An Open Letter to the Lady Who Gave Me A Gigantic Stick,
Last night I found myself wandering on the street not exactly sure where I was going because my vision was tunneling and I couldn’t see through my tears. Then I asked for a stick, and a very kind woman handed me one.
In the last couple of months I have been through a lot of life changes. Most of them good. I also have several major life changes on the horizon. Also, most of them good. It’s no secret I suffer from panic attacks, but I also deal with depressive tendencies. There are some days I don’t think I can get out of bed, there are days I curl up in a ball in a dark unused office and hope I can start breathing normally again, and there are days I leak tears while riding the bus home at night and strangers hand me tissues. On good days I remind myself of the Teachings of The Bloggess, and I repeat over and over that depression lies. I listen to her/myself and I do the things I need to do to reduce the possibility of panic attacks and I wade through the days until the depression leaves, because it does, even if though it tries to convince me it wont.
But on the bad days, my depression feeds my panic. Like last night. After ignoring warning signs, ignoring the fact that I had dealt with many triggers, and ignoring the fact that I right now there are some major stressors in my life, two dogs started yipping at me, and I broke. My thoughts went like this: Two adorable animals hate me, they are yelling at me that I am a failure, they are screaming at me that I’m worthless. And they are right.
Here’s the thing about a full blown panic attack, it feels like an alien has taken over my body and does what it wants. It makes me say things, it makes me react a certain way, and I can’t get it to stop. I see myself reacting, but I can’t get back into my own body, the alien is in control. The frustration of being out of control, and knowing it, add to the panic and things spiral quickly. I was wondering into the street because I couldn’t figure out how to use a crosswalk when a woman called out after me, followed me across the street, and grabbed my hand and brought me back into myself.
However much I know intellectually, and believe wholeheartedly on the good days, that there are people who love me and care about me, in that moment of panic I was convinced, because a couple of dogs barked, that I wasn’t worth much. It took a simple act on the part of a stranger to remind me, that those thoughts were lies. After suggesting I sit down for a minute and get my breathing under control, she walked me home, gave me a hug and recommended I drink some water, eat food, and take a calming bath. All three things I did, and they helped. But what helped the most was the fact that a complete stranger thought I was worth the time to stop and care for.
When she grabbed my hand and she gave two things: a connection to this world that forced the alien to the recesses of my brain and she gave me a gigantic stick to beat back the lies.
Thank you so much!