That’s me in the spotlight, losing my direction

Goddammit. Just, fuck. Goddammit.

I lost where I was again. My brain fritzed out and I had no idea where I was. I couldn’t figure it out. I froze.

My chest constricted and tears welled up and I looked around blankly, trying to figure out where the fuck I was and how to get where I wanted to go.

Logically, I knew I was only a couple of blocks away from my office, in a neighborhood I know well. I understood the street signs, the landmarks, and knew they were supposed to be familiar to me.

I can’t describe the feeling of my brain freezing up the way it did. I didn’t know where I was. That’s the best I can think of right now.

I looked around at places I’ve known for over a decade. I stared blankly at the ice cream shop, the dry cleaners, the restaurants, the park across the way.

They were familiar sights but I hadn’t a clue where I was. Even though I had a map on my phone, telling me where I was and where the restaurant I wanted to go to was. It even showed me which direction I was facing and whether I was walking towards the restaurant or away from it. And yet, I couldn’t figure it out.

I stood there on the street corner, frozen, trying to remember to breathe and trying not to break into sobs, trying to think rationally, for a good 5-10 minutes.

Contributing to my panic was the thought that the restaurant I was standing in front of was actually the one I meant to go to, despite nothing logically pointing to this possibility. It didn’t matter. Somewhere in my head was the notion that my friends might be inside talking, and at some point someone would look up and notice me standing frozen on a street corner, looking around me with confusion and despair, freaking out and trying to figure out where I was and what the fuck was going on.

This thought is what helped me move forward. I realized I wasn’t in any danger. There was absolutely nothing at stake. I knew I was near the restaurant where we were meeting. I knew I was having some sort of panic/anxiety attack and this attack was the only thing keeping me from being able to find the place.

Most importantly, I knew I could ask for help. I knew I was in an emotionally safe space. I could send a text into the group chat and say hey, I’m nearby, but I’m having a panic attack and I don’t understand where I am and I need someone to come find me. I’m at the corner of these two streets and I’m frozen and I need help.

They would have understood. One of them would have jumped up from the table to come get me. None of them would have been at all rattled. They would have hugged me and sympathized and let me cry a little and we would have talked about it as much as was necessary and then moved on to other topics.

This is what calmed me down. This knowledge, this confidence in my people, soothed me when I was in the middle of a pretty massive attack of some sort.

Suddenly, I was able to choose a direction in which to walk. I wasn’t sure it was right, but I knew if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be a big deal. I responded to the, “Hey, where are you?” text I had been ignoring and replied, “Was having a minor panic attack. I think I’m heading the right direction now.”

As I hit send on the message, I realized I was in front of the restaurant. I had only been a block away.

I walked through the doors and told the hosts I was meeting some people. I glanced around the space and saw one of my friends waving to me to get my attention.

I saw the group and I rushed into their arms. I told them what had happened. I told them how scary it had been. They hugged me and sympathized and we talked about it as much as was necessary and then moved on to other topics.

Losing my location isn’t something that has happened to me since I started taking ADHD and anti-depression medication over a year ago. The few times before then when it did happen were what prompted me to start taking medications in the first place.

Well, that and the fact that I kept hallucinating nooses hanging off of everything around me. Either thing, separately, would have been enough to tell me my brain wasn’t quite right and I should probably do something about it, but together it made me think it was probably rather urgent that I get some help.

I don’t know what triggered having a panic attack right now. Things have been going great. I’ve been quite excited by how delightfully calm life has been.

This brain freeze, this thing where my brain stops working and I have no idea what is going on, happening yet again, is absolutely terrifying to me.

I am terrified.

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