Panic Attack

October 2016

I do not know what is happening to me. I have never felt this out of control before. I guess I have been broken, and now there’s nothing else but insanity pouring of me. Everyday I wake up with arms and legs made of bricks, and a bowling ball for a head. I skip one, two, all of my classes, but I cannot sleep for more than an hour at a time. I wake up in an impossibly debilitating panic: my heart beats out of my chest, my hands shake a million miles an hour, my stomach clenches into a microscopic knot, tears waterfall down my face. I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I’m going to die, I CAN’T BREATHE. In these moments I secretly hope my breath never comes back. I hope I explode. I hope my body breaks down; surely it cannot handle the terror much longer.

On my better days, I eventually roll out of bed. On my best days, I change out of my yoga pants and oversized t-shirt. I find my computer, wherever I threw it the night before, and try to do my homework. But my brain slugs along behind the rest of me. Concentration escapes me. I don’t eat; I’m not hungry. I don’t drink; my lips crumble underneath layers of dry skin. I am a desert: parched, empty, devoid of all signs of life. I want a vulture to scoop me up and fly me away and eat me alive. I want to be snapped up inside a venus flytrap, digested, vanished, without a note goodbye.

I don’t yet know it, but the medication that is supposed to keep me alive—not just alive, but fulfilled, satisfied, whole—is ripping me apart from the inside out. I rapidly switch between being stuck in the deepest, darkest hole of depression to exploding out of my skin in the highest, bone-chilling skyline of mania. Any and every trigger sends me back and forth between the two most intense existences I have ever experienced. Sometimes there is no trigger. And sometimes I become both existences at the same time. Shaking with impatience, but unable to move. Racing to the top of the highest mountain, only to fall straight back down.

I am scared of myself. I don’t know what I will do to me.

I am surely dying, but it’s happening so slowly. I don’t think I can wait much longer. I beg the Earth, the sun, the stars to let me go. I cannot believe in a God who puts me through this torture. Maybe I have already leapt into Hell. Satan slowly scratches through my skin, to my blood, my organs, my soul. And he takes my soul and rips it to shreds and leaves me there alone for eternity.

I can’t decide if I’m melodramatic or psychotic. My brief, ever-lasting time on antidepressants turns me completely mad.

But of course, I do not know the culprit of my increasing insanity. I do not know that what is supposed to heal me instead wants to destroy me.

I am imploding.

*****

I miss my nothingness from the bottom of my crinkling, cracking, collapsing heart. I want to be void of all emotion, like usual.

Before I started going crazy, I talked frequently but said nothing. I stared blankly through my tearless eyes. I ceased to feel. And I was perfectly okay with that.

I want my brain to just shut up.

SHUT UP.

LEAVE ME ALONE.

I crave silence.

Now I feel so much. Too much. I cry so often that my eyes are permanently red and puffy, and I can’t put in my contacts; my eyes hurt so much. Too much. For mere moments I am dry; then the whimpering starts up again. I am pathetic. I let myself become vulnerable for the first time in so long, and I made myself get hurt. I should have never gone to see that stupid therapist, that ignorant psychiatrist. Everything is my fault. I hate myself. Why can’t I just go back to nothingness? Nothingness is calm. It is satisfactory. Yes it is lonely, but I don’t notice the loneliness usually, because I am so consumed in feeling nothing. I don’t feel happiness, but I also don’t feel sadness. A fair trade off. I merely exist and wait until I find a reason to live. To feel exhilaratingly, profoundly alive. Can someone tell me how that feels? I seem to have forgotten. Maybe I never knew to begin with.

I feel myself rapidly devolving. I see things that aren’t real, and I hear things in my head that aren’t me, and I dream up things that terrify me beyond my wildest imagination. I’m jumping and running around and drinking and laughing and smiling and erupting. And then I’m wilting and drooping and sobbing and dying.

And I’m so over it, but it doesn’t stop. I’m positive that it will never stop. Whatever it is, it has taken over me. It has inhabited my body, and it forces me to feel all of these things that I just don’t want to feel.

I crave my nothingness like an alcoholic craves vodka, a binge eater craves cake, a cutter craves razor blades.

Please give it back to me. Someone, anyone.

