So I’ve been going a bit crazy lately. I’m working 6 days a week, but barely getting 30 hours. My job search is driving me crazy, trying to customize my resume and write cover letters and network. Roommates are driving me crazy yet again. It seems like there is always someone having a huge fight with their significant other, or leaving the back door open (and letting my poor kitty outside), and cooking late at night, and taking my stuff and breaking my stuff and ruining my stuff………….

Needless to say, this has all lead to my usual “where the hell did I go wrong in life” contemplation. I know, I know: this isn’t exactly a healthy way to deal with all of this. I mean, I do spend a lot of time planning our escape from this house and making plans for the future. But thinking back on what I could’ve done differently seems to calm me down, for some reason. I mean, I can’t do anything about any of that now, BUT I can pass on my newly contemplated¬†epiphanies on to others so THEY can learn from my mistakes. I mean, if you can’t be a good example, you can at least be a horrible warning.

So I’ll pass on a bit of my knowledge here, let you know how you can NOT wind up in the spot I’m in right now. Unless, of course, you want to be 34, living in a student rental house with 5 other random people with almost zero privacy, no car, and a job that has nothing to do with the degree you’re in debt up to your eyeballs for.

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How It Feels

Imagine you’re walking home alone, late at night. None of your neighbours’ lights are on, no one seems to be around at all, and it’s just completely dark out. Suddenly, three very large men appear behind you with weapons; a pipe, a knife, maybe a chain. You walk faster, trying to put some distance between you and them; they speed up. You start to slowly job, while they loudly laugh and quicken their pace to match yours. Soon, you’re in an all-out sprint through your neighbourhood, wondering why no one is coming outside to help you. You run, you scream, you call for help, all the while these three are slowly closing the distance between you. Your heart feels like it’s about to burst through your chest, while your lungs can’t seem to take in air fast enough. Your head is spinning, your legs feel like they’re about to give out at any moment, but you keep trying to push yourself forward just a little bit longer. The men chasing you are getting closer and closer, until you can almost feel their breath on the back of your neck. You can feel them reaching for you, touching your hair, laughing at you.

Picture everything your body feels in that exact moment: the fear, the exhaustion, the panic, the almost overwhelming urge to curl up in a ball and cry and vomit and wait for the world to go away while you just pray that nothing bad will happen to you.

Now imagine all of these feelings, this intensity, come to you suddenly while you’re lying in bed on a Monday morning. THAT was my anxiety attack Monday morning.

I misheard something Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend mumbled to himself while he was getting ready for work. He’s a total grumpy asshat first thing in the morning, and tends to say random things that are pissing him off. Neither one of us knows exactly what he was rambling on to himself about, but I thought I heard a few words in there about me. I sat and thought about that for a little while after he left for work, and then the panic set in.

The worst part of it all is that I KNOW that it makes no sense. I know that there is no reason why my heart should be racing, or why I should be sweating like crazy when I’m just sitting still. I can tell myself that the thoughts racing through my head are just stupid and make no sense. I can tell myself all this, I can know that it makes no sense, but that doesn’t stop it.

The thoughts that go through my head are crazy too. I thought AAB mumbled something about our sex life. The next thing I know, I’m sitting here imagining that we bought a little house, and I was pregnant, and he was so pissed that I was going to have a baby even though we both want one. I’m sitting there imagining that he would leave me, that he would hate me, that he would want nothing to do with me. And that just made the panic worse. No matter how much I told myself that these thoughts made no sense, they just got worse and more intense.

I like to think I was lucky, though. I had my panic attacks happen while I was at home this time. Aside from a roommate chilling in his own room, and my kitten faithfully watching over me, I got to sit here all alone and deal with this the way I know I needed to.

You see, people want to help. And they really to mean well, honestly. They just don’t help though. One friend would just constantly tell me to calm down, as if her ordering me to do so would stop this whole mess. AAB’s first instinct is to kiss and cuddle me. As amazing and awesome as he is, him doing that is probably the worst thing he could do. I know myself that part of my panic leaves me feeling claustrophobic, and his snuggling up to me makes me feel even more closed in. My head on his shoulder, or laying with my head on his chest, where I am the one deciding how much space we take from each other, is fine: anything else just makes my chest tighten. ¬†He is really trying to help when he does that, though, just like all the other people who have tried to help me over the years.

