale… hold it… let it out slowly. Ok, one more breath. I’m okay. Inhale. Hold. Slow release. Slowly the panic recedes, and I can reassure myself that I’m sitting safe amongst friends.
Sometimes, if I’ve found a particular idea to be obsessed about - imminent spontaneous amputation, perhaps - that’s not enough. Last night I woke up, mid panic-attack, and in order to get my head out of the place it was in, ended up trying to remember the lyrics to every girl scout camp song I know. It turns out that I remember 2⁄3 of a LOT of songs I learned some twenty-odd years ago.
Barges, I would like to go with you / I would like to sail the ocean blue / barges, are there treasures in your hold / do you fight with pirates brave and bold? … and if I AM having an allergic reaction, and I go back to sleep, will I ever wake up? Am I feverish? Is this a normal amount of discomfort?… Listen, children, to a story, that was written long ago / about a kingdom on a mountain, and the valley far below … should I wake up my husband? What other songs do I know, oh god I’m running out… The Princess Pat / Light Infantry / She sailed across / the seven seas / she sailed across / the Channel, too / and brought with her / a rigabamboo! What is this song even about?!?
…I woke up again this morning with Winter Wonderland stuck in my head, but at least I had finally gotten back to sleep.
I begin to see where all my mother’s seemingly irrational rules and restrictions came from, growing up. I imagine that having children while struggling with these panicked thoughts could indeed lead someone to constrict tighter and tighter around the people in their lives. I’d like to think that I’m dealing with things in a more healthy way - seeking treatment, taking meds, adjusting dosages (again), talking about the problems I face, rather than pretending that everyone’s fine. I’m a bit broken, but I’m still a person, and still ‘me’ underneath the chunks of panic. I’m still likable, lovable even, and people care about me, and I care about them. Lying about being okay doesn’t really help, and it hurts the people around me, in the long term. I’d rather the people near me knew I was struggling, than think I just suddenly hate them or something, and maybe talking about it means someone else will realize that they might have a problem that is worth getting checked out. We all deserve to be happy.