It was 10pm on a Friday night when a tidal wave of anxiety hit me.
It had been a ferocious week at work – I had a bunch of deadlines that needed to be met, and not enough time to meet them. I purposefully got into work at 6am – hours early – and was chained to my desk for the next 12 hours.
When I turned up to my girlfriend’s engagement party at 7pm, I could feel a concoction of exhaustion and stress fizzling away inside my chest. I was irritated that I didn’t have time to go home and get ready like I had planned, instead, I had to hurriedly do my makeup and hair at work and hop in a taxi.
I had downed a few champagnes and chatted with my closest group of girlfriends while our partners mulled over the prospects of cryptocurrencies. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to see the bride-to-be, A*, with her needing to tend to all the guests, but was surprised that we actually had so much time together.
It was a gorgeous event. So many of the people I love were in the same room.
Because I hadn’t eaten all day, the alcohol hit me harder than it normally would. Within an hour of being there I felt tipsy; within two I was merrily drunk. I felt like the stress had washed away with a few glasses. It was a huge relief, and I was having the best time.
And that’s when the text came.
“Is Hayley so f**king slow at the moment, or is it just me? She was sh*t this week.”
My coworker had accidentally sent a bitchy text about me, to me.
I quietly moved into the bathroom and burst into tears. Before I had the chance to take a deep breath, my mind was already racing with a million toxic thoughts. The alcohol had blurred my ability to keep my anxiety at bay. The horse had bolted – I was in the grips of a full-blown panic attack.
I’ve suffered with rather severe anxiety for about two years now. I practice daily meditation and still receive psychological help every now and then to curb my triggers. Mostly, I can get through the milieu of life unaffected.
But when the tap of my anxiety is turned on, it’s near impossible to turn off.
I just couldn’t stop the tears. After I texted my partner what was happening, he met me and tried to calm me down to no avail. We’ve been here before: my anxiety flickers somewhere between intense anger and depression in those worst moments. There is no reasoning or rationalising with me. I was just a mess.