And telling people not to help me just makes me feel worse. Suddenly, on top of all the other thoughts flooding my mind, “They’re just trying to help and show they care, why do you have to be such a bitch, you’re pushing them away from you, they’re going to stop coming around if you treat them like this” rushes in there to join them.

Now I know for many of you out there, none of this makes any sense. If you get thoughts like these in your mind, you can make them stop. If your chest starts tightening up and your heart races, you go to a doctor. For someone suffering from anxiety, though, these things don’t work. I’ve had doctors suggest all kinds of things to “help” me: yoga, tea, meditation, reading, long walks, deep breathing……… and yes, these help me to feel a little more balanced sometimes. None of these things stop panic attacks, though, and none of them help once one has started.

For years, I felt completely alone in all of this. I had people tell me I was overreacting, that I was doing it for attention, that if I didn’t stop I’d be thrown in the “loony bin” and it would be on my “permanent record” that I was crazy (where the hell is this permanent record anyways?). I was made to feel like I was the only one in the world having this problem, and that I was selfish for not stopping it myself. It took many, many years for me to find others who share my problem, who are open about their anxiety. I now know that this is a condition that there is no complete cure for, but there is plenty of support around me when I need it.

So Sunshine, if you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, please know that you are not alone. And if you know others who suffer from this, here is a little insight into what may be going on in their minds and bodies. Everyone’s panic is different, there is no one right way to have a panic attack. Please take care of those around you, in a manner they need and are comfortable with.

Updates: Even MORE Roommates From Hell!

Good morning Sunshine!

It’s 9:30am here. I’m working tonight from 4:15-9:15pm (weird shift, I know. But I take what I can get), and have been up since around 4am. Hooray for coffee! I didn’t get to bed until around 11pm last night, and the new roommates were in the kitchen LOUDLY cooking until around midnight, making it hard to sleep.

That’s right new roommates!

So for those of you new to my scene, here’s a quick recap of my living situation:

My ex-boyfriend and I lived in this house together for years (even after we broke up) with a few friends and a few random people. His parents own the house. He moved out, and Amazingly Awesome Boyfriend moved in over the summer. It’s a 5 bedroom house, with the two of us using up two of those bedrooms (one for our bedroom, and the other for our office/hidey-hole snuggle cave). The landlord/my ex-boyfriend’s father puts ads on Kijiji to rent out the other rooms. For months we only had Downstairs Gal living here (a MA. Social Work student with a husband and kid living a few hours north of here), and she leaves to move back home the middle of next month. Oh, and her husband is staying with us for most of this month, too.

We’ve been showing the house to people for months, and randomly two guys moved in over the weekend. Downstairs Man is only here for two months, and is on contract for his job for that time. Upstairs Man is a student (I think), or a recent grad (possibly), who is studying for a test that he’s taking soon (maybe?) or in like 18 months (no clue). Oh, and his girlfriend is a student, lives nearby, and is over often.

Ok, so that’s a big and sudden adjustment to make (did I mention we didn’t actually KNOW that these guys were moving in? Landlord forgot to pass that message on to us). But I’m used to this…..kinda. I mean, I’ve been living with random people for close to a decade now. I mainly hole-up in my room, hermit at the computer while I job hunt, write, and watch Netflix, and then I go to work. I talk to the roommates when we’re in the same room, like when we are both making dinner or grabbing snacks. But it’s not like I’m poking my nose into their business all the time.

Well, this is the beginning of Day 4 of our new living arrangement here, and people are already close to murder. DG likes to park her car in the middle of our driveway, leaving no room for anyone else. If someone else is parked in the big 4 car driveway, no matter how much room they leave her, she goes and spends 10 minutes trying to parallel park on the street, and then comes up to the house to demand they move their car so she can park. This wasn’t a big problem until UM moved in, and his girlfriend started parking here while she visits.

