I’m quite stressed right now, as I’ve explained a few times.
I’ve started having panic attacks again. They’re disturbing my sleep, because I am afraid to go to sleep. The thought of wilfully consigning myself to darkness makes me feel panicked in itself. Taking my medication helps, in that it knocks me out, but I’m scared of lying there in the dark waiting for it to take effect. So I take it earlier, and this is partly, I think, what is leading to sleepwalking. I’m not properly asleep or properly awake and I don’t fall asleep in the same way if I take it then stay awake and active. My brain is still going and between those cracks from the panic.
A trick I used to employ in the past, when I was having racing thoughts and finding it very difficult to concentrate, was to turn something on in the background that was vaguely intellectual and wordy, like Rawlinson End. To explain why I found this helpful is difficult. When I’ve had racing thoughts it’s been when I’ve been keyed up. In those states I get rather obsessive. My thoughts tend to race around the same topic or word that seems quite important and my brain very quickly makes connections and repeats things over and over and OVER. It gets distressing and incredibly frustrating. In the gaps- split second gaps- I try to latch on to something verbal. Namely, whatever I’m playing in the background. That way it breaks the stream a little. It tends to send me off on another one, but it’s a brief relief.
I’ve been doing that again recently- currently it’s More4- because it’s comforting. It gives me something to concentrate on. I hate panic attacks. And I thought that maybe I was getting them again (I’ve had one today, I had two yesterday) because I was anxious and under stress. I am doubtlessly both, but that’s not it. The things that have made me stressed come from changes in my life. I am looking for a job because I am well enough to work now. I am not entitled to benefits because I am living with my boyfriend, someone I have loved- with knowing or not- for almost half of my life. I am stressing about university because I’m well enough to go, and stressed about not wanting to go to either because I worked my arse off and hoped I’d get where I wanted to go. The trouble finding a job and university stuff does make me feel like arse about myself but it’s stuff that will get worked through.
The nature of the panic is OH FUCK I’M GOING TO DIE. I’ve had panic attacks of this nature to a fairly disabling degree three times in my life. They were almost always before I had episodes of being high. It was like my internal motor had started speeding up and becoming more aware. The first time was before my first real episode of, “What the fuck is happening?” when I was sixteen. The second was when I was falling in love with someone and I regularly launched myself across his bedroom with panic. The third was not long after I left hospital.
This period, I think, is not due exclusively to anxiety. It is part happiness. I am stressed and I’m worried but I’m not unhappy. I am overwhelmed with the really-realness of life. Life is changing. I’m quite sure that the person I’m with right now is the person I am going to marry, have children with, die with. That thought doesn’t make me anxious, it makes me calm and happy. But there is an end. An end and there is no avoiding it. How can things end? How can someone hold you with arms that rot and die? I can’t bear it.
Robert was around at a panic attack the other day. I lay down then suddenly my heart just flew out of my mouth in a scream. He came in and held me and I told him that I don’t want to talk about how I felt, because there is no talking out of it. It is and that’s it. Larkin got it right, “Death is no different whined at than withstood”. When I talk about it, I panic more. So he talked to me of the cats and their silliness, of squirrels and tea. I asked him to make some tea then leave me be. I had a book with me I couldn’t read (Age of Extremes by Eric Hobsbawm, for the interested) because what was the point? Who needs knowledge or history when it’s swallowed up by dust and nothingness? When even there is an end to the world and not just my world and yours? What is the point?
I sound like a teenage goth, but this is not coming from depression, quite the opposite. I thought about my friends, my family, the people I love. I thought about Francesca’s raised eyebrow as she smokes, blowing it out the side of her mouth before stubbing it out and reaching for her vodka, coke and lime, I thought about my brother’s grumpy expression when my mum refuses to turn the television over from CSI:Somewhere, about the vest-tops Michelle wore when she was younger, about Paula’s flat, cute shows, Stephen’s wispy baby-boy hair, Orlaigh being drunk nearly all the time and Robert’s tendency to grab my bum when I’m asleep to exhort that I’m beautiful before turning around and almost knocking me out of the bed with his arse. Even his snapping at me because he can’t find his glasses. I thought about it all and I couldn’t bear it. Lovely people, moments, life, not there any more.
I thought about suicide, for the first time in a long time. I have tried to explain before how suicide can be due to factors other than depression. Death doesn’t frighten me when I’m depressed. I think about dully. Suicide isn’t the great wrenching of control, it is just dying and finally no longer feeling the way I did. (And living, no longer feeling the way I did, because it does pass, which I forget in the tortuousness stretched hours of depression).
But in these moods, of blind panic, of the prickled-skin hyper awareness of being alive, suicide comes to mind because then I know what is happening in death, and why, and how, and when. It’s the last two that knock the breath out of me. As I was making a cup of tea today I calculated how many years I would have left in my life I was lucky. Double figures, how can it be double figures? How many more summers? More days? There is a number that is finite and it is the end. There will be a date I will die, like there is a date I was born. In the ground. In the ground. In the ground.
Against that thought suicide seems like a kind option. At least you know- but you don’t know. I can understand why perfectly happy people, in a moment of panic, commit suicide. If you feel as though, in that fiery moment you are dying, then it makes a kind of sense. And why so many jumpers have the wrenched shoulders from grabbing something as they fall.
I want to turn these feelings around and think, “Yes, then it doesn’t matter that we have no money, or what university I go to, or if I have children or not”. But it is difficult, because even though I’m struck with the panic, life goes on. My boyfriend’s grandfather is dying. I went with him to visit him and although we were there, equipped and dumb by that knowledge, life goes on. Someone is dying but not dead. It is hard pressed to be a dramatic situation, sitting in a quiet, country living room eating coleslaw. Minute by minute ticks oblivious that last minutes come and the ticking stops. There is still the sun at the window.
Anyway, there’s an entry I wrote to distract myself. Make it sound pretty and then it isn’t so frightening.
Filed under: Bipolar Disorder