The other day at work I was in a meeting and was having a bit of trouble catching my breath. You know, just your average ‘we’re talking about site stats, no time for breathing’ sort of thing. My coworker asked me if I was okay and I said ‘gaspyesIthinksogasp’ (dramatization) and then he casually asked me if I was having a panic attack while flipping through his meeting notes.
Not like, OMG Are You Having A Panic Attack?
Just an offhanded nice weather we’re having, can I get you a paper bag to breathe into?
It was surreal. Because, partly, I was like YES I THINK I AM. But I said, no it’s probably just asthma. Not really sure I have asthma but it sounds convincing and work appropriate. I’ll take an inhaler over a paper bag in a meeting any day.
About 3 weeks ago I was 100% convinced that I had congestive heart failure. Because, hello, I can’t breathe well sometimes for days at a time. My doctor very kindly pretended to consider that this was a possibility and not merely the mental wanderings of a deranged hypochondriac,and gave me a very sweet speech about how that is 100% impossible but hey, great thought coughwhere’dyoupickthatupWebMD?cough.
Not a great thought though, actually, because it turns out that thinking you have congestive heart failure? Makes it kind of hard to breathe.
Because maybe it gets you a little anxious.
Because maybe you sometimes get a little panicky about things.
Because maybe you’re just like everyone else with the anxiety problem they can’t wait to talk about.
Except it’s not like it sounds. It’s not like I’m sitting here stressing about things and I’m so sensitive and then, boom, anxiety. Small things that don’t even matter to me very much will cause me to break into a sweat all over my body and I’ll flash so hot I can’t stand to wear clothes. But I do, because what gives me more anxiety than seeing my own pale legs?
It’s almost like an allergy. My body has been responding to regular life as if it’s earth-shattering catastrophe, kind of the same way my respiratory system responds to a cat hair as if it is an injection of Plague.
I am talking about it here just because it’s been a difficult thing for me lately, made more difficult by the fact that I hate tossing around the word anxiety the way people do, like it’s a beach ball. It’s not a beach ball, it’s an anvil. And when it hits your chest you feel like you might never be able to breathe again.