Now, this is all secondhand information since I was at work when this happened, but AABoyfriend and Awesome Neighourhood Mama both told me pretty much the same version of events:

DG had her car parked in the driveway, and was sitting in it, like she was looking for something she had left in there. UM’s girlfriend showed up and parked behind her. While she was in her parked car, she took off her seatbelt and started gathering up her books and purse and such to come in the house. Suddenly, DG turned on the car, threw it into reverse, and slammed on the gas before quickly hitting the break. She stopped less than an inch from UMG’s front bumper. UMG didn’t even get out of the car. She backed out, went around the corner, and parked in the street. She was so shaken by this woman almost slamming into the front of her car, that she didn’t want to come in the house. In fact, she didn’t come in the house until DG had left. After that, AABoyfriend and his Totally Awesome Co-Worker helped UMG park her car on the far side of the driveway, where DG SHOULD have been parking all this time.

As our Awesome Neighbourhood Mama said: “Shit, home girl needs to learn pull up. If she don’t move her car, I’ll come out and move HER!”

This is not the first, nor will it be the last, incident here involving driving. DG has pissed off the neighbours all around us by parallel parking in front of their driveways. UMG is over daily, too, giving those two plenty of time to clash.

And not all of our problems are limited to the driveway. We are each given one cupboard to use for our food. AAB and I have cupboard connected to each other, since we share all our food. DG is supposed to be sharing a double cupboard with one of the new guys, but seems to be refusing. She insists that she NEEDS the extra space since her husband is living her (rent free) and she needs to cook for him. She refuses to let a paying tenant use the space he’s paying for, so that she can have extra space. So I’ve been cleaning out cupboards, re-arranging spaces, trying to find space for everyone.

And everyone cooks ALL THE DAMN TIME! It doesn’t matter if it’s 4am or 4pm, there is someone in the damn kitchen cooking something. The whole house reeks of curry, cloves, burnt toast, and fish. I have no clue what all these people are cooking, or why anyone would need curried clove fish on burnt toast at 4am, but it’s driving me nuts. The smell is so strong that I got a headache the second I opened the bedroom door this morning. And no one cooks quietly, either. They have to blast their music, clang all the pots and pans, turn on the fan and all the lights, and talk on the phone ALL at the same time. I had no idea one could very loudly make a ham sandwich, but I’ve learned that is entirely possible.

I’m not looking forward to the Thermostat Wars that have already begun heating up (and yes, pun TOTALLY intended). DM thinks the house is too warm…… in the basement, which is usually cold. UM thinks the house is freezing, in the room with the most natural light and heat. One wants the thermostat set at 60, the other at 75. I came to a compromise at 69……… and have to constantly keep checking to make sure no one has touched it. I feel like the dad from all the termostat dad memes. I awoke from a dead sleep the night before last just because the room felt a little too warm and I needed to make sure no one had touched the thermostat (they did, it was at like 75).

The worst part of all of this is that this is reeking havoc on my anxiety. It feels like there are walls around my heart and they’re closing in, while my head just keeps spinning. Between that feeling and all the noise and temperature stuff, I’m barely sleeping. I can feel panic setting in, but the attacks just don’t come. I stocked up on my easy comfort foods (sandwich fixins, soup, bagged salad), and made a cleaning list to work on (to occupy my mind and body a bit), but even thinking of that stuff right now makes me want to vomit. AAB and I are already putting plans in place to start saving up to get out of here, but between both of our consumer debt and my student loans it’s hard in an area where credit checks for shitty apartments are the norm. Thinking about that makes the anxiety worse, but not thinking about it just gives me no way out of here………. yeah, I can see a breakdown coming on before the end of the year.

So Sunshine, I’m going more than a little nuts here. Hopefully this whole hermit-dom thing I’ve been doing will mean more time on here. I keep writing down post ideas, but never get around to them. And with this being NaNoWriMo, I’m usually more motivated to write anyway.