What am I doing besides being exhausted.
What am I doing besides being exhausted.
People use the phrase hyperventilating a lot. Even me. I see crazy things, or fangirl about something and say, “oh my gosh. this is amazing. I’m hyperventilating.” And I’ll breathe heavily.
Now I will never do that again, because I know what it is like to actually hyperventilate.
I didn’t actually catch on that I was hyperventilating until I got back to my apartment. You can talk when you hyperventilate. But it’s at about 5 words per minute. You sound very deep and like the squeaky kid who just hit puberty, except way, way worse, because you also sound terrified. I don’t even think I comprehended that something was wrong with my breathing. The only thing I felt was that something was wrong.
When we breathe in, oxygen comes into our airways. From the airwaves, the oxygen moves into the bronchi, which are the branches of our lungs. The smallest of those branches are the bronchioles, and at the end of the branch are little sacs alveoli. Capillaries by the alveoli will take the oxygen and the alveoli will exchange CO2 that goes back out.
Hyperventilating is when we take in too much air. Too much oxygen is coming in. The alveoli are overwhelmed. They send out more CO2 to compensate–more than we even have. All this overbreathing causes our blood pH to rise.
So I knew what was going on, I just didn’t recognize what was going on. I was a mess. I knew I was embarrassed but I couldn’t even comprehend my own embarrassment. I was at work, surrounded by coworkers and strangers alike. In my head I knew these other workers cared about me but I just needed to get away. My direct manager came after me and tried to calm me down but it did nothing. He said he could take me anywhere, hospital or home, but I was not too enthusiastic about the hospital idea (hospitals and I have not gotten along). I think I knew inside that this was something that was going to pass. That didn’t pause my terror though.
I got a hold of my mother. Gosh, I am so incredibly lucky to have the parents I do. They drop everything for me. First, I thought maybe I needed to scream–to much oxygen was coming in and I was thinking the scream would get rid of it. It worked for about a millisecond. When my dad got on the phone was when I finally was able to say “I’m hyperventilating.” That was when the plastic bag came out, the breathing in and out into it. That really helped it.
All of my weird things were caused by stress. If you’re stressed, your tastebuds can alter around and that’s where the metallic taste came from (though I probably should still do a better job of brushing my teeth). Your lips in return can also become swollen in dry, which is what happened the morning of the panic attack. The memory lapses? Stress. Stress can cause you to lose track of where you are and forget basic things. I should have known this because I’ve heard from people with EDs that went to the hospital after becoming a skeleton of a body, and while they were there they didn’t remember much basic things, such as how to count. The fighting parts in my brain? A little bit of psychotic medicine for me to go along with my unsustained eating habits, sleep deprivation, and extreme stress.
I know this whole thing is a physical as well as mental thing, yet I will never stop learning and being surprised by the extent of how much stress and anxiety can ruin you.
I spent the week at home but I am back in school now. This morning I went to work and it was okay but I a bit awkward with one of the managers who was there when it happened initially–it should all pass though, I think. I hope.
This will never happen again. I will never have that kind of extreme panic again. I will not let myself get to that point again.
…maybe if I say it enough times, I will believe in it.
It’s been a while since I was here.
Last Tuesday, I had a terrifying experience, but I have to back up a bit before I begin writing it all down.
I began to get stressed beyond my own comprehension. I hate admitting that I am stressed. I hate the possibility that my schoolwork can be causing me stress. I hate that I am probably stressed out because I care.
It started with a week that looked like this:
This was my own doing.
In the weeks before the first week of November, I had gone through a pretty traumatizing time that I recorded somewhat on here. I was unable to get out of bed and I was missing everything—class, quizzes, etc. I was lying about my sleeping through everything. I slept and I slept and I was suicidal, so maybe it was better that I slept anyway. The fatigue never ended. It never slipped away.
On the next to last weekend of October, I went for a run. I used to be a runner. Running changed me as a person. Running is a spiritual practice to me. Running is much more than exercise, is the pursuit of moving and pushing the human body, and involves adventure. I stopped running a while ago however because my knees hurt. Actually, this is just an excuse. I lost interest in all the things I was interested in. I don’t have any motivation to exercise. I don’t know what got me to do that. I always feel good after a run. But I am intimidated of starting one.
Enough of the whining about running: the point is that I went running, I had time to contemplate, and I really wanted to do better.
I don’t know if I really recovered from that last episode but during that run I thought I had, I thought I was ready to move forward and do things. I was happy when I did things. That last week of October was hard. I had a lot of work due but I trudged through it. I remember thinking, just one week of hell work, then halloween, then one more week of hell work, and then chill out for the rest of the semester. I partied on Halloween with friends (I have those!!) and the next morning, my favorite month began.
