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Panic Attack

I want to write about literally anything else. I am racking my brain for a subject. Let's see let's see let's see. This weekend I went to a letterpress opening, and I watched two really girly comedy movies, and the weather wasn't so bad, and I coached improv; I'm trying to find a good angle for those things, but all I can think about is how I had a very public, very ugly panic attack last night. I still feel it in parts of my body. I should probably still be sleeping it off, but my cat is like an Insane Clown Posse concert at four in the morning (very loud, lots of black and white).

On Friday, I went to get this body suit painted by this professional dancer/ painter so I could look (more) like a house. This is Mardi Gras-related of course -- I got invited to wear a skin-tight body suit painted to look like a house alongside a bunch of exceptionally beautiful women who will do the exact same thing. I had never been invited to be a part of a group costume before. The invitation made me feel wanted and cool, so I didn't even think about how it involved wearing a skin-tight body suit in public next to other (skinnier) women who would also be wearing skin-tight body suits for easy comparing and contrasting. But there was no backing out once that reality set in, because the suit was already ordered, so I went to get it painted. 

When I got to the painter's house on Friday, no one else was there, so I got to talk to the painter. It took us about an hour before we started to talk about boys, which was great, because I don't get to just gossip without shame very often. At some point, the painter, who is a little older than me, and collects change so she can go on trips (once she paid for a hotel room entirely in quarters), said, "I made a promise to myself that this year, as an adult, I would no longer cry on the bathroom floor. And so far so good!" I thought to myself, "Pffft. I haven't cried on the bathroom floor in forever. I'm already a really amazing adult."

Normally, I am a pretty good adult, and I should acknowledge that. I always get enough sleep; I eat tons of green foods (of the spinach and kale variety, not just green M&Ms); I spend a lot of time reading; I exercise regularly; I hold down my job without ever coming close to getting fired; I even keep two cats alive (the cats help with that, but I do responsible, adult things like taking them to the vet, and feeding them). Really, all those things together are pretty impressive, and I should give myself a lot more credit.

This hasn't always been the case, either. It wasn't too long ago I was a lousy adult. When I first moved to New Orleans I ordered a calzone almost every single night, and I lay in bed re-watching Gilmore Girls and crying, like that was my job. I often had panic attacks at work, and would end up leaving the school in the middle of the day to go home and sob. (Then more calzone. Then more Gilmore Girls.)

My senior year of college, my boyfriend and I wrote a scandalous satire article for the April Fools edition of the student newspaper about Native Americans that had the campus in an uproar. People were shouting "RACE SYMPOSIUM!" from rooftops. I got hate mail, and open letters to the paper (with signatures) about how I needed to step down as editor. I didn't step down as editor; instead I had lots of loud panic attacks on the quad and at some point intentionally cut my own face repeatedly with a metal skewer. 

Sophomore year, I didn't get into the Writing House (but SAMANTHA DAVIDSON did! SAMANTHA DAVIDSON!!! She had not even gone to ONE Writers' Colony! I, on the other hand, had gone to ALL OF THEM, because OBVIOUSLY I should be LIVING THERE). Upon the realization that I didn't get into the Writing House I ran up and down the hallways of the freshman dorm screaming, like I should be in a zoo, and I threw all my dishes out the window. 

There's this thing in Dungeons and Dragons called "rage mode." It affects only barbarians, and my character is never a barbarian, because I am a huge gender stereotype and always pick the prettiest, most feminine iteration for my character. I have, however, seen other characters in rage mode. They do twice as much damage to everything around them, and afterwards, they're fatigued. I think that in real life, my actual being has a version of rage mode, and it's more severe and embarrassing than most other humans' rage modes. And, maybe because there are no monsters or trolls or evil undead in real life, I basically only take my rage mode out on myself. 

I had hoped I was at a point in my life where I wouldn't lose control like that in public, ever again. I had believed that I was too much of a grown-up to scream at anyone, or make manic and irrational choices, or cause a scene. But I had forgotten the influence of gin when you are in a pretty bad emotional place. It's very, very powerful. Gin just takes whatever you are feeling, and makes you feel it MORE, and LOUDER.

Last night I did a comedy show wearing just my underwear. It was humiliating and horrifying, and I felt weird and vulnerable and frustrated with my body for not looking like it belonged in a magazine. Also (and unrelated to underwear), my relationships are really confusing to me right now. I feel a lot of love for the people in my life, but it seems like my love never takes the shape anyone wants it to take. I fear, for example, spending time with anyone. I want to just make people presents to let them know that I think highly of them. They want me to, like, hang out with them. I'm feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts; stressed out and inadequate. I don't want to be sad; I want to be holding everything together. Plus, I don't feel like I have time to be sad. Plus, I don't think it's attractive to be sad. I don't know what I want in life. Mostly, I just want to not have to want anything. 

There were conversations last night that broke my heart, and my brain went into overdrive, and then GIN HAPPENED, and suddenly I found myself on the floor outside the bar sobbing uncontrollably, fantasizing about all the ways I wanted to hurt myself.

On my (ill-advised) bike ride home, I screamed and wailed. I tried to have conversations with my ex-boyfriends: "WHY DID YOU LEAVE ME? WHY WASN'T I GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? WHAT DID I SCREW UP? WHAT DID I DO WRONG? PLEASE EXPLAIN IT TO ME, BECAUSE I DON'T UNDERSTAND."

Then I was on the bathroom floor. Not an adult. Just a kid, on the bathroom floor, not able to breathe. But I was lucky, because my roommates were there, and they sat there for what felt like hours, picking up my pieces. They'd pick up the pieces and hand them back to me and then I'd throw them on the ground in RAGE MODE, and they just calmly picked them up again. I started to see that this was what love was: when you will do that for someone without qualification, without being annoyed, without reading too much into it.

I ordered a pizza. (Yes! They will make you a pizza at 11:30. I had always wondered.) I ate a pizza. I watched Gilmore Girls. Sometimes people are mean to Rory, or she makes bad decisions, or she gets sad about something, but it always works out in the end. Also, except for in Season 6 (the dumbest season), she always has her mom. Into the night, I texted my sister, who spent hours just writing all the right things. She even tried to call me -- but I didn't answer because I still couldn't really breathe. 

A panic attack takes over your body; you feel possessed. Nothing is computing; all the words in the known universe are spilled out around you like candy, assorted and meaningless. You are not a very nice person. You don't even feel like doing the work that it takes to try to survive.

I guess the thing I take away from that when I have some space from it is that everyone must have their own version of rage mode -- something that the outside world will say can be controlled, but which really can't be. We must all just be wandering around, trying to figure out how to live our lives. It reminds me to be forgiving of people when I think they're being selfish or over-emotional. Maybe no one will ever really be a grown up. Maybe we all always cry on the bathroom floor, no matter how many pets we have, or jobs we hold down. 

Guys, I ate a whole pizza. A WHOLE PIZZA. 

Oh well. Maybe tonight I won't. 

Girl Power: Some Adjustments

Baskerville