After asking a few of these kindred spirits if they were out of their god damn minds (and obviously, they are), it turns out what draws fellow whackjobs to me is that I’m able to make fun of myself while dealing with the daily downer that is being bipolar with a side of panic disorder.
While I've discussed my depression a few times on this blog, other than little jabs at myself here and there I haven’t really delved into the drainpipe of despair that is living with uncontrollable anxiety. But I assure you, that doesn't mean I don’t find it hilarious.
I've been battling chronic anxiety for seven years. In that time I've lost a few jobs, a marriage, and my social life… so as you can see, there have certainly been some real benefits to the benzo life. Seriously, fuck all of those things. I've moved on to a better job and stronger marriage to lay waste upon, and if I really wanted to strap on my crazy boots and go out on the town, at least I don’t have to worry about appealing the desires of a bunch of fickle ass friends. I can get blackout drunk on my own time, and that freedom alone is worth its weight in tequila.
|What? I'm having the time of my life.|
Since coming down from my Klonopin withdrawal, anxiety has been kicking my ass like it’s a fucking snake on Samuel L. Jackson’s fucking plane. I can only recall one day in the last four weeks where I didn't have a full blown panic attack. And while I know the few people that have stuck close to me mean well, there’s nothing more bitchslap worthy than the phrase, “Just relax.” Holy gee, I can’t believe I never thought of that!
It’s not that I’m actually scared of everything. In fact, I’m kind of a badass when my brain and body can cooperate. I don’t consciously kick myself into “fight or flight” mode, it just happens. While I've learned to recognize some situations that don’t agree with my personal level of dysfunction, most anxiety attacks are completely random. And the situations that do turn me into a hyperventilating fucktard are kind of unavoidable. Like, going to sleep at night.
You see, having an overactive imagination for all things catastrophic causes my mind to take note of every minor change in my bodily functions, and for once I’m not talking about my digestive tract. Sometimes the seemingly simple act of falling asleep can trigger a panic attack; the slight change in my heart rate when entering sleep mode freaks me the fuck out.
Another side effect of being so in tune (and yet so far out of line) with my body is that I cannot accurately judge the severity of any unusual symptoms. Because I don’t want to labeled as a hypochondriac, I tend to wait to seek medical attention until I’m positive of imminent death. Even then, sometimes I give it a few days, just to be sure. Recently I waited two weeks to get paralyzing abdominal pain checked out, because I couldn't tell if it was truly a busted ovary or just a suppressed fart.
Earlier this year I went to see my personal sex god (William Shatner) perform in his orgasm-inspiring one man show. I spent the first half an hour pacing in the ladies’ room, holding my chest to keep the blood splatter to a minimum when my heart inevitably exploded from my chest. When I was a 90 pound teenager I loved being flung around bloody mosh pits; now I couldn't even handle the intensity of a Kenny G concert without losing my shit.
Really any time I’m required to sit down and shut up, be it a movie theater, wedding, a play, etc., I go completely apeshit. Just going to a routine dentist appointment takes at least three weeks of preparation and sedation, and I still end up squirming like a flatulent whore in church while stuck in that chair.
If you've ever had to veer your car onto the shoulder of a busy highway with your knee and use your elbows to shift it into park because your fists are stuck clenched so tightly shut that your palms are dripping blood, you know where I’m coming from.
But a panic attack typically lasts only 20 minutes. While an elevated level of anxiety can last for days on end, the actual “event” that I've grown to become so fearful of is so fucking exhausting that once all the adrenaline I can produce runs its course through my body for no reason whatsoever, there’s really nothing left to worry about. And after that, well, I have to laugh. What else is there to do?
My dad died of cancer; somehow he cracked jokes about his condition to the very end. So I’m a little fidgety. So fucking what?
Some of my nearest and dearest friends are living their lives with very real illnesses. Every day these people muscle through cancer, epilepsy, or Crohn’s disease. And I’m over here all like, “Waaahhh, my body can’t tell the difference between being hunted by a rabid sabre toothed tiger and dealing with the Sunday afternoon crowd at Applebee’s.”
My point is, while I appreciate all the kind words, it really doesn't take any special feat of strength to laugh at myself. There are plenty of times where I can’t bring myself to leave the comfort of my cat-covered couch; I just don’t spout off on the internet about it. But having a sense of humor and being a jittery mess CAN go hand in hand… as long as you can pry that fucker of a fist open.