I spent some time today looking for a psychologist because last night I thought I was going to die.
"I'm going to lose consciousness alone in this bedroom," was something I thought. "How long will it take for them to find my body?," was another.
I was just sitting and reading. I was propped up in bed with a book and my cats and a glass of wine. I was a portrait of relaxation. Then, out of the cold blue, I was awash in panic.
The words on the page shrunk and danced. Sweat bubbled up on my forehead. My neck and chest became slick and the hair at my nape grew wet. My heart was a wild thing, as big as the room.
"I'm having a hot flash," was another thing I thought. "Could I be pregnant?"
I swung my legs onto the floor and tried to stand, but couldn't. The room seemed wavy. I considered walking to SF General Hospital just five blocks away, but knew immediately that I'd have to crawl. I picked up my cell phone and wondered if I'd still be alive when the ambulance arrived.
My hands tingled to the point of numbness. I tried desperately to slow my breathing. The sweating became so profuse that I shed my clothes, though doing so left me unstable and dizzy.
"I'm having a stroke," was something that crossed my mind. "Is this a heart attack?" was another.
Doom and dread and absolute fear pressed down on my entire body. I entertained the idea that I'd never see my boyfriend again, but I was too panicked to feel the weight of that notion. I thought about my cats and how much food was in their bowls.
I wiped my face and neck and chest with the shirt I'd discarded and it became dark with moisture. I placed my hand on my abdomen to make sure the breaths I was taking were real.
My fingers trembled as I sent a text message to my best friend and boyfriend. Both of the messages said, "I don't know what to do."
Never before had I felt so physically helpless. I was convinced that I was going to the hospital. I was sure that I was going to die.
Then, as quickly as it began, it was over. The panic receded. My hands steadied. My breath slowed. The sweating ceased.
A quick Google search later and I discovered I'd had a panic attack. The internet tells me that if I had one, I will likely have another.
I wonder if next time I'll think my life is over.