Yesterday I had one of the worst panic attacks of my life. While driving. To my first day back at school. Sounds fun eh? Do you want to know what happened? Well, if you’re still reading this, I assume that you do. And I’m going to accompany this story with some crappy pictures I drew. In Microsoft Paint.
So yesterday was my first day back at school. Starting third year university – yay! I wasn’t all that excited about my first class, because it’s some horribly boring mandatory sociology class that basically just deals with classic sociologists like Marx, Engels, Durkheim…etc. Anyway…I get in my car, and all is going well…until I have a slight, burning/tingling sensation on my upper lip. This mild, strange sensation had happened the day before, and once before that. I thought maybe my lips were dry, or something. It was sort of itchy…but sort of a burning at the same time. It was weird And then it transferred to my tongue, sort of. Like, my tongue starting feeling a little tingly…or something.
And as I thought about it more, I thought…”oh no. What if I’m having some sort of allergic reaction? What if that new cereal I had before I left for school has some strange ingredient that I’m allergic to? Didn’t this also happen when I ate it yesterday? Was that when it happened? I must be going into anaphylactic shock! Yes, that is it. I am having an allergic reaction” And then I imagined my lips swelling up and my throat closing and my eyes bulging out of my head. And I was ON THE ROAD! I couldn’t stop! There was no where to pull over!
So I ended up missing the street I needed to turn on in order to get the city where my school is located – and then decided to pull into a parking lot. I called my mom, because at this point, I was convinced I was dying.I was convinced I was dying even though I’ve had allergy tests done in the past 5 years – and am allergic to ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
And so yeah, I did what any logical 21 year old woman would do, and I called my mom. She was not pleased that i had disturbed her in the middle of work for this. So she dismissed me and told me to just get over it and go to school. “You’re fine. Just go”. That’s an exact quote. Well…maybe not. Anyway, I thought that maybe I could do it – just get over it. And so I turned around and started to go in the direction of school. But the sensation didn’t go away, and I kept getting more and more freaked out. I decided I couldn’t do it.
So, I turned around and started on my way back home. The itchy lip and tingly tongue had stopped at least 15 minutes ago, but now, because of all the worry (but in my mind – because of this “allergic reaction”) my throat was starting to close up. And then, at at red light…it happened. The worst panic attack I’ve had in YEARS.
I actually felt like I was dying. I couldn’t breath, my heart was racing so fast it felt like it was going to explode, my vision went blurry, I couldn’t focus or concentrate, I considered pulling over and going to my ex-boyfriend’s house, who lived 2 seconds away from that intersection. I considered calling the cops. I considered putting the car in park so at least when I died, I wouldn’t go rolling into the intersection. But then the light turned green.
And I felt okay.
And then I drove all the way back home. Yes, a whole 5 more minutes to my house. And I realized what had just happened.
I had a panic attack. While driving. I got extremely lucky that the worst of it all happened at a red light, and only lasted a minute or so. But it still sucked. A lot.
And it sucked even more that I missed my first day back at school.
And I almost missed my second day back because of my anxiety.
But guess what. Today, I said “screw it!” and went anyway.
And I did not have a panic attack while driving.
And I got over my stupid fears. For today, at least. But that’s good enough for me.