Unexpected, pure, terror. 

On Thursday night, I fell asleep for an hour, waking up at 1 am, restless and ready to get up and get going. 

At 2:55 am, after watching the clock on my phone, I jumped out of bed and began to immediately pack the rest of my things. After showering and putting what was left, in my car, I spent the remaining minutes adjusting my bikes on the rack for what I was expecting to be a 14 hour straight-shot drive to Utah. 

The first 3.5 hours were okay; they were dark and quiet, the mountain passes were actually very peaceful and beautiful. After my first gas stop, about 1.5 hours in, I was having a panic attack. 

All of the sudden, without warning, I burst into tears. I was alone with almost a thousand miles of driving to do, I had eaten one thing at this point, and I was on an hour of sleep. 

To whatever forces the universe sensed….it was during my second panic attack that my mother was calling me. A fucking godsend. 

She talked me through my final panic attack (number 3) while on the road. I felt like I wasn’t going to make it to even Boise but she stayed on the phone with me for hours while she booked a hotel for me to stop at. I point blank was not going to make it to Utah that day. 

At 2:00 pm I pulled into Boise and parked at my hotel, exhausted. Dropping my head on the pillow, I was out….for two hours. 

I woke to my anxiety in full force and was sent into yet another full on panic attack. Panic attacks are different for everyone in the sense that they are triggered differently and develop and unfold differently. For me, sometimes I pace in circles, I feel like I need to vomit all the time, my hands sweat I controllably but whole body sweats even more. Whether I am lying down or trying to walk one out, I’m hysterically crying, completely irrational, and yet totally aware of how ridiculous I am being. It feels like I’ve binded my chest and then allowed a small child to instill its weight on the front of it. Waves come over my body that feel like death is toying with me, so much force and misery, so unexplained. It’s the same feeling as always having to watch your back. 

So, after being consumed by my fourth one, I called my roommate in Salt Lake City. “Do I get in the car and drive the remaining 4 hours and 45 minutes? Do I stay in this hotel room and take my anti-anxiety meds (which is klonopin, which makes you drowsy, which I refused to take even a little of for this trip)? He was able to talk me down, until my mom called right after him, and I pounded her with the same questions. 

I ended up staying in the hotel room, took half of my meds, and laid in bed, nauseous from having not been able to eat anything and now putting medicine into my body. Laying in bed, I spent about 45 minutes calming down, my body was producing mass amounts of sweat in waves that were accompanied by thoughts of terror. Eventually the waves subsided, my mother stayed on the phone with me until I finally fell asleep. 

I woke around 2:45 am, smiled at the alarm clock, and rolled back over, drowsy with pure sleep. I woke again at 3:45, feeling too good to get out of bed, and fell back asleep. It was so incredibly nice. I was calm, finally. No thinking, just sleep. 

At 6:55 am I woke for the final time, accepting that it was time to get out of bed and start this drive. I literally grabbed my backpack and keys, threw my hair up, and got in the car. My anxiety was present, I was jittery and overwhelmed but I was trying to self talk my way around another panic attack. 

It stayed with me the whole time until I quite literally reached the Utah border. After crossing and coming around to view the mountains I call home, I was so relieved and excited. 

Pulling up to my place, I got out of my car and hugged myself. I jumped with joy, I didn’t care, I was home. It felt so. damn. good. 

Washington helped me come to terms with my anxiety. I spent my three months, self-medicating expecting to notice a difference and although it didn’t do any harm, it also didn’t help. I know now, that it’s time to get the help that I have been denying for months. I’m not ashamed that I’ll be on daily medication, maybe one day I won’t even have to have them, but as for right now, medication is the answer for me. I’m actually looking forward to my appointment-a sharp contrast for myself. 

I know that so many of us deal with anxiety and panic disorders and I just wanted to say that I am so deeply sorry. It’s awful, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, it robs you of your freedoms and happiness. You can get help though, don’t be afraid to admit that to yourself. 

-M. 

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