The Hidden Village of Aspergers

January 29, 2014

Anatomy of a panic attack (in the style of Katniss Everdeen)

Filed under: mental illness — kankurette @ 10:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

(Note – I’m a fan of Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series and was recently reading Mockingjay, which gave me the idea for the style of this post. Also, I’m going to warn for mention of self-harm and eating disorders.)

This is what happened last night, and I’m still recovering.

I’m at work. 8pm: Everton are playing Liverpool at Anfield. I check the score on the BBC website: 0-0. Half an hour later, we are 3-0 down.

Something snaps.

I am crying and cannot stop. I am the only person in the office. On Facebook, my mates ask if I am OK. I tell them that I am alone, reassure them that I am not going to do anything stupid, even though right now I want to go to sleep and never wake up. Thoughts flash through my mind. I am surfing the web, looking at TV Tropes, and the pictures of cute anime girls set something off and I am thinking of my dad and high school and everything is getting too much and I just want to hide under my desk. The office is warm and I am too scared to go home. Scared of what I might do. I am trapped in the office. Should I just go to sleep here? But I am out of coffee and shampoo and I need to go home. I remember how I broke down screaming and crying at the Space gig in Birmingham, and how Tommy Scott hugged me and calmed me down and made sure I was OK. I wish he was here, or someone. Dad. Mum. Richard. Anyone. I don’t want to be alone. Not like this.

It takes me fifteen minutes before I am able to leave work. I am not kidding when I say I have to force myself to walk to the door. Turn off the lights, set the code, lock the door. Then out into the open. The air feels cool on my face. Every step is heavy. I briefly consider flinging myself into the canal.

Panic. My chest suddenly goes tight and I can’t breathe. I have some kind of air hunger – something is sitting on me. Crushing my chest. I take shallow breaths. Still crying. Cross the road, walk past the building site, up Whitworth Street, onto Oxford Road. Pull my hood up on the bus so no one can see me. See the crazy woman crying. I flick through songs on my iPod, but am unable to concentrate. My eyes are red, my hair is sticking to my face. At Sainsbury’s, I buy batteries, shampoo, other things including cookies which are going cheap. I need comfort food.

I get home, and check the score. 4-0. I am almost numb with misery. I pick up a kitchen knife. Better get this over with. Slash my arm four times, one for each goal, the last wound being deeper than the rest. Blood streams down my arm as I hunt for plasters and bog roll to stop the bleeding.

I cannot go on Twitter. They will be laughing. Laughing at me. The stupid bitch who supports the wrong team. Telling me to cry more. Kill myself. Look, the blues are quiet tonight. I must be quiet or I will say something stupid. Something regrettable. I cannot let them see me like this. I know my friend Gina will be worried, so I make sure to tell her on Facebook that I am OK. At least, I am alive. Whether I am OK is debatable.

Blood is dripping onto the floor. I throw away the bits of paper from the plasters, the antiseptic packet. I grab a j-cloth and wipe the blood off the desk, off the floor. The wound is still bleeding and I have to change the dressing. I get antiseptic. Wipe off the blood which is streaming down my arm. It stings, but I must endure. Then I peel the plasters off the largest wound. They are red and wet, soaked in blood, and the sight of it makes me cry even harder. The wound smiles up at me. I rip off pieces of bog roll and hold them against the wound. I want my mum, but she is in Cambridge.

I mindlessly shove chocolate cookies into my mouth and vomit them up. Eventually, a kind of numbness sets in. I feel nothing. I am hollow and empty. Emotion has drained out of me with the blood. I start to feel exhausted and weak. I just want to go to bed and forget today happened.

The next day, I wake up with a headache that doesn’t go away with codeine. I eat the rest of the cookies and vomit them up, and try to sleep but the man who does my garden is here. I ring my mum. I eat lunch. I call in sick to work, pick up my meds and go back to bed.

I am still in a bit of a daze. Still unable to believe that I did something so stupid over something so petty. But then it’s the littlest things that set you off. Sometimes things build and build. And then you snap. Even now, looking at football things makes me feel sick and shaky. I don’t want to add it to the list of things that set me off.

Now I am waiting for the Nytol to kick in. Not enough to kill, but enough to help me sleep.

January 1, 2014

And 2014 begins.

