I had another panic attack. This is the second time within the week. It comes like an asshole with an intent to fuck you up—let’s not mince words about it—and the first one crept up on me at two in the morning, just as I was about to get in bed. The second one, awhile ago, I was washing the dishes, making a list in my head of things that I have to get done this afternoon.
Then there it was. Suddenly I stiffen, then I’m bent over, my hand on my chest, as if I have the power to control my heartbeat. It felt like a thundering, but also like I’m drowning—I can’t breathe, tears are in my eyes, and I gasp and gasp for air. I feel helpless—in danger—and if I’m not strong enough to keep it together, my mind can separate from the present and wander into some past trauma. The other night I was curled into a ball in my bed, my whole body shaking, sweating.
Demons at my door
I couldn’t speak, I almost couldn’t walk. I couldn’t move from the sink to the chair by the kitchen table so I ended up on the floor. I wanted to drink water but couldn’t, for fear of dropping the glass and hurting myself in the process. I wouldn’t be able to work it down my throat anyway.
I was shivering, felt like the room was closing around me. I sent a message to my favourite people in the world: I think I am having another panic attack…but don’t worry it’s not as bad as the one last time.
I also texted my doctor and, bless her, she replied to me after a few minutes. But she didn’t want me to take Xanax, which I have in my bag as some sort of talisman almost. I am under strict instructions to only take the pills as needed, and it seems this situation doesn’t warrant for it. I mean—fuck.
So I am left with no choice: I breathed as slowly as I can, counting downwards from 10 to 1. I focused on a voice in my head: it’s okay, it’s going to be okay.
My doctor wanted me to watch guided meditation videos on YouTube, which is not the worst idea I’ve heard. She recommended that I put the link where it is most easily accessible, like a shortcut on the topmost area of my phone or desktop, so it becomes my go-to when things get bad.
My doctor also wants me to write coping sentences on a piece of paper that I can refer to, to read repeatedly and reflect on. Then I am supposed to reflect on the coping sentences as I do slow, deep, relaxing breaths—all the while listening to whatever I found on YouTube.
In theory, I like this—but because I’m an aural person and submissive, the deepest part of myself only truly responds to one person. Want to take a guess who?
It’s a difficult truth to live with. When my therapist told me last year, “T., you have PTSD. Why would that surprise you?”—I didn’t know what to say, except for maybe the dumbest thing. I said, “But…aren’t the people who get this those who’ve been to war?” and he replied with, “Haven’t you? What did you think your childhood—and almost your whole life—was?”
And then I looked at myself. It was November. At that point, I have been living out of my luggage for three months, moving from place to place. In September, I left my family of origin, healing from a wound on my forehead only weeks before that, telling myself, I will not allow her to hurt me again.
I walked out of my childhood home and straight into the arms of a Daddy who will later tell me I use my mental illness as a crutch, and who abandoned me for weeks with no contact.
Once, during play, J., another Dom who thought he could ‘heal’ me, refused me my orgasm until I told him I loved him. He fucked me while repeatedly telling me he loved me, but didn’t want me to cum: “Say it,” he would whisper, over and over. “Say it.” I eventually did, but he told me it wasn’t good enough, and wanted me to spank myself. And I did. “Again,” he said, “again.” I followed him, thought I was having fun—and then I started crying. Sobbed, even.
I wish I’m not like this, but I am. Who would want something this broken?
What makes me feel safe
In an ideal world, I would want to listen to the voice of my Dom—a voice that I can focus on, telling me phrases like these:
- “Focus on my voice”
- “Come back to me”
- “I am here”
- “You are safe”
- “No one is going to hurt you, I’m not going to let them”
- “Breathe with me” (+ countdown of 10 to 1)
- “Think of me”
- “Think of us”
- “Who loves you?”
- “Who owns you?”
- “Who do you belong to?”
- “Breathe, baby”
- “Inhale, exhale, keep going, we’re almost there, baby”
- “That’s my girl”
- “Good girl”
- “Come here”
- “I’m holding you”
- Kissing sounds
I would also want to be wrapped in a blanket, and held, and petted, and kissed.
But on a day like today, I am alone, barefoot, my hair a mess. Y. tells me to keep breathing. I do. My doctor tells me to write about all this. I do.
And then after: probably brownies. Some music. Another hot shower if I have the energy (I feel exhausted to my bones). Will maybe put on some lipstick. Might stay away from coffee. Might take another nap.
Ah, little T., you beautiful mess. What are we going to do with you.