When #blacklivesmatter and Mental Health Collide: Some Thoughts on an Anxiety Attack

So, yesterday was the day during the five day week that I chose to leave the house.  There were things to do.  I needed some writing done and home is just the worst place to do it.  Also, I have four of my meds at once that needed refilling, and one needed approval from my doc.  Good thing my pharmacy and doc’s office were in the same building.

The plan was simple, leave house, catch bus, go to coffee shop for a couple of hours, eat breakfast while I was there and writing, take bus, transfer to another bus, go to doc’s office, then to pharmacy, then the drug store nearby for new lip balm, maybe some fries at McDonalds as a reward for being outside, then bus all the way home.

Not a bad plan.  I’ve done similar plans before, minus the writing bit. Just go, run errands, be back on the bus before the transfer runs out.  It’s short, it’s quick, I’m back before the fact that there is people and weather surrounding me gets to me. No eye contact, earbuds in at all times, make myself look as unfriendly as possible, in and out and back again.

Oh, did I ever mention that I have GAD?  Because I do.

The plan was going smoothly until that first bus transfer.  I was already a little hyped up on nearly missing this bus, then some lady wouldn’t take the “earbuds and short answers” hint.  Then the bus driver kept fussing at someone with the “headphones on too loud”, which made me paranoid as fuck b/c I don’t play my earbuds that loudly, so I had it practically on mute when she pointed it out again and that got me so worked up that I got off the bus two stops early and had to hoof it, cane and all.

So my mind just had a little meltdown on the way. All of these things may seem simple inconveniences of life to you, dear reader, but for a brain on GAD, simple inconveniences turn into big reason to worry very quickly and sometimes without warning. Last Saturday, a silly trigger I’m not sharing but had nothing to do with protesters nearly ruined my pretty good shift at the women’s clinic.

Thankfully I made it to the doc’s office, and they noticed that the hyperventilating teary woman who very much NOT FINE, as I said I was, took me to one of the back offices and had a nurse talk me down.  He asked me if I had anything I could take.

And here’s where things get just plain fucking hilarious.  See, I have an emergency script for Ativan.  Emergencies only.  Keeps me out of the ambulances and everything.  Problem is, I’m also a Black woman with a mental illness. What if a cop decided that the small amount of pills I carry with me isn’t for emergencies? Or knows but just don’t care? Wouldn’t that just be so funny, accosted and accused of having the wrong sort of drugs.  Oh the anxiety attack one could have in jail could be epic!

We also talked about having a little card to show someone if I happen to be having a meltdown in public. Just a simple “Hi, I have anxiety.  Please don’t call the cops.  They might kill me instead of help.” (okay, that’s my first draft). Because wouldn’t it just be a fucking laugh riot if someone mistook my crying/short of breath/eye darting wildness for something dangerous?  “911, this large Black woman is acting out. Please send someone to shatter her spine or shoot her in the head; she’s scaring the white folks!”

At the end, I left with a little keychain mounted pill holder that looks very professional.  Or like I could be smuggling cocaine or something.  That doesn’t help make me feel as calm as the thought of having emergency Ativan within reach should.

And as for that card, I’m still working on the wording:

“My hands are up, please don’t shoot”  

“Unless I pass out, call no one”

“I’m unarmed”

“Please don’t kill me because my brain is fucking up”

When #blacklivesmatter and Mental Health Collide: Some Thoughts on an Anxiety Attack

2 thoughts on “When #blacklivesmatter and Mental Health Collide: Some Thoughts on an Anxiety Attack

  1. 1

    Virtual hugs! (Because physical ones could be stressful.) I may be white, but with the green hair and the pentacle, I’ve worried about the valium I carry. I know it probably doesn’t help, but I’m available if you ever need someone to talk to. Have you thought about a medical alert bracelet or necklace? Mine is reassuring when I worry about all the pills I carry.

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