It caught me off guard.
They always catch me off guard, despite 6 years of experience.
I thought, “Are you fucking kidding me?”
It doesn’t make a panic attack any less frustrating. less annoying. less inconvenient.
I googled “What to do when you have a panic attack at work” (because, yes, after 6 six years of this shit I still don’t always know what to do). It’s hard to tell yourself “breathe, take a walk, relax” when your thoughts are going so fast you can’t comprehend what’s wrong. I texted James. I ignored the tightening in my stomach. The lump in my throat. The quickening of my breath. I started at my computer screen and willed my brain to keep working, keep plodding. It’ll go away.
Spoiler alert: They never go away. It’s like ignoring a scratch.
Then the crying. Is there anything worse than crying at work? (Okay, yes, TONS of things, but it still blows.) I stay silent and face away, hoping no one hears me or sees me and comes by my cubical. (Cubicles are not ideal for panic-attack crying jags)
I try a quick journal, but it backfires (negative self-talk permeates my panic attacks).
I email my manager and I say I’m not feeling well. I did not say “I’m having an anxiety-induced panic attack about what a failure of a human being I am.” Somehow, I don’t think it would come off as well.
30 minutes later, I’m sitting in a grocery store parking lot as I furiously eat 20 McNuggets and listen to my audiobook. My favorite coping mechanism. (Notice I did not say my healthiest coping mechanism). I drown out the rapid-fire thoughts in my head, reminding myself it’ll be over soon.
I get home. It’s over. I pet Guinness. I fire up my laptop, put on the Princess Diaries, and begin working.
James comes home, bubble tea in hand. He hugs me and says he’s sorry.
I breathe. Another day.