I stole his from Pinterest. This post is in honor of it being March 9th, National Panic Day!
Not the actual Everest. That’s a really tall mountain, right? Yeah, pretty sure I would have a heart attack and plunge to my death after about 5 minutes. No, my Everest is the crosswalk down the street from my house. I know it sounds ridiculous, but when you have a mental illness (i.e. anxiety and panic attack disorder), most things do, but you can’t really explain them.
As I mentioned in this post, I used to only have GAD. Just an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and panic, not actual panic attacks. There’s a big difference. If you only have one or the other, you are missing out on a whole lot of fun. Anyway, my first real panic attack was about a year ago when I was walking across the street about ½ mile from my house, just trying to get home from Starbucks. Let a girl have her coffee!
I survived it – barely – but since then, I haven’t been able to go across the street that direction. Just that crosswalk. Others do kind of freak me out, but I can get past them if I walk-run, and even better if someone else is walking across at the same time. The first time I attempted it was only about a week after the major panic episode. The little green walking man lit up, I lifted one foot to put it onto the street, and just froze. I literally couldn’t move. I waited for the light to go through about 3 rounds before I gave up and went home.
Since then, I have figured out ways around it. Not only is Starbucks across that street, but Five Guys, Game Stop, and Cupcakes. CUPCAKES you guys. When I really need a sugar or caffeine fix, I can either take my shoes off and J-Walk across the middle of the street about a block before the crosswalk, or go about ¼ mile down the way and use the other crosswalk. This one just seems shorter and easier, even though it isn’t and my head is just a jumbled mess.
I don’t understand the no-shoes thing. For some reason it helps to feel my feet on the ground. Someone figure out what that means and get back to me.
For about a year, I have been doing this, mostly just avoiding all the things I love. But then a few days ago, I really wanted a 16-ounce, 600-calorie “coffee” and I just did not feel like going the long way around or trying to run across the street, carrying my shoes, and looking like a mental patient. (No offense to mental patients)
My husband convinced me to just walk across the street. As someone who doesn’t have anxiety or panic attack disorder, he doesn’t really get it. And you can’t expect anyone to. He has hypochondria, which I think is just the stupidest illness on the planet, but like I said.. when you don’t have it, you just don’t get it. His advice was, “Just walk across without thinking about it.”
No shit. Think I haven’t thought about that? For some reason, this time I followed his advice and did it. I figured out the trick to it. I literally have to just go without thinking. It’s not as easy as it sounds. If I have to stand there and wait for the light to change, watching cars go by, it won’t work. The longer I stand there, the more my brain wheels start moving. So I have to time it perfectly. About a block down the way, I have to watch the cars and how the stoplights change. If I can manage to get to the crosswalk right when it’s about to change, I can just get onto the crosswalk and make a run for it.
It worked. The first time I got to the other side, I swear to God I thought I just finished a marathon. I half expected someone to run up and give me a medal for my bravery. Nobody was there to give me my reward, so I just self-high-fived myself, and have made it across twice since then.
If you are being kept from something vitally important to your existence, like sugar or caffeine, I suggest just taking off your shoes and making a run for it.