Obviously, I did not follow through on most of the schedule. I missed the shower. My hopes for my NaNoWriMo story went down the drain—I would not have the time or commitment to do it. I was up past midnight, not even back in the apartment. I was in the art studio or the 24 hour library. I had fun at work, and I worked very hard. On Wednesday I was exhausted and I slept through my evening commitments. I tried to make up for it. I skipped meals or just plain wasn’t hungry to eat anything.
I struggled to sleep. This was no change from the past. I wet the bed at some point, though I think it was before November. This is the second time that happened. The other time was early this past summer. It’s very embarrassing and I didn’t really have a great explanation for it. This time my mom wasn’t here to help me take care of it. I didn’t have a lot of energy to change sheets or let the mattress dry. I would come home and my room was a mess of sheets. I didn’t sleep well. It took so long to get rid of the urine smell.
In the second week of November strange other things began to surface, starting on the weekend. I went to visit a family friend on Saturday. I had so much homework too, but I went anyway because I knew it was something I needed to do. It was terrible. There were so many people who were spending so much time judging me. I was out of place. There were not supposed to be that many people. My anxiety skyrocketed. Usually, my depression trumps my anxiety. The anxiety took the wheel for the rest of the week. I was unusually more anxious. I got confused easily but I thought that was just me being me. A metallic taste began to surface in my mouth, and I attributed it to my bad dental hygiene. The memory lapses were the most terrifying. At work, one of the managers said “what did you say?” I told him I didn’t say anything, but he was positive I did. It was so odd. Then began the talking. Talk, talk, talk in my head that wouldn’t end. It was like my mind was on fast forward. I could not stop my thoughts. I was having conversations in my head with other people, friends or something, about honestly anything—politics, society, life, etc. I think part of this arose because I had opinions and thoughts to share but no one to share them with, and my brain was getting tired of that. I was talking to myself all the time. Constantly looking down mouthing words.
On Wednesday or Thursday was when the two minds appeared. Maybe before that, actually. One was me, chiding myself, the other was me, being a loser. It was terrible. I kept telling myself to stop stop, stop talking. I wouldn’t. I did the stupidest things. I once put down my backpack and I couldn’t find it again, and then I put away my chargers and couldn’t find them again, and then put away, etc etc and couldn’t find it again—after just 20 seconds. Then, I would find it right where I left it and get so mad. How could I have not seen that? What the hell are you doing? Why are you wasting so much time? Why did you put it there anyway, that’s a stupid place to put it. What the fuck! You are so stupid and annoying. Shut up. You have no friends.
I couldn’t concentrate in class because my two sides were arguing. The only time it slowed was when I was at work and when I was working on my art project. There was one other time though as well. I was at my volunteer job at the library and I was presenting a program. I put so much of my effort into it and so much attention toward the students. It was a major success. I knew something was wrong with me, I could feel it. I missed my therapy session on Thursday because I was doing work, so there was no way to stop it.
But, on Monday after the program, the worst lapse happened. On the drive back, I felt disoriented, and when I got out, I went to pick up my bike, which was parked outside the 24 hour library from the day before. I struggled to open the D lock for a moment—it was dark and raining. I called myself stupid. I got it open, and thought, yes, finally, you idiot. And then, I walked away. I forgot what was happening. I went to my apartment and realized it later—where was my bike? I had unlocked it and then walked away. It was unlocked. It was dark and raining outside and past 1:30 am. I knew my bike probably wouldn’t come back. I was terrified and scared at what I had done. How was this possible? How could I have forgotten this? Something was really, really wrong. I would tell my parents tomorrow, I really would. At night I did not sleep a wink. It was true insomnia. I closed my eyes and rested but never slept. I felt afraid and couldn’t shut down the thoughts. I was being tortured. I worked all night to calm myself. I got up for work in the early morning.
In the morning I was still trying to calm the thoughts. I went to clock in but I forgot how to do it. Yes, I’ve been doing this job since August and I actually forgot how to clock in. I just didn’t know. I thought they had changed something. It took me far too long to figure out how to do it. I had forgotten something else. It was odd.
I threw myself into the job that day. My managers were lazier than usual and the lead was just standing there. I felt like I was doing a lot of the work. But it went fine. I did a good job, I really did. When the shift was over at 10:30 though, I didn’t want to leave because there were unfinished things. I stayed until 11, I said I would.
I made it to 10:50. And then I started to cry. And hyperventilate. In front of everybody.
I lost my mind.