Tomorrow marks the 1 year anniversary of two things.
- The first “date” of my partner and I
- My first panic attack since 2008
Yes, our first arrangement outside of work excited me so much I had 2 panic attacks! Silently, of course.
Settle in and let me take you back…
(Careful, this may be a long post but totally worth it… I hope…)
I was disappointed soul. I wanted to get out and meet new people, do new things, but for some reason I was too afraid to. Most of the time it just seemed like I was at work. I liked it there, however I didn’t feel very challenged.
A new team arrived at work – one that spent a lot of time around my role. It was nice to get to know them. I liked one fellow in particular. He was entertaining, friendly and would pick on me (yes, I am one of those weird individuals that likes such displays of affection.) It was a lot nicer to go into work, and my mood generally improved. I decided not to spend so much time being sad, and started to appreciate the little things around me – like sitting in the warming sun at lunch time and watching the small birds.
Everything was going well, however the fellow I had grown to enjoy mentioned he was leaving. I didn’t think much of it at the time, and continued to make the most out of life. Then, one day, I started my shift to find Mr makes-me-laugh gone.
I was sad.
I didn’t realise just how much I liked having him around. Perhaps it was the attention? I don’t know, but I missed walking up the stairs to see his goofy face smiling. I began to over-think it. I went through a lot of “shouldas” in my mind. It would have been nice to hang out with him, he reminded me a lot of an old best friend.
So, I decided to put it behind me. Yet another situation in my life to put in my “what if” pile. I went back to enjoying my days. There was nothing else to do but just expect that life has more in store for me and look forward to it.
On the last Wednesday of March I woke at the usual time for work.
“I don’t want to get out of bed,” I groaned. I thought about having to ride all the way to work in the cold and pondered the idea of calling in sick. I eventually got out of bed, thinking that it was the last day I had to work before my 4 days off but didn’t put much effort into getting ready.
When at work I prepped myself for another day by joking around with one of my fellow staffmates. All of a sudden, who should come bounding up the stairs but my “what if” friend! By this stage I had over-thought it all so much that it had crossed my mind that I might “like” him, so my heart started pounding.
We spent most of the day chatting and it was pretty obvious that we both wanted to move this friendship away from work into the big wide world. He gave it away by talking about what was on at the movies. Apparently, I wasn’t sending signals to say I was interested – even though I made a huge effort to do work near his office instead of returning to floor duties.
He was being painfully slow at asking for my digits, so I just marched up to him and said: “Do you want my number?” I’m sure it was a lot smoother than that sentence makes it out to be, but he said yes and then called my phone so I would have his. He then proceeded to annoy me via text AND verbal conversation.
We agreed, later that night while SMSing, that a movie sounded like a good idea and that we would go after he finished work the next night. He didn’t bother to hide his enthusiasm. You always hear about the 3 day rule and not messaging/calling too soon, but I don’t like that. You’re either interested or you’re not – and I’m glad he was so interested.
Thursday, The Big Night
He arrived pretty much on time and I hugged him to say hello. I’m a hugger, it’s what I do. We then got in the car and drove into the city. Yes, I do actually live in the city, but he likes to drive everywhere. As we pulled away from my apartments I stifled the urge to asked to be taken back.
Yes, I was panicking. I was so excited that my body thought I was in danger. Excitement and Fear are pretty much identical – sweaty hands, racing heart, dry mouth, dizziness – the only difference is usually what your personal experience has been. Because I’ve had a history of Panic Attacks, that’s just the way it went.
When in the city, we decided to get some food. I was too nervous to eat, so I claimed I had my dinner already and got treated to a bottle of water instead. We sat for about an hour, chatting, me feeling increasingly uncomfortable – the only thought that kept me there was the fact that if I wanted to pick up and run home, I could.
I decided not to go to the movie. I was tired from the panic, and it still hadn’t left me alone. So I asked if we could skip the movie, saying I wasn’t feeling all that great – I think I told him I had a problem that I didn’t want to discuss, but I just didn’t want to go to the movies anymore. He told me later he thought he had struck out.
We left the fast food shop and headed back to the car (yes, our first meal together was fast food – and I didn’t even eat any of it!) It was underneath the mall, and I felt panicked again as I got back into his car. It got worse when he told me he had to go pay for the ticket, but it had been so many years since my last Panic Attack it was easier for me to remain calm.
Eventually we were back on the road and he asked me if I wanted to go home. I didn’t, but there was nothing else I could do. He offered to show me his place, so I agreed to go. When I was back in the cool night air I started feeling a lot better. The rest of the date was pretty much in his room, laughing, teasing and me falling asleep a couple of times.
Later I learnt that the only reason he had agreed to the shift on his day off at my work was to (hopefully) run into me.
Later That Week…
A few days after this I told him what was really going on – about the Panic Attacks, anxiety, all that stuff – but he took it all on board and gave no hint of it bothering him.
There were a couple of times I Panicked around him, but even though he didn’t fully understand, he did his best to help me. Once, I panicked in a drive-thru saying I needed to go and so he handed me my bag and said, “Go.” He had no idea what to do, but ended up doing the best thing anyway – making me laugh! After I giggled, I looked at him with puppy dog eyes, and he grabbed my hand. Grabbing my hand became a anxiety ritual.
We had a few great months together before my illness and the Agoraphobia finally took hold and I was apartment-bound. By that stage, he was in love (and I suppose I was too but I didn’t want to admit it) and it didn’t bother him one bit to come and see me or cook me dinner.
Now, I couldn’t imagine where I would be without this one night happening. The panic and the illness would have eventually happened anyway – I wasn’t looking after myself properly – but the bonus is I have an awesome friend/partner here now.
Relationships are tricky things. They are not meant to be easy all of the time, but they are not meant to make you feel bad either. Before this relationship, I was with someone I did truly care about and he cared about me. However, my “bad” side was not something he wanted to deal with and would often distance himself from me which, in turn, would make me even more clingy.
After a year of being with someone who loves both my good and bad side, someone who realises that when I get panicked or sick doesn’t mean the person I AM has gone, someone who basically loves me for me, I realise just how much I was compromising for the sake of another.
Nothing is ever difficult with my partner. Misunderstandings and miscommunications are few and far between because we both make an effort to get things off our backs or air our feelings. I’m no longer scared if I do something wrong, because my partner won’t hold it against me. Neither of us wants to carry around a fight if we ever have one. We kiss and make up right there and then. Often I think I have annoyed him but he calls me a spaz and gives me a hug. It’s all so easy that I often forget and go back to fearing the relationship like I did with my ex.
It has reenforced an idea in my mind that no matter what, there is always someone on this earth who will be able to treat you right. That opposites do no work. That you need someone who doesn’t necessarily understand you but who is willing to.
So, this anniversary will be a great one, regardless of what we end up doing or where we go.
All I’ll ever be thinking about is how grateful I am.