Last Saturday was my birthday, which is why I wasn’t on duty writing for you. Forgive me? Overall, it was an average berthdays some highs some lows. My mom was sick with a stomach bug so she didn’t go to dinner with us which just really wasn’t the same.
But something much more jarring happened. I went to see the movie “I’m Pretty.” I dressed up, I mean come on people, it was my birthday. I went to the first showing of the day because it was cheapest and no one I knew wanted to go anyway. I was basically a pink cupcake, if you can imagine. Arriving early enough I chose just the right seat at just the right time. I missed all the ads which made me happy and we went right into movie preview, which I love. there were some funny one, a scary, one and lots of girly ones because of the film I was seeing.
But just as the movie began I felt the room close in on me and I felt the sensation I hate the most – anxiety. I began digging through my purse because I always have extra pills in there but couldn’t see well enough and had to go over next to where you throw away your unwanted popcorn. I found the container. EMPTY. This was all very bad and then I realized I hadn’t even taken my regular morning meds. Shit. Shit. Shit.
I started shaking and knew a big panic attack was coming, an attack so large I wouldn’t be able to handle it on my own. I walked out of the theater, interrupted the ticket taker and asked for a a manager. He told me to meet her at the front of the lobby. You would have thought I was climbing Everest, my breath was so laborious. An African-American woman met me there and seeing I was in distressed immediately got through the main questions: “Do you need an ambulance?” “Is there someone I should call?” “Do you have a medical condition?”
I was finally able to answer her with a “No, I am having a panic attack. I’ll be fine. But if I start crying don’t freak out.” At which point I began to bawl in the lobby of the theater. A bawling baby-pink cupcake. She called for napkins to be brought to the front and I attem pted to dry my tears, but they just would not stop. Every time I tried to speak she would say “Shhh, baby, you ain’t ready yet.” She also kept telling me that I was “ruinin’ my face” she recognized that I had made an effort to look pretty and there I was with mascara running black trails down my face.
At some point she took my hand, I don’t remember when but it was a good thing. Often when I am experiencing the beginnings of a panic attack I will simply put my hand on someone I trust’s shoulder. It grounds me. So here was this woman I did not know grounding me and taking my panic away.
She refunded me for the price of the ticket so I can try again or wait to rent it. Theaters have always been a place of anxiety for me and it stinks. I love the idea of going to the movies and the popcorn and a coke, but I guess I just can’t go alone. Crap.