P for Panic Attacks, P for Prince Charming
Where do I begin? Should I start by sending you the thank you text of us successfully making it through the first day? Or should I just send you a goodnight text and pray that you don’t feel the need to check up on me any time soon? Should I let go of my inhibitions and actually tell you how I feel? Or should I (as protocol demands) be quiet, wait for three days, and then follow up with you – because hey, dating these days is nothing short of chasing your clients for work!
I remember a time when dating was easy. When it was clear as day to both parties that they really like each other and the next obvious step was to date, and see where it goes. These days everything feels like a string of meaningless hook-ups. That people are prepared to do anything to get themselves one less lonely night. I don’t think anyone thinks about the morning that would follow. Because you can capitalise on the euphoria for a few more days until you become in need of another pick-me-up.
Dating is hard. And dating when you have a mental illness is nothing short of cruelty. Some days, I wish I could just go to sleep and wake up to a time when I am financially stable and sleeping next to the love of my life. However, life doesn’t seem to come with its share of shortcuts. So, for now, while dating itself is complicated and hard, opening up to people about mental illness proves to come with its own set of problems.
For starters, there is way too much stigma surrounding mental illness. People don’t understand being sad and being depressed are not the same things. That anxiety is not the same as feeling nervous once in a while. That really commonplace things like an old albeit toxic person walking past you in the middle of the afternoon can make your brain do a somersault. That before you know it the world around you begins to spin. You do everything in your power to control it. Clench your fists too tightly so that that your fingernails digging into your skin reminds you of your own existence. That rushing to the bathroom and splashing your face with water, does not negate the fact that your mind refuses to let you believe you can survive this. That even though it feels like the world is closing in on you, there will always be hope after that. In that moment, you feel both helpless and reckless. It feels that as though it won’t be survivable.
Panic attacks can come out of nowhere. Even though you have a really good day and everything looks rosy, a panic attack can trigger you in ways you cannot imagine. It’s hard being around a person who’s constantly suffering from mental illness. It’s even harder being the person. It’s like the song by Selena Gomez and Julia Michaels:
Feels like I’m always apologizing for feelingLike I am out of my mind, when I’m doing just fineAll my exes will say I am hard to deal with And I admit it, it’s true
While I would like nothing better in the world that to find Prince Charming, I do not think it’s fair to drag another human being into a world riddled with anxiety, panic attacks, and needing 24 hours to oneself to recover from the aftermath of a panic attack. I like disappearing when I cannot make sense of the world. And I run away when my anxiety takes root in my brain and convinces me that I am just setting myself up to get hurt.
I do not what kind of a person would walk in to my life and announce that they are here to save me. But I am pretty sure there are people out there, who do not get insulted when you push them away. Who do not leave you alone in the middle of a busy café, just because they do not understand what’s going on in your head. That there are people who don’t pick fights with you because you find it easier to write about your feelings, than voice them. That there are people who do not walk right in and out of your life, as and when they deem fit. Who do not make you feel that you are a complicated, awful human being just because you’re still trying to understand how to cope with your mental illness.
I believe there are people who like being there with you. Sitting with you in the silence and help you through life. People who enjoy reading what you write because maybe your words give them hope. People who somehow know when to drop a text to you. And sometimes they do it without realising what a profound impact they have on your life.
I am tired of pretending that I just have the flu or that I have runny nose, when in fact, I am recovering from a panic attack. Or just coming out of a spell of depression. So if by some stroke of miracle if we have been out on a date or I’ve let my guard down enough to begin liking you – please know this journey is not going to be easy. It will be hard. And some days will leave us both questioning what the hell have we gotten ourselves into.
But the other days, oh the other days, will be filled with adventures, promises, and hopefully something that leads to our forever.