Friday, August 15, 2008

Be Kind to Those Who Flip Their Shit

My savvy but blunt friend, Etienne, asked me the other day kindly what was on the side of my face. "Um...yea I broke out. I'm your basic pimple factory this week," Was my response. He grinned at me and said, "Stop stressin!". What the hell did he know about breaking out from stress? He's a grown, 30 year old man. He doesn't have to deal with jumping hormones or static emotions. He doesn't bloat at the sight of salt, or get red cheeks from worrying about things. I do!!

Anyone close to me knows that I stress out VERY easily. The stress starts at my fingertips, tingling and cold. I can feel it coming on. I ignore it for a few days. I put whatever issue is tapping my shoulder at bay, and try to remain optimistic. Then, like a bolt of lightening it hits. And before I know it, my problem has pimp-smacked across the face. Now that I have no choice by to face whatever it is, panic sets in.

Scientifically, a panic or anxiety attack comes from a person who is basically unable to control the amount of adrenaline that rushes the brain during a state of emergency. That feeling that comes and passes when you hear a loud noise behind you and causes you to jump. Or if anyone has been in a car accident; that feeling that rushed over you right when you heard that fateful "CRASH" and you knew you just fucked up. Anyway, take that emotion and imagine it lasting a good 10-30 minutes. Cold sweats, muscles tension, heart palpitations, dry mouth and the general sense that the walls around you are closing in. When mine hit I usually have a very hard time breathing as well. It's not something I look forward to, it hurts, it makes me cry and feel scared and helpless. All I can do about it is hope it passes soon, try to prevent myself from getting riled up and keep understanding people in my life.

But not everyone understands. People are quick to assume your just a drama-queen. That you just want attention. If only people knew how often I have them quietly or alone. Afraid people wouldn't understand whats happening to me. Afraid people won't care anyway. My least favorite reaction is, "Just try to calm down."

Calm down. Yes, ok. Because I CHOOSE to not be able to breathe or see or even speak and feel as though I'm about to implode. It's fun for me. Leave me alone...please let me ENJOY this panic attack.

This is why I choose not to inform people when they hit. Sometimes I do, when their really bad, and I just need some one to tell me things will be ok, or to hug me or give me a glass of water (or a paper bag...or a loaded

In my experience the only people who really understand are others who have anxiety problems as well. And maybe it's better that way. But if you know someone who has told you they have an anxiety problem. Especially if they don't flip their shit over stupid things (like dishes in the sink or missing their train), please be kind. Educate yourself on what it means to have an anxiety problem, and try to put yourself in their shoes.

My cheeks are permanately red today, my skin is obscenely bumpy, I'm bloated for no reason at all, I'm starting to get a migrane, I have a cough like no one's biz, my muscles are all tight and dry and I can feel a panic attack waiting in the wings. This is not fun for me.


Danny Lowe said...

I don't know what you are talking about. I am 35 years old and I still break out like a teenager.