Thursday, June 9, 2011

This, On the Other Hand, is No Fun at All

I looked up this video, "Panic Attack", to start out the entry, as most of these seem to start out with music videos, and this came up in the results:

I get you, Mark. I totally get you.

That being said, I'm pretty sure I don't have schizophrenia. Pretty sure.

Anyway, this isn't about schizophrenia, this is about panic, which is back on the rise in my life.  For a while I was trying to figure out what the problem might be, so even if I couldn't fix it I would at least know what I was reacting to.  Then I remembered that, way back in the day, back in jr. high and high school, this happened all the time.  Most of my college career I've had so many things to worry about that I forgot my panic goes on whether there's actual worries to be had or not.

Things really had to calm down for me to panic like this.

Now I know I talk about high school and below a lot, but here's why: my college years are stupid and generally not fun to talk about.  Freshman year was potentially the worst year of my life.  Transitioning from a tiny school I'd gone to my whole life and known everyone to a still-small-but-still-larger-then-where-I-came-from school full of strangers was hard for someone with next to no social skills, and it basically took me the whole year just to find someone I could talk to and genuinely smile at (a friend, so to speak).  Sophomore year was dramatic as all hell because I had friends during it, and a decent portion of it was spent going through withdrawal from escitalopram because I'm a great decision maker who stops her meds cold turkey without consulting her physician.  Junior/senior year (I graduated a year early thanks to PSEO and overlapping humanities majors) was all about finishing my thesis and getting into a grad school I shouldn't have been getting in to once I got back from my term in the UK.

I did blog about studying abroad, and you can read that here if you want to.  The last week or so of the trip isn't on there, though, because I went to Ireland with some friends and immediately after getting back had to fly home, and thanks to layovers and a cramped plane seating I some kind of crazy-intense superflu on my way back and pretty much just laid around stuffed up and helpless until I went back to school in January.  Good times.

And most of what happened after undergrad is on here, so there.  But back to high school.  I will stay on topic here, no matter what.

Disorganized thoughts and "jumpy" thinking are, by the way, symptoms of schizophrenia.

So, high school.  I panicked a lot in high school.  The first panic attack I can remember having was in church, which is perhaps a bit telling, but at the time I had no idea what was going on and it was awful.  I tried telling my mother what happened afterwards, and she identified the episode as a panic attack.  Then I started having them all the time.

If I could describe one, for anyone reading this who doesn't know, a panic attack is like when someone turns the television or radio up so loud that nothing can exist in your mind anymore but the sheer sound of it.  You can't process anything except that there is loud and it should stop, so you pound helplessly on the remote buttons (which under any other circumstances you could operate perfectly) until you by some fluke hit the right one and turn the volume down.  A panic attack is exactly like that, except instead of noise it's fear, and there's no remote.  There's just yourself.

Sometimes I had situation-specific attacks (read the entry on Barbara Walters if you want an example of that), but more often then not they came on randomly when I was doing things like eating lunch or drying my hair.  I got really good at having panic attacks because I had them so often.  It got to the point where I would feel one coming so I'd just find a quiet place to have it out, then get right back to whatever I was doing before.  Once I hit college things got much worse and I had them so often that I was almost always trying to get away so I could panic privately and freely, but there was a difference.  I was panicking for a reason.  Things were stressful and difficult, but knowing the why behind something can make it a whole lot more bearable, so I was almost happier since the attacks were no longer seemingly baseless.

Fast forward four years.  There's nothing going on anymore, and I'm back to the old style out-of-nowhere panic fest. 

So far I haven't had a no-holds-barred, death-feels-imminent-even-though-it's-not style attack, and for that I'm grateful, but that doesn't mean one isn't sitting in the wings just waiting to pounce.  In fact, I'm sure one is.  Life is lived inside one's head, and mine it seems is not wired to sit quietly, even for a second.

In either jr. high or high school, I can't remember which, we learned about depression, along with some other psychological disorders.  The symptoms list for depression was so vague and all-encompassing that lots of people in my class started feeling like they might have it.  Anyway, I think I've just done the same thing with myself and schizophrenia.  It started as a joke but now I'm really reading about it and freaking myself out.

Paranoia is another symptom.

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