At 2am this morning, I woke up with my heart pounding, my head aching, and my right eye twitching. (The headache was to be expected after my seventh consecutive night of drinking; the other two symptoms I couldn’t understand.) I drank some water, took a Tylenol, and ate cold gyoza. No good, I still couldn’t go back to sleep. I felt STRESSED OUT. But why? It had been a wonderful, relaxing weekend spent with friends – drinking, eating, browsing the farmer’s market, rock climbing, engaging in casual microscopy, watching roller derby, weight lifting, playing on big toys, doing yoga, and hanging out at the spa.
I thought making a list of fears/issues/concerns would help shed some light on my physical symptoms, the idea being that I could then brainstorm solutions for each issue and fall back asleep. As it turned out, this was a VERY BAD idea. I became manic. I suddenly remembered that I’d failed to respond to my mom’s call from the day before. What did she want? What was wrong? Was she okay? Was Grandma dead? Did I do something wrong? Did she open my mail and discover something horrible? I imagined all the worst scenarios and was half-convinced they were real. And what could I do? I couldn’t call my mom at 3 in the morning – that would be crazy – so, I waited until 4.
My mother, being a saint, picked up. As it turned out, my concerns were not wholly irrational. She had called the day before to give me some very bad news about someone I love very much. I immediately began bawling. I cried and cried and cried. Then, I apologized for waking her, hung up, and rapidly fell asleep.
What I had was an anxiety attack, I think. (Although in the midst of it, I was convinced I had AIDS, a brain tumor, and was going crazy.) My first. It shook me pretty bad. (A lot of first-timers end up in the emergency room, convinced that they’re experiencing a heart attack.) Thinking about it now, I am embarrassed. I usually pride myself in being so cool-headed.
Some ideas to ensure that it does not happen again:
- Get more exercise (yoga, climb, walk, run, bike, swim, lift, dance)
- Consume less booze, sugar, and coffee (especially the first – it’s been a rough month.)
- Catch up in biology and chemistry now, so I won’t worry about upcoming tests
- Take a break from reading the news (women’s rights issues right now are making me see red.)
- Maintain boundaries with homeboy
- Draw, write, meditate, read, and cook
- Live in the moment, breathe deeply, and stop thinking about what may be.
- Take a break from volunteering, school, caregiving, and research (not one of them is worth giving up my sanity.)