‘The way my girlfriend reacted to my panic attack left me furious.’

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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.

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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.”

Yeah.

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.

My partner knew the only solution was to get me home, so called an Uber and ushered me into a cab. From there, he texted A and her fiancé M*.

“Hey guys I’m so sorry but I’m taking Hayley home. She’s had a really tough time and has just had a panic attack. Sorry again.”

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After plenty of hyperventilating and snotty blubbering, I was put in bed and had the deepest sleep of my life. I woke at 8am feeling humiliated and fragile.

I shot A a text:

“Hey babe I am sorry for leaving like that last night. I’ve been having really bad anxiety for the last couple of weeks and it all just hit me at once. I’d love to take you out to brunch sometime this week to make it up to you? My shout <3 <3”

For the next couple of hours I fretted about not receiving a response, but my partner put me to ease saying she’d just be asleep. Then lunchtime rolled around. Still nothing.

By 4pm, I received a reply: “Your choice x”

When I followed up with, “What do you mean?” I got nothing in return – I simply heard from mutual friends that A was “disappointed” in me and thought I was “selfish” for leaving before midnight.

The whole ordeal made me feel even more terrible than I already did.

A has known I’ve struggled with anxiety for years now. I was actually flabbergasted she would respond to me having an attack the way she did, when she knows what I’ve been through. I can’t imagine her reacting that way if I had any other kind of illness.

We haven’t spoken since – two weeks have passed.

Do you think she has a right to be so angry at me? What should I do?

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