Can you hear me?

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Misdiagnosed With Depression: A Circuitous Journey to Bipolar

October 2016

Today marks my first ever meeting with a psychiatrist. A good ole crazy people doctor for good ole crazy me.

The psychiatrist turns out to be a sweet, bubbly, round-faced young woman who looks more like a favorite elementary school teacher than a psychiatrist, but in a good way. I like her immediately. Finally, someone normal.

Side note: I get the whole psychiatrist thing. Decent money, and you get to learn about crazy people brains. Way more satisfying than being a therapist, if you ask me. I could do it, if, ya know, I don’t die first.

The psych takes me to her office and gets straight down to business screening me for mental illnesses. I find the process intriguing, yet highly flawed. I wish she could just see what’s in my brain and treat me that way, instead of relying on my responses to determine the problems with my life.

“Have you lost all interest in activities you usually enjoy?” Depression question, I think to myself. How can I be honest when I can essentially pick out my illness based on my answers?

“Do you have constant racing thoughts and worries?” Anxiety.

“Do you believe you have to do something over and over again, like turning your lights on and off or repeating certain words?” OCD.

“Do you sometimes suddenly feel intense negative emotions, such as fear, and physical differences, such as a racing heartbeat?” Panic disorder.

“Do you hate being the center of attention?” Social anxiety.

“Have you ever gone through or witnessed a traumatic event?” PTSD.

“Do you ever feel so excited or wired that you get into trouble and sleep less?” A manic bipolar state.

“Have you ever excessively exercised, taken pills, or starved yourself to keep your weight down?” Anorexia nervosa.

“Have you ever made yourself throw up to keep your weight down, or had periods of binge-eating followed by periods of starvation or purging?” Bulimia nervosa.

“Do you find yourself drinking or using recreational drugs more frequently than most of your friends?” Dependency.

The questions end as quickly as they started, and I wait for the shrink to see right through me, to recognize that I fabricated my responses, based on my hypotheses about which question matched each illness, and that I’m really not sick at all, I just know how to play the screening game.

But she’s not done yet. My psych then asks for my family’s mental health history. I tell her that my mom takes antidepressants. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. Naturally, like mother like daughter, I too am diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder. I know that mental illnesses consistently show a strong genetic basis, so I am not surprised. I’ve assumed I have depression since middle school.

But on top of the depression, the psych gives me a big ole dose of anxiety. I had recently started getting panic attacks before big tests, but I didn’t realize my physical responses differ from any other stressed college student. Oops. Generalized Anxiety Disorder it is.

Self-harm and self-hate and self-esteem, oh my.

The psychiatrist prescribes me Prozac, the exact same medication and dose that my mother claims, “Changed her life” in 2012. And that’s what I need, some serious life changing, if I’m ever going to get out of these doctors’ offices. I’m more than willing to take the pills.

The psychiatrist explains to me all possible side effects, including an increase in anxiety and suicidal thoughts. She mentions something called serotonin syndrome. I crease my forehead. Aren’t antidepressants supposed to alleviate those kinds of things? I think to myself. But I don’t question the good doctor. She tells me that these side effects, if they occur at all, should relieve themselves after about a week.

“And please don’t hesitate to call if you think you’re going to hurt yourself,” she reminds me as I’m leaving.

I snort. Do doctors really think a person who’s going to hurt herself decides instead to make a phone call? There’s no way.

I’m ready to get my ‘script and go.

I wait by the pharmaceutical window at the student health center for a good 30 minutes before I receive my first bottle for my brand-spanking, fresh-out-the-womb new diagnoses. Window lady tells me to take 10mg of Prozac for one week, and then increase the dose of 20mg. Easing into the medication supposedly stifles the side effects. I’m not too worried, I’d rather just get this show on the road, but I promise I’ll take the drugs as prescribed.

“The psychiatrist plans to evaluate your progress weekly for the next month, when the pills should reach their full effect. But it will be an uphill battle. One day you will wake up and realize how much better you feel, even if you’re not perfectly cured yet. I hope you get better soon.” She says this plainly, as if I have a cold or the flu.

I roll my eyes and swallow my first pill in front of her.

~repost from May 19, 2017~