Yesterday was my birthday. I had spent the weekend with my friend who lives about two hours away from me. My plans for my birthday were: go to my therapy appointment, go home and watch Harry Potter, live tweet Harry Potter, go out to eat with my mom. It was gonna be pretty kick ass. Then I got a flat tire.
I have a spare in my car. I also have a portable tire pump. Unfortunately I can’t lift a spare or a tire by myself because of a back injury, and my portable tire pump is buried under about a million books that I haven’t taken out of my car since I moved. I was also 20 minutes from home and none of my friends live anywhere near me. I felt alone.
The good news though? I was able to find someone to help me and get to a local tire place and get a new tire without collapsing into a useless puddle of tears and anxiety.
I wasn’t excited the situation was happening. I wasn’t exactly thinking with a clear head. But I didn’t freeze. I didn’t feel completely overwhelmed by this sudden problem.
When I first started therapy I was asked what my goals were. Honestly I was too depressed to even answer that question. At the time the idea of “goals” of any kind was terrifying. Daily life was terrifying. Unexpected problems and crises were terrifying.
I suspect my ability to cope was a combination of having just spent a great weekend with a friend, having a helpful therapy session that day, and also being all jacked up on Red Bull.
Even so, isn’t that kind of the point of coping with daily life? In my deepest depressive episodes spending time with friends doesn’t help, therapy is just me crying for an hour, and Red Bull doesn’t really have any effect on me.
I’m not saying that I perfectly handled the situation and didn’t have any problems. Up until I was by myself at Walmart I had basically turned off my emotions. I was apathetic. I tried to thank my friends who helped me, but I know it came off as wooden and inauthentic. I am truly thankful to them, but in the moment I had to turn off all emotions or my brain would be shut down by the enormity of my predicament.
Once I was by myself in Walmart the cracks began to show. I paced up and down the tire aisle for ten minutes trying to keep myself calm before I realized there was a bench where I could sit. I could feel the panic attack coming on but I also didn’t want to have a panic attack in a Walmart while alone and unable to leave. This scenario is my worst nightmare.
I was only able to keep my panic under control by discussing it with a trusted friend. They reminded me that I still get to eat dinner with my mom, and I can always watch Harry Potter after I get home from dinner.
So that’s exactly what I did. I drove home. Went to dinner with my mom (I even gave a girl my number). And I watched Harry Potter when I got home.
Which is when I fell apart and cried at every scene until I fell asleep. But I think that’s ok. I had a hard day.
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