I originally posted the following essay as a Facebook post, but I thought I would also put it on my blog, because I hope that perhaps someone might see this and know they are not alone and that they aren’t losing their minds as I did when it happened to me.
I generally don’t issue content warnings, but I am making an exception in this case as it may be triggering for some. I am going to talk about my first panic attack and descent to depression thereafter. This was inspired by hearing Ari talking about their experiences on the SJW Circle Jerk.
I should preface with saying that this panic attack I am describing was the the first one that was induced by substance use. I actually had one when I foolishly smoked too much of the that potent Amsterdam weed. I went there to visit when I lived with my Dad when he was stationed in Germany. The feelings were the same but only temporary.
So on to the first “chemical imbalance” experience. I was sitting there drinking some cheap wine because I was too young yet to buy alcohol on my own. I was only 20. I was living with Stepmother and my then baby sister. Dad had gone to Omaha for a job and they were going to join him and I was planning on staying in school in Montgomery and staying with a friend. So anyway I am just sitting there drinking when all of a sudden this wave of utter terror overcame me. I had no idea what was going on because I was just sitting there and there was no external cause. I had this overwhelming feeling that I was going to die and my throat felt like it was closing up. For some reason I thought gargling salt water would help, which obviously didn’t do shit. I considered calling an ambulance because I really thought I was going to die. Keep in mind that I didn’t know anything about mental illness and the internet wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today so I couldn’t really look it up. So finally somehow I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep.
Thus feeling of terror only diminished somewhat over they next six months. It was replaced by a background feeling of hopelessness and nearly overwhelming anxiety. Nothing was done enjoyable. I lost a lot of weight. I even cut out caffeine and smoking because I thought that had something to do with it. Luckily I was a on break from college so that was OK. I basically just stopped going to work because I couldn’t muster the energy to move. They basically fired me because I stopped showing up. At one point I went to a doctor on base and they gave me Buspar which did nothing except make me lightheaded. I finally just gave up on the idea if staying in college at AUM and came back to Nashville to live with my mom. It was through her love and assistance that I finally got to help I needed and started taking Zoloft. Eventually I emerged from the darkness a started feeling semi-normal again. So that is a brief synopsis of my introduction to mental illness. A couple of things I wanted to mention that I felt during this time
- I felt disassociated. Things didn’t seem real and I felt like I was a ghost
- I got this strange fear that I was going to go blind. I think this is a from hearing Terry Gilliam went blind temporarily due to stress when he was directing a movie. This is a feeling I deal with to this day on occasion.
- I couldn’t leave town. A friend wanted me to go out of town with him. I got like a half an hour out of the city and I told him to turn back. I was afraid of being away from the hospital in case something happened.
These are just a few of the things. I am don’t want to keep y’all longer. But this shit is real and anyone who tells you that antidepressants don’t help like Tom mother fucking Cruise should be kneecapped.