It's all me, me, me...

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Vivre Sa Vie
London, United Kingdom
Well hello there. My name is Viv (well, it's not really), and, like a lot of people, I'm ever so slightly neurotic... I have panic attacks and anxiety (ranging from mild to pretty intense), on and off. I also have an amazing and quite high-profile job, so I'm choosing to remain anonymous on here. Not because I'm ashamed of the aforementioned neuroses, but because I don't want to be googled and for my colleagues to read bizarre posts about me breathing into a paper bag and popping lorazepam. I've worked for bookshops, mixed arts festivals and charities, and have met (and still meet!) a lot of famous, fetching and fantabulous people for my job. (See, anxiety doesn't need to stop you being AWESOME and doing what you want to do) Here's hoping you'll find some helpful hints and tips on here which will help you tackle the evil panic heebiejeebs... PS. I'm an Australian, but I live in the UK, and have adopted tea-drinking, pubs, Wodehouse, and a Welsh man.
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Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Sleep, sleep, sleep, PANIC!


It's 3am, and you're lying prostrate in your lovely bed. Deeply asleep - possibly alongside your long-suffering partner, possibly alongside your long-suffering microwavable-lavender-bellied stuffed monkey. There's a bit of drool on your chin. Probably (if you’re a bit prone to the old anxiety demons like me) having disgustingly, ridiculously horrific nightmares about kneecappings and arrows through the eyeballs.  Chickens are asleep on the roost, and small babies are snuffling gently into their softly-scented cream muslin things. A deep peace has settled gently over the land. And then...

BANG. You're awake, and suddenly transplanted smack in the middle of a panic attack. Your heart's racing, you're sweating like an overworked racehorse, you're going to lose control of your anus annnnny minute now, and it seems that death is basically upon you. You've got the whole works - pins and needles, disorientation, cold hands and feet, elephant on chest, and most of all, a HUGE TERROR LIKE THE SHADOW OF A GIANT SOUL-EATING MONSTER HAS APPEARED AND IT IS GOING TO KILL YOU SLOWLY, LIKE, RIGHT NOW, AND YOU WILL BE, LIKE, COMPLETELY DEADYBONES.

WTF?! How the hell does that happen you bastarding panic bastards? And what have you got to say about that CBT gurus, eh? No negative, catastrophic thinking going on there, just blissful unconsciouness and the occasional kneecapping.

Anyway, who cares about the wheres and whyfores.

You are having the nighttime panic terrors and you need JEEVES. I don't care if you're not English - this is the patented Aunty Viv's Wodehouse-Nighttime-Panic-Terror-Squeaky-Bum-Time-Cure and you're damn well going to take it and feel better. 

Read a few pages, you rotters...

...And before you know it, you will be back in the realm of the peaceful people, where shadows are just shadows, and the worst thing that can happen is that one's valet will go on holiday and leave one unable to pick out the right suit for Ascot.

NB: This cure also works with any sort of children's book. Don't think you're too cool for this - pick up some nice second-hand books you loved as a kid, and keep them by the bed (along with the sedatives, podcast headphones and placebo flower water)


sara crowley said...

I have never suffered anything as terrifying as what you describe here. It sounds so ghastly. When you wake up are you in the midst of the panic/anxiety already as if you were dreaming it or does it arrive when awake? What happens to me if I ever find myself awake around 3 ish is that I feel so acutely aware of my own mortality that it's horrific. Les Murray describes similar in his depression memoir "Killing the black dog" He suffered regularly from “the 4 a.m. Show” in which you find “your troubles and terrors ripping into you with a gusto allowed them by fatigue and the disappearance of proportion.” Eep. My self-loathing is at it's peak at that time too.
I find some comfort in knowing it's not uncommon. Philip Larkin wrote in Aubade:
"I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify."
Which is somehow both terror and comfort, I think.

Vivre Sa Vie said...

Hi Sara. I love the idea of the "4 a.m. show"! And the Larkin poem is beautiful. You're right, it is incredibly comforting knowing it's a universal thing, and that all across the city/country/world terrified people are lying awake contemplating their own mortality!

And yep, the night panic attacks are pretty terrifying. It is just like waking up suddenly into the midst of a full-blown panic attack - as if it sort of started without you somehow.

Thankfully I don't have the night ones too often, but when I do, it is truly awful - because it arrives at that time when your defences are down, and you are least able to cope. I still don't really understand the mechanics of it either. Very odd!

sara crowley said...

I'm glad it's not a regular occurrence, it sounds so awful. Poor, poor you.

The Larkin poem in its entirety is here:

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