Panic Days

Part of getting better, I suppose, is learning to manage our disadvantages better, our disability, our adversity, our weakness, sickness, humanity. For the most part of my recovery, I’ve thought that I will be better when I stop waking up from nightmares, having flashbacks or panic attacks.

Truth is, “better” may be learning to manage the bad moments better, not their absence.

Once a counselor at an online hotline told me that there will always be triggers you can’t predict. The true recovery lies in recognizing that fact and learning to manage them better.

Oh boy, was she right.

*

It all started again last week.

Dancing ballet and trying to get out in the world and socialize again, it has been bringing up issues more often than I would like to admit. 2 years back I would let that defeat me, I would think, clearly I’m not strong enough to handle this. But I like ballet too much, and I’m not giving it up, even after such moments. But there has been more than one class which I miss because I panic, which I only watch because I’m so freaking out that I can’t feel my legs, in which I ran in the bathroom to put water on my face in an attempt to remember where I am and that there is nothing threatening about it. But I’m scared, my god, I haven’t been so scared in a while, dancing is exposing me, and I’ve done such a good act out of hiding.

And so it starts again on Sunday.

My bus on the way to dance stops midway. There is some political rally happening, and so they are clearing out the streets. I’m late, so I’m just walking in hurry. Until I finally get to the crowd, and I have to pass through it to get to my studio. There is loud music and people shouting things I can’t understand and colorful flags. People are surrounding me on all sides, pushing me in different directions as they try to pass faster or join in. People are laughing, talking, shouting. The sounds surrounds me and all my senses alter. I catch myself scanning, the sounds, the smells, people’s faces, trying to find way in between them, and trying to beware of any danger. People are pushing and the music is loud and there is not enough air…

I’m okay, nothing is threatening, it’s just a rally, I just need to pass through. Nothing to worry about.

I successfully make my way through. I’m good, I think. Except that my legs feel like jelly. I stroll through the street with twice less speed, barely finding it in me to keep walking. My heart is racing.

I find a bench, and sit down. Everything dulls down- the sounds, colors, people around me, now that I’m on the bench and with lots of space around me, all else just blurs. I’m not sure how long I’m sitting down. I have to get to dance, but that fact also seems far. I know I have to, but I can’t make myself get up.

*

Somehow, I get up. I buy something sweet to stabilize my sugar levels and get in the studio. I let my instructor know I may only be watching, and I go upstairs to change. I spend most of the class sitting on the couch across from the dance class, looking at them. I can’t feel my legs and my heart keeps racing. I only manage to calm a little by the end of class.

Right then and there, I have a choice.

I’ve spend most of class sitting down, so it won’t be a big deal if I just go home. But I don’t I’m here and finally feeling okay, so I just stay. While the advanced class is doing their class, I stay on the side and practice at the barre. I’ve managed the storm, and I don’t want to run anymore. I stretch, practice, turn, fall down and try again. I really look at myself in the mirror and try to correct myself. I’m scared but I won’t run away again. I practice for another hour, and go home, partly disappointed and partly proud of myself.

 

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