Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – June 12, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – June 12, 2004 – So how you ask is my panic disorder today? It’s alive and well thank you very much for asking. I seldom have full-blown panic attacks anymore but I’m frequently. The symptoms at time are more acute than at others. I don’t do well in public places.
I like to arrive last for events, unless I can arrive early and leave before anyone else gets there. If I’m in a restaurant I hate facing the door because I don’t like to see anyone I know – I don’t want to be noticed, unless of course I see them first , then it’s okay. I feel comfortable around total strangers because then I don’t have to interact with them at all.
As soon as I see a police car in my rear view mirror I think I’ve done something wrong and immediately imagine being arrested and tossed in a jail cell. Whenever my Broker pages me at the office, my first thought is that someone has lodged a complaint against me or one of my deals has gone to hell in a handcart.
I imagine being stuck between floors in an elevator and then plunging to an untimely death – screaming all the way down the elevator shaft. I like to know the fastest way out of public places. Every aircraft I’ve ever been on was doomed to a fiery crash (probably over water – I can’t swim – as if that would be my only worry).
When I’m driving I think the guy on the other side of the road is going to veer over into my lane at any minute. I’ve had imaginary symptoms of every disease known to humankind. I want to go crashing out of situations in which I feel uncomfortable. I want to hide or simply vanish. If I could, I’d apply for the position of invisible woman. What fun that would be.
What will happen … when will it occur … how will I cope … what if I can’t deal with life … will anyone care … will anyone help me … what if I look like a fool? Anticipatory anxiety is such a total waste of one’s life energy, but a very real thing nonetheless. It leads to anxious moments over many things that ultimately never happen. It also encourages avoidance of any person, place or thing that might cause anxiety.
That in turn leads to a very detached and lonely experience of life. Always covering up – hiding – pretending to be other than I am – wishing I was not affected by this silly, childish affliction. Wondering if it will ever go away and being afraid that it won’t. I don’t want to be found out. I don’t want to lose control. What will people think? If people really knew who I was, I would be found lacking – a fraud.
Ultimately this is a beast with many heads. Slowly but surely I’m becoming acquainted with all of them. Not that I want them as friends – although that might not be a bad idea – but the more I confront them, the better equipped I am to cope with them. Laughter has always been my greatest comfort in the face of panic and anxiety. That, and the knowledge of how far flung this condition is, and how many men and women are affected by it.
I no longer feel as isolated as I once did. I know I’m not about to be committed to a house with no windows and doors. I’ve told some of my friends about it and no one has recoiled in horror. Rather, people have been surprised, interested and supportive. It’s not going to kill me (unless my brain tumour explodes) and facing it has bolstered my inner strength and ultimately my self-esteem.
Perhaps one day I’ll cease to care what people think, what may or many not happen and how I will or won’t be able to manage any situation in which I find myself. When that day arrives, I’m going out to get a new tee-shirt, but until that happens, I’ll just wash out the old one that says “Panic Central” and carry on with my life.