That’s where I gave up. If I couldn’t even check the mail without Xanax, I couldn’t survive day-to-day life with a fetus swimming around in my uterus. Would it drown in my adrenaline?
That pint-sized brain of mine, tucked inside my skinny little body that wore a hefty neon pink and yellow backpack, heard only one thing: you could have done better.
As soon as reports of my fellow classmates securing jobs began to roll in, I discovered something else about adult life. Nothing I did in college mattered—not my major, not my degree, and pretty much nothing I even learned (especially since I went to a liberal arts school).
The scene: a small road off of a two-lane state highway in the woods. The cell phone coverage: first none, then a single bar. My panic state: full blown.
I was laying down in my car, following the EMT-in-training’s instructions to avoid sitting up or moving around, and I was scared nearly to death. I shook, I gasped for air, and I palpitated.
I hated every single second that slowly and dreadfully crawled by. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even conjure up the energy or the clarity of mind to reach for my Ten Rules for Coping With Panic worksheet that lives in my wallet. I was in the middle of nowhere, I was stuck, and I couldn’t escape without help. Not only was I about to receive medical help, but I’d had to call my husband and ask him to drive 40 miles to be with me.
The word kept repeating in my head: failure failure failure.
Twenty minutes in: rocking out to Modest Mouse and eating a peanut butter cup. Thirty minutes into the drive: nausea, a racing heart, and a vivid expectation of death.
I wanted to re-frame a breakdown into a breakthrough.
I can’t panic now, I thought. I want to pay this parking ticket. I have a hair cut appointment in a half hour. Then, I need to grade some more papers. I’ve got shit to do. Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.
I didn’t give the fear time to pass. Instead, I sat, waited, and got angry at myself. I sat, waited, and wondered why I wasn’t calming down as quickly as I wanted to be. I sat, waited, and grew flustered as my body continued its jet stream of adrenaline rushes and wooziness.
And now, you don’t just have to take my word for it — I’ve got video proof! Check it out here.
I sincerely hope that it brings a few folks within the viewing area to my blog — especially my posts about my own struggle with anxiety might help someone to feel a little bit less alone.
This is probably the right time to tell you a story about one of my last grad school classes: Intercultural Communication. After a semester of learning about various cultural traditions and value orientations, my professor took a few minutes at the end of our very last class to discuss something personal: living in the moment.
It was May, and graduation was right around the corner. The class was filled with undergraduate seniors and second-year grad students — most of whom were about to be finished with school forever.
His speech went a little something like this:
We can’t continue doing things that we don’t like or things we’re not meant to do simply because popular phraseology commands that we strive onward.