I hadn’t been prepared for what was about to come. The rush and pain that was about to consume me was something I was clueless to and was not expecting. I hope that if this ever occurs again, it is not in the big city celebrating my brothers’ birthdays like it was and that I am far more capable of managing myself on my own as well as remind myself of coping strategies.
I had been late arriving to a family dinner and was terrified of having disappointed the people whom meant so much to me, though I knew that as a vegan, there wouldn’t be much to eat at a Japanese Ramen location. I went in with an open mind, trying not to be selfish or “ruin” an event, as I had so often heard from family members. Seats were cleared for my boyfriend and I to join, and we were 6; my 2 brothers, my mom, my brother’s partner and mine. The restaurant was crowded; groups of people flocking in and out for their consumption of seafood; far more populated than I had expected. I stared at the menu and considered plausible options. I guess it was truly overwhelming to have to look at all the meat options with very few being vegan, being constantly reminded of the suffering that society chooses to participate in. I asked many questions about the 3 things I could eat and was decided on edamame and a veggie fried rice.
My order of rice came back coated in egg, though I had asked strictly no animal product within my dish. I was highly uncomfortable, silently sitting there as everybody else started eating, finishing off my boyfriend’s leftover edamame shells. I refused to request for my food to be remade on my own and so, my mother did it. I was stuck starring at my family slurping up the remains of creatures who wanted to live. I had chest pains, which have been so recurrent, I felt I shouldn’t complain (too much).
My food was corrected and placed in front of me, leaving me glaring down the oil coating it. I don’t enjoy the consumption of oil as it doesn’t make me feel my best and woah, was I about to learn that to an extreme. I find eating in public or with people extremely challenging, what with my disordered eating views and behaviours. It was tasty but soon after I began to eat, I felt a striking pain in my stomach. I felt my insides grabbing through my skin and my skirt, and almost a sense of someone locked away, trying to escape, grasping for the nearest rescue. I excused myself and was hunched outside, having a need to call for my boyfriend’s assistance.
We sat together on a rock and talked, the pain pratically unbearable to me. Once I returned, I was curled in my boyfriend’s arms, using comfort and contact to distract myself of the combination of both pains which were colliding and accumulating, entwining with one another. As one got worse, so did the other.
The meal was finally completed and I was incredibly relieved to finally be able to leave, to hopefully curl up in my bed, and was reminded that everyone wanted bubble tea. At the tea place, I sat down with a menu, and it being such a big city on a Saturday night, it was cluttered with people. I continued to complain about my pain and clutched at my chest. Suddenly, I was hit with it; anxiety.
I knew it had been but I thought the discomfort I was feeling was the extent of it. I was soon to realize my reality. I ran outside for air and began to bawl. I could not breathe, putting all of my effort into inhaling, as if I were greedy. My mother was outside and attempted to help me as well as my boyfriend who decided he should be present after I returned inside and nearly collapsed. They kept telling me to take deep breaths, but being my first serious attack, I was incapable. The more I calmed my breathing, the more my stomach pain worsened. I was stuck between two worlds and I didn’t know which was worse.
In that 30 minutes or so, nothing occupied my mind but being by my boyfriend, seeing as I feel my safest with him. I sensed my chest shutting itself in and didn’t understand how bad it could be and why I was experiencing it. The whole world ceased yet, was accelerated. My vision stained with the tears that flooded my eyelids and the presence of pedestrians terrifying me, though also not bothering me at all. I could not make sense of what brought this on and how I could escape it. There was action everywhere; lights, noise, movement. I am still not fully knowledgeable of what could’ve helped me through that, in its most intense severity.
I begged my boyfriend constantly to not leave me and felt terror in assuming he would. I just didn’t want to be alone emotionally anymore.
Finally having arrived at my boyfriend’s car, makeup all over my face and my body hunched over, I was beginning to sense the relaxation of my chest. It was amazing the way he knew that my music would relax me; no words were spoken yet I reached for my music on my phone, and he for my CD. I swayed my body back and forth, my breathing becoming slightly regulated, singing along in my gasping breaths. He finally got his tea and he encouraged me to drink some.
I gained control despite the pain in my stomach still being present. I tired myself out to the point where I fell asleep in his car on our way home and felt better upon waking up. I struggled to get my mood up though, it was okay because I made it through my first full blown anxiety attack. I may not have taken all the advice that I had learned previously, but I made it through and can finally truly accept that I have an anxiety problem the doctors need to reassess, and that I could benefit from returning to therapy (working on it).