DC Trawler

I have PTSD and I get panic attacks

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[If you’re a new reader, you can get the background on the following here and here. I’m too tired to go over it all again.]

Had another panic attack yesterday. It’s been a while.

I live on a very busy street in DC, and just walking to my Metro station less than a mile away is nerve-wracking at best. Even when my knee hurts less than usual, just making my way down the street gives me a base level of dread.

Several times over the last few years — since I got hit by a car while crossing the street 100% legally here in DC — I’ve had other close calls with the idiots behind the wheel in this city. Much like everything else that comes out of Washington, “Pedestrians have the right of way” is a hollow lie. Motorists will drive right into a crosswalk with people on it. And as hypervigilant as I am now whenever I walk down the street, it still keeps happening. And it triggers some really grueling panic attacks.

Yesterday, I’d barely made it a block from my front door before yet another stupid DC driver in yet another black SUV almost hit me. I wasn’t even crossing the street this time. I was on the sidewalk, walking past the circular driveway of an apartment building. I saw something out of the corner of my right eye, and there it was, the grille of yet another asshole’s black SUV. He was making a left turn, swerving through however many lanes of traffic, headed right toward me.

This one stopped in time. But it still triggered my PTSD. It sent me right back to that moment of impact.

It’s hard to explain what it feels like. If you’re a Breaking Bad fan, their depictions of Hank’s panic attacks are the closest approximation I’ve ever seen. Your heart races, you can barely see straight, and it’s all you can do to make your own body follow your instructions.

(I haven’t driven a car since this happened to me, so my panic attacks are less dramatic. From the outside, at least.)

I wanted to just turn around and go home, but I made it to the Metro and went to the office. The whole time, I felt sort of like I was looking through a foot of solid glass. Like the world wasn’t real, or my body wasn’t really my body, or both. Even just sitting at my desk, hours later, I still had this weird floating sensation. It’s the mind trying to protect itself.

I managed to fake my way through my morning without completely freaking out, but I couldn’t really talk to anybody or make eye contact. Around noon, I had to go back home. On the Metro back, I was hugging my backpack to try to control the muscle tremors. Walking home, I felt like I was going to puke and I had to keep my hands in my pockets so nobody could see them shaking. Even just typing this, it’s starting to come back.

I’ve been taking meds for it, and they worked for a while. Maybe it was just a bad day. The doc said they’d still happen. I’m just not looking forward to leaving the house again.

Kind of needed to get that off my chest. And, frankly, I need to post something this morning and I’m exhausted and I already had this typed out. If it helps anybody else who’s going through this, even better.

Thanks for reading.

Tags : treacher
Jim Treacher