11. Panic Attack Thursday

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When I was growing up, Thursday was spaghetti with meat sauce day (or Spaghetti Bolognese, as the Germans would say it, or makarónia mé kimá, as we Greeks call it, or ragù, as my Italian buddies insisted we call it, back when we were studying in Heidelberg).

Um. Where was I? Thursday traditions. It seems that a new one is currently in the process of being established: Panic Attack Thursday. I have to say, I don’t like that one at all.

The thing is, my fifteen-year-old hypochondria raised its ugly head. It knocks on the door sometimes—mostly during periods of stress—but the past months have been especially hard. A ballet muscle injury that’s apparently healed but still causes me pain, compounded by a second injury that an MRI couldn’t find a physical trace of, has me nearly immobilized for months. I mean, I walk around, sure, but it hurts. It always hurts. Then an idiot doctor (whom I’m never going to visit again) threw around the word “degenerative,” and now every little sting of pain in my other leg—the good one—has me thinking that no, this is not just an injury, and yes, I have some horrible degenerative disease, and I’ll be in a wheelchair soon, for whatever little time I have left before I die in pain from not being able to breathe as my muscles stop working.

Side note #1: My leg muscles are fine. I just did thirty-two squats, just to establish functionality, and I didn’t even break a sweat. Can somebody inform my fucked-up right hemisphere?

Anyway. Yup, that’s a panic attack for you.

So, Thursday evening. As these thoughts started spiraling in their well-known, intrusive way, I recognized them for what they were early enough to call for Urban to bring me the Lorazepam. I took one and had him stay there with me in bed and stroke me for a while. What a dream of a husband, you’ll think, and you’ll be right.

After a while, and as I was getting cold and my muscles were starting to shake, he remembered something: “You know that panic attacks are in the side-effects of the anti-depressant, right? And so are muscle pains.”

This didn’t really soothe me, but I asked him to bring the insert and read me the side-effects. “Are you sure it’s a good idea?” he asked, but I told him that yes, it’s a good idea, at least I can ascribe pretty much everything I’m feeling to the drug, and that will definitely make me feel better. So, he brought the list and started reading.

We giggled at “sleepiness-insomnia,” and by the time he reached “painful erection,” both of us were laughing at the insane range of symptoms—many of which are “often,” not even “occasional” or “rare.” It dawned on me that, for a drug with so numerous side-effects to be so successful, what the drug is treating must be way worse, and then I contemplated how debilitating anxiety and depression are—so debilitating, in fact, that you’d rather have painful erections, vertigo, muscle aches and constipation than deal with your own brain attacking you.

Yeah, human beings are fucked up.

Anyway, I’m still not sure that I don’t have some horrible degenerative disease, but I’ll just allow my brain to be illogical for a while longer. Sometimes, these things take care of themselves. Hey, I made it to thirty-eight, while battling phobias, depression, and a faulty personality. It’s not a small success.

Of course, another huge problem presented itself when I woke up on Friday: what the fuck do I have for breakfast?

I was too tired of this shit, so I just had a cappuccino and didn’t have breakfast at all. I mean, if I emerge from this a couple kilos lighter, it certainly won’t be a tragedy.