If you need to visit post (1/3), here it is.
I retched until I couldn’t stand straight and made my way to the bed, where I passed out for a couple of minutes. I thought I’d called my mother, only to discover that the phone still lay next to my pillow. Laugh if you want, but I actually thought I’d become delirious. Perhaps I had, for a brief second.
My mom panicked when I told her what was going on. But she wasted no time and called her cousin who lived a little outside London. She asked him to come get me. And so I went to the hospital, where a bird-like doctor flitted around me, took my temperature, asked for my symptoms, and handed me antibiotics. Home free!
I stayed with my family for 8 days, always wrapped in blankets, always smelling of medicine. I didn’t eat. Couldn’t eat. But being in a family home helped. I was able to start talking normally and I began laughing at nonsensical things, as I used to. Of course, it had to end and I had to go back.
Once I came back to London, my apartment seemed haunted. I cleaned it from top to bottom, but I couldn’t sleep. I don’t think I slept properly for the rest of my time there. Everything started up again. I took the 8.18 train to London Bridge, got breakfast, went to work, rinsed and repeated.
I had about 3 weeks left when it happened: I had an anxiety attack. You have to understand: I grew up with family and loving friends always around. I was used to sleeping next to and waking up with my sisters. I was used to being in a bustling house with lots of people and constant noise and company. I wasn’t accustomed to walking in circles by myself in a room where my own footsteps could deafen me.
Anyway, I’d never experienced anxiety like this before. I remember I was just sitting, thinking about when I’d go back. I was in bed and half covered by a grey blanket. The pale blue nightlight was on and everything was absolutely quiet. I was thinking about the time left, counting each day, then the number of hours, then minutes, then checking my phone, then counting; it went a little like this:
21 days – 24 hours in one day – plan out every hour – do I have a calendar? – how will I know when it’s time to leave – check phone! – why has no one called? – oh yeah time difference – so 24 hours multiplied by 21 – too many hours – I need a calendar! – CHECK PHONE – WHY IS THE TIME DIFFERENT??! – WHY CAN’T I HEAR ANYTHING – WHAT HAPPENS IF I FALL SICK AGAIN??? – AMA, BABA, BABA
…and then the loudest sobbing you can imagine. I know, I know. It sounds ridiculous to me as I’m writing it now, safe and warm in my bed at home. But right then, I was unfamiliar with anxiety and I didn’t understand how to cope.
I felt my throat closing up and I couldn’t breathe. And I continued to cry, till the bed was shaking with the continued violence. I heaved and cried and couldn’t stop for the life of me. I felt like the world was going to end and I would never see anyone I loved again and I would never leave the dreaded country. I wanted to go home right away.
So I did the next best thing: I called up my best friend. I told him what was going on and cried and cried, clutching the phone to my ear as if it could save me. He knew exactly what to say and I clung pathetically to his words. The apartment melted away, London almost disappeared. I didn’t want the call to end. But of course it had to. And it did.
I came away from that experience a shaky, nervous sort of person. Where I’d had one anxiety attack, I started to confront the emotion everywhere. My sheer loneliness made sure that anxiety remained my only friend. And so I shopped, shopped and shopped some more, waiting for the next thing to arrive in the mail. I delighted in those brief moments; I’d open up the brown packages, my happiness flaring and then burning out, a bright and brief arc of desperation.
And I got through it. Time after all does pass, no matter what you do. Looking back at it now, I don’t quite know how I managed to come back sane and healthy, but a lot of factors went into it.
And one of them, perhaps the most important one, was him.
…to be continued