I am sitting here, in my kitchen, playing Farm Heroes. The happy, smiling faces of the cartoon fruit and vegetables make me sad for some reason. I think it’s because I’m feeling a little flat and empty after spending time with my friends and family. Post-Christmas comedown and post-exertional fatigue (I’ve not been exercising, but I have been busy) has kicked in; I just want to sleep. I’m amazed I even can sum up the brain power to type this. I didn’t go out last night because of it. I just stayed in and watched Wayne’s World.

So, 2013. It’s been hit and miss. On the plus side, I met new people, went to Barcelona alone and had a fantastic time at Primavera. I became a lot closer to my stepdad, not that we weren’t in the first place, had a fun time with the family at Ness Gardens (rain notwithstanding), got to see a football match for the first time in years (it was Cambridge United, not Everton), and saw more Space gigs than you can shake a stick at. The last gig I saw was on Halloween in London, and after talking to him backstage, Tommy Scott got me to come onstage with him for The Ballad Of Tom Jones. We both hammed it up, and afterwards, he gave me a hug and told me I’d done the song proud, while Franny Griffiths smiled at me and Phil Hartley also gave me a hug backstage, and the audience were great. I still can’t quite believe it happened.

On the down side, my best mate moved to Oxford, I had a horrible panic attack at a Space gig, my mum went into rehab, I stopped going to synagogue because choir stressed me out, and I had to deal with problems at work, delusions and paranoia. A good deal of it is to do with Space. I find some of the band very hard to read and worry that they dislike me and do not appreciate me coming backstage, although Franny did say at the Hebden Bridge gig that he was cool with it. Then again, they haven’t told me to fuck off, Franny actually got somewhat irritated with me when I called myself a ‘dumb whore’ and told me to stop putting myself down, and the one time I did get kicked out of the dressing room, all the other fans who were there got kicked out too as the band were getting changed, which is fair enough. I also rely on alcohol as a coping mechanism. It’s not a case of being starstruck; I know Space are only human. It’s more a case of worrying a lot about appropriate or inappropriate behaviour and how other people might see me.

Communication is a problem I have in general, and when I’m able to gather my thoughts more coherently, I’ll blog on it, because sometimes it’s like trying to navigate my way through a forest, blindfolded. I’m not always good at expressing myself, I can’t always detect nuance and like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games, I instantly suspect the worst of people and find it hard to trust others. I have to remember that just because some people hated me behind my back, and were only afraid to tell me how they really felt to my face because they knew I was mentally ill and feared I would flip out, does not mean everyone is like that.

I have plans for this year. I’ll be going to Space in March, at London, Liverpool and Manchester, and aim to get over my fear and paranoia. I’ve also got Nine Inch Nails and Primavera Sound coming up – I’ll be going back to Barcelona – and I plan to go down to Cambridge for my birthday, as well as visiting my auntie Chris, my dad’s sister, at the end of this month. I may well be going to Berlin as well – I haven’t decided yet. Hopefully there will not be a repeat of the unpleasant experience at Schonfeld Airport.

Also, I had a bit of a meltdown at Christmas when I got into an argument with my mum. She wants to get me a cleaner, as I have trouble taking care of my flat. I admit I have mixed feelings about this; I’m worried some of my friends will hate me for it and call me a spoiled brat, and I feel guilty for not being able to clean as much as I would like. I admit it; I am not a tidy person. I put cardboard and plastic in the recycling bins, I cook and wash the dishes, I change my sheets weekly and do my laundry regularly, I hoover, I clean the lav (again, not as much as I should), but it’s not enough. I haven’t cleaned the skirting boards, I barely wash the floors or dust. Mopping makes my back ache, as does any work on my knees. I think it’s a case of feeling like I can’t be that bad, that I’m not disabled to the extent that others are and I’m privileged and it could be a lot worse…and then the tiredness hits and I can barely think straight and I just want to crawl into bed. There’s a lot of internalised ableism and foolish pride going on as well. I’m still ashamed to admit I need help in some areas. When a lot of your friends are mentally ill and/or more understanding than most people, you become so used to that world that you almost forget how the majority of people see you. Cutting my arms and pouring boiling water over them at work seems normal to me, as does throwing up in the toilet after a binge…but to other people, it can come across as a bit scary.

I’m staying on the Venlafaxine for the time being. I’m not 100%, but let’s be realistic, I’m probably going to be on meds for the rest of my life. Still, I have some control over the delusions; when the Liverpool fans on my Facebook and Twitter sneer at Evertonians, I have to force myself to remember that it’s not personal and they’re not trying to get me, for instance. Hopefully it will get better. Fingers crossed.

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