I had to write a piece to read aloud in class today. It is the last day of the semester and that is our only assignment. This is what I came up with:
Perfecting the Panic Attack
After my last episode I decided to fully shut myself in. I couldn’t take seeing or talking to anyone, anymore, for any reason. Even my therapy sessions have been over instant messenger. Stepping outside my front door for the first time in three months I knew that I was up against unfathomable odds. “It’s just a trip to the gas station” I kept repeating to myself as I climb into the car that I knew would start because I had requested of my brother to make sure that it was serviced while I was in my self imposed exile of all things human. This was an excellent first outing as I knew I could pay at the gas pump and avoid conversation. People looking at me and the idea of me looking at them was daunting. Eye contact is the most excruciating pain I have ever known.
As I pulled into a pumping spot I got out of the car and kept my head down. I was nearly finished topping off the tank when a man walked up behind me with my car keys in hand. “I believe you dropped these miss.”
As I grabbed the keys his bare hand touched mine. Now, I am not a germaphobe. I would rather lick the pavement under my feet than have him touch me again. Contact with the man sent me into an attack. I began the prescribed ritual of breathing in through my nostrils and out of my mouth. I was supposed to be breathing slowly and evenly but I could not. “Breathe slower dammit!” I thought to myself as I felt my head lighten and my mind lose control. I knew what was coming.
Fifteen minutes later I was being loaded into an ambulance in the care of professionals. All the poking and prodding done by these folks has never bothered me for a moment. I know that I cannot die when I am on a stretcher. After being released and sent home I took two weeks before I made another attempt at leaving. Things went pretty much the same way. The third time was a carbon copy of the first two. Over a period of months I was able to tolerate short outings without attacks. I still had them, just not so frequently. I was beginning to know the EMTs by name. I think they like me. One in particular named Rob is my favorite. I know his schedule now. He gets off work at 11pm. Tonight I am planning on dressing in my new outfit I bought online, the one with the low neck. I’ll go to Starbucks and sit in a squishy chair and strike up a conversation with a stranger. This way, when I pass out I cannot get bruised or dirty. I think if I can force an attack at 9 o’ clock I will be released just in time to ask if Rob will assist me out on his way home. It’s a fool proof plan.