I wrote this piece for a uni assignment a few months back. It is an autobiographical piece about an illness I am living with. It is harmless in comparison to cancer but to those suffering from an anxiety disorder, they will tell you it is like living in hell itself. This is my story.
I wake with a start and try desperately to catch my breath. I can feel my heart pounding its way out through my chest. I gasp for air with all my might and yet something seems to be stopping me. 100, 98, 96... My heart begins to slow and I feel at ease once more. As I roll over I catch the time, '2:09AM'; bright red numerals screaming 'IN THE DEAD OF THE NIGHT YOU ARE STILL NOT SAFE'. I drift off into unconsciousness, grateful for a few moments of peace.
I walk down a large staircase which leads into a corridor. A door closes behind me. I am trapped. The corridor is lined with doors. I open the third door on the left and a man pulls me inside. The man transforms into a cunning fox and we are surrounded by dozens of mirrors. The mirrors begin to crack and the shards launch themselves towards us...
Daylight comes and for a brief moment my mind is calm of all thoughts. Then consciousness hits me like a truck and it all comes flooding back. Anxiety; I am battling a severe anxiety disorder and not one thing I seem to do has any effect on that truth. I force myself to get up and try to make something of this day. You can do this Mel, I tell myself. This is going to be a good day. We might even go for a walk. Then I realise that I am alone and it all begins again.
This anxiety tears me limb from limb as I struggle desperately to complete even the most monotonous daily chores. I try again and again to breathe my way through it but fear overtakes me. I sit flat on my tiled kitchen floor and will my mind to think positively to no avail. My dreaded panic attack hits just as I know it would. '100, 98, 96, 94 ...' This time I count all the way to 54 before I can calm myself. I slowly pick myself up off the cold tiles. It is 9:07AM and I'm already into my second panic attack. I know this is destined to be one of my darker days.
A cat is watching me through the dark night. I look down and it appears that I have lost both my socks. When I look up again I am surrounded by men with machetes. They begin to hack the meat off my bones. I scream for help but nobody comes. I am forced to watch as my body is torn apart...
I wake in a cold sweat but thankfully I am able to breathe. It is 6:47AM as I drag my body out of bed. Today will be a good day, I tell myself. The doctor tells me that a positive outlook is crucial to assist my struggle with anxiety but I feel that nothing can help me now. I fetch my glass and fill it half with chilled water. It is time for my medication; and sadly enough, this may just be my most positive time of the day. This measely chore gives me the only hope I have felt in a long time. I pop the shiny bliter pack of my Zoloft and fumble to remove the tiny white tablet while choosing a single diazepam and swallow them both in one gulp. I go back to bed and wait for my anxiety to subside. The Zoloft makes me feel sick; but I can deal with that. The diazepam makes me floaty. I laugh to myself and for a while I feel as though I could do anything. I push against my desire to sleep; I know that Zoloft will give me lucid dreams. Which do I prefer; I ask myself, lucid lifelike dreams or severe anxiety? I am yet to see the positive in either.
Mum calls and asks me to pick up some groceries for her and I silently fall apart. I don't know how to tell her I am morbidly afraid of leaving the house incase I can't get back if I fall ill. How do I tell my own mother that I am to be left on my own from the fear I may stop breathing and nobody will be there to save me? I cheerily tell her that I'll do as she asks and place the phone back in its holster. I feel so overwhelmed that I begin to cry. These are not tears of upset but tears of pure frustration. At 20 years old I should be out working at a fulltime job, spending my weekends drunk at foreign destinations with friends and out enjoying life whenever I get a spare moment. Instead, I am worrying and making myself physically ill with the fear of fear itself. i just want to scream until my throat is dry in the hope that something might change but I know nothing new can help me; and in there lays my frustration.
I step outside and the sun blinds me. My medication makes me burn so easily these days, I can feel it already. I get into my car and I can feel it begin, Breathe Mel, breathe, I tell myself. I turn the key, start the ignition and with a deep breath I pull away from the kerb. I feel my heart race as I make my way to the main road. 'CAUTION ROAD WORKS AHEAD' flashes at me in bright red letters as my anxiety leaps a threshold. I can feel my body falling into unconsciousness as I am trapped in traffic works. Two minutes feels like an eternity as I try desperately to hold myself together. When I am waved on, I fight back tears of sheer terror. I turn on the air conditioner and try to catch my breath.
Once in town I run into the store focusing immensely on my goal. Flour, milk, eggs, chicken, I mutter, as I search along the aisles. I find everything but the flour. I am looking for that when I feel the familiar tingling and scramble to the counter feeling defeated. Anxiety has won again, sorry Mum but no flour for you. I get to the counter and engage in a painstaking conversation with the sales clerk. How do I come across as 'normal' when I am five seconds from passing out in front of her? I grab my goods and run back to my car. Calm down sweetie, I repeat this to myself for the full five minutes it takes to get home. And for a moment there I feel as thought I actually may be winning.
I am alone in the middle of a deserted construction site. A falcon is watching me from high in a tree. It starts to rain and suddenly I am neck deep in water. I try to swim but my feet are chained to the ground in shackles. I try to scream for help but all that comes out is hiccups. The water continues to rise...
I feel physically ill. There is something wrong with me yet nobody seems to understand. I feel as though everyone thinks I am a hypocrite, I am incapable of living normally. I am so conscious of my breathing that I don't have the capacity to live; to work; to enjoy anything in this world. I shake all the time and I forget what I'm saying mid sentence. I want to run far away and push my body and soul to breaking point just to prove to myself that I'm still alive but I can't, I just can't; my mind won't allow me.
I am a cat; a black, sleek, shiny cat. I am rolling around on the lawn lapping up the sunshine. Suddenly storm clouds roll in and it starts to rain blood. I am standing on an ants nest and I am bitten thousands of times by tiny pin-prick mouths.
My dreams leave me disorientated and frightened. They make me question my existenece and my being. For the third time this week, I have forgotten my name. I start to panic. What is my name? Do I have a name? I feel it again. My fingers start to tingle and my legs give in. I am flat on the floor in a blubbering mess. I pull myself over to my handbag retching for air. I find the valium, pop the lid and throw one tablet down into my throat. I swallow hard and take a sigh of relief. Melissa; that is my name. It belongs to me, how could I have worried about that? The valium takes me to the edges of my imagination. I sprawl out on the cool tiles and try to focus on something positive: air. Just breathe, I tell myself, just breathe. Those two simple words have become my own personal cheer squad, pulling me through my irrational fears.
I am surrounded by all the people I love; my family, my boyfriend, my bestfriends. Suddenly they are all turning on me and I can't understand why. My family pack up the house and leave without me; my boyfriend leaves me for a pretty brunette and my friends stop speaking to me. I am alone in this world...
Life wasn't always like this. I have faith that I will once again be able to control my mood and calm my mind to the extent that I could hold a proper job. I know in my heart that I have a long road ahead of me but I believe I can do it because I want it so deeply. When I get through this I want to be an advocate and a voice for anxiety suffers; at present there is no one to speak for us. I want my experience to mean something; I want to be the shoulder for others to lean upon and I didn't have that myself. I want to whisper in their ears that 'this too shall pass'.