The anatomy of an anxiety attack
It is 7:45 pm. Eastern standard time. Monday evening.
The audition is at 8.
The audition that I have been clutching to my chest for weeks and perhaps even months.
The audition that has been acting as my talisman to keep me moving forward forward forward and to not stop moving because if I stopped moving the enormity of my depression would get a chance to engulf me. I could feel it nipping at my heels.
It is now 7:47 pm. Eastern standard time.
My husband is delayed. He was caught up at work. He will not be home until 8:30 pm. I have no one to watch my Tiny Human to allow me to leave the house.
I am going to miss my audition.
I am going to miss my chance and though it may seem small and trivial to hopefully everyone else in the world, it was for a fleeting moment, my world.
My chest seizes up as I watch the clock turn to 7:50 pm and then 7:51.
My breaths come in gulps and I feel the water pool onto my eyes. Tiny Human is downstairs watching tv and will undoubtedly hear the commotion that is about to escape from my body but there is no time to shield her. It is coming and building and suddenly
I am on the floor.
I am curled up in a shape that some call fetal but I feel more like a lima bean or one of those snakes that eats its own tail. I am sobbing and gasping for breath and clawing at the skin on my arms.
My skin feels hot, itchy, too tight. I am not meant to be in this skin. Something has gone wrong. I am not supposed to be here.
I am moaning words. Do I get nothing in this life? What have I done to deserve this? I cannot do this any longer. I will not do this any longer.
And, just like that, depression takes the opportunity to wrap me in her cold embrace. To whisper to me, that’s right. You get nothing. You are nothing. This is all you will ever be and it’s not enough for anyone.
We lay there for some time, my depression and I. My heavy sobs slow to quiet whining. My gasps for breath punctuate each moment. I stare into space, feeling how excessively heavy my limbs feels against the floor.
Anxiety has passed the baton successfully to depression to run the remainder of this relay race.
As my chest loosens up and the air flows more freely, I am aware of the child. She is sitting on the bed, above me. She is watching me, without alarm or fear.
Mommy, why are you so sad?
We have spoken about this before, you see. I let her see the sad. I shouldn’t, and I know this, but it is something I do.
“Everything”, I tell her. “Everything is making me too sad and I couldn’t stand. I had to sit down here on the floor for a second.”
Everything is making you sad?
It seems so trivial when a child repeats it. Surely not everything; but I couldn’t articulate anything in particular. It was the world. The world presses down on me, brake checks me.
I simply nod. “Yes, love, everything.”
Silently, she climbs down off the bed and curls her small body inside of mine on the floor, mimicking how I can only imagine she would have been while inside of me for those 9 long months.
I wrap my arms around her tight and realize, of course of course of course, that she is my talisman.
The next day I get an email from the director at the community theater. There is a specific role they have in mind for me and would I still be interested in reading for it?
Screw you, depression. I get something.