Fireworks don't give me panic attacks anymore...
Thoughts on moving forward
I still remember the moment I reached out for help. It was several years ago now, and it was several years after I’d taken some antidepressants (nominally to help me with the loss and pain I was feeling about my physical pain) to which I’d experienced what was called at the time an “idiosyncratic” reaction.
I’d experienced psychosis, and for a long, long time afterwards I thought my brain was broken.
“I was never in control of my body, but at least I could control my brain,” I cried.
They told me once the drugs were out of my system I’d be fine. The terror I’d experienced, and the long-term repercussions of that just weren’t taken into consideration.
I couldn’t be out in public. I dropped out of uni twice. I’d experience panic attacks at random times. So many sounds would set me off - I’d stop listening to music, anything in the minor key just started making me feel…
…what? I don’t know how to explain it. I can’t visualise, so what people consider a “flashback” just doesn’t feel accurate to me.
I called them my “episodes”. I couldn’t see anything, but I felt it. That same feeling of absolute terror seeped through my body, snaking its way down my limbs. I’d start shaking, I couldn’t breath.
I never knew when I was going to be set off, but there were some pretty standard things. I began to pre-empt them, shutting myself off from anything that might cause an episode. My life got smaller and smaller. I walked around in perpetual fear - it changed me as a person.
Since the episodes were primarily triggered by sound, one of the worst things for me were fireworks. When I lived alone, I’d lie in bed, curled up under my duvet, crying. Terrified. Of what? Nothing could actually hurt me. But I couldn’t bear it.
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