I have anxiety.
Sometimes in manifests in the form of a panic attack. When I am awake and have a panic attack, it usually starts with a pain in my chest. From there my body takes over and convinces itself that I am dying. I get lightheaded and my vision becomes blurry. I hear static and feel like I'm going to pass out.
My mind then joins my body and convinces itself that I am dying. Sometimes I recognize that I'm okay. I get up and move. I grab a bag of frozen peas from the freezer and put it on the back of my neck or run cold water on my wrists. The moment slowly passes.
But when I'm asleep, it is terrifying to wake up and be in the middle of a full-blown panic attack. It is harder to talk myself down.
I was once in a relationship and my partner was understanding at first and would comfort me, helping me to move past the nocturnal attacks. Over the course of our relationship I would say I had less than 10 panic attacks but still felt embarrassed and humiliated after one took place. Why couldn't I control it?
My humiliation turned to shame when he ignored me one night and my "panic attack" actually turned out to be a real medical situation that required surgery. I knew that it wasn't a panic attack at the time, and was in actual pain. It was obvious there was a difference, but he still wouldn't help me.
Instead he said, "How was I supposed to know? How many times are you going to cry wolf?"
Those words hurt more than if he had actually punched me.
That moment, those words, they still creep into my thoughts. It was one of the cruelest things anyone has ever said to me. Especially as this man had personal insight. I had trusted him with my so-called "dark side." He knew how much I have overcome to be the healthy, honest, and open human being I am today.
To get healthy I used therapists, and when I feel completely overwhelmed I go in for a "tune-up." I take anxiety medicine to help keep things at bay. I try to eat better, have cut out caffeine, and I exercise.
Despite the hard work I've put in to get a handle on my anxiety, there are still times when someone's words are crippling. But I remember, it's temporary and find renewed strength from within.
While that man's lack of sensitivity and pure ignorance caused me pain. It also reminded me why it's so important to bring awareness to mental illness. There are all sorts of varying levels when it comes to mental illness. Granted mine isn't as severe as others, but it is still something I struggle with.
But I refuse to let anyone else's narrow-minded opinions make me feel bad about something I can't control. Even if that negative opinion comes from a source I once thought I could trust.