My latest hysteria attack was no different to those before; it came from nowhere, it was over quickly, and it was completely and utterly debilitating.
I never want to give in, especially not to something I can’t explain or understand, but they are so overwhelming, so real, that the few minutes the attack lasts feel they will be my last on earth. Each and every time.
Anxiety attacks are understood, depressive episodes are understood, but hysteria attacks seem to draw a blank response. So, I decided that this time I would write what I was feeling; document every second as it happened, in the hope I could make sense of it – or at least that the process of writing would calm me down.
This is what happened, as it happened:
This is when you know you’re not normal. When that shadow, that hawker, that fear that follows you night and day, year on year, rises up, takes over and smothers you, forcing you to collapse. Suddenly you’re crying out in pain, screaming into a tear-sodden pillow and tearing at your skin because you’re instantly so full of fear and loathing and sadness and in such pure agony, but you can’t explain why, because in that moment there’s no real reason behind it.
This is when depression gets re-labelled, when you race up the scale to psychotic. You’re scaring yourself, terrified as the world closes in and you are struggling to survive; you literally have to remind your body to breathe, but at the same time you’re holding your breath because you’re afraid to live another moment on earth, you’re fighting to survive whilst wanting to die.
This is the bit no one explains. What switch turned over in my brain? I was calm, so what caused my world to implode in a matter of seconds? Tell me, why does it happen so often, with no warning or prediction? And why is there nothing I can take to help me when it erupts and chaos reigns, putting my life in danger even for a few seconds? Where is the injection, the instant pill, the strength to get me through the attack and the ability to cut it off before the hysteria takes hold? The only drugs I can take subdue me 24/7. I can either be vulnerable to everything, with my life in constant threat, or I can live in medicated cotton wool. Tell me, which would you choose?
I don’t want to take tablets for the rest of my life, I don’t want to be held back anymore, too stupid for the world because those tiny pills dull all of my senses and permanently shut down parts of my brain. I want to write, to create, to study and to work. I want to be safe to dream again without the nightmares returning. But there’s no other solution. No wonder I spend every day exhausted, I’m fighting so hard, and for what?
Sometimes it stays for hours, other times it’s over in minutes, like now. Five seconds ago I couldn’t breathe, now I’m calm with just a thumping headache, red face and a fast heartbeat to prove something happened. Like a woman in labour, absolute agony for seconds then a tense calm before the next contraction; except with this illness that contraction could take weeks to roll by, and can strike at any time. There are no warning signs; one second you’re whole, the next you break – and you won’t know why.
Welcome to hysteria.