*The author of this post is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.
I can’t breathe. The room is spinning. I can hear my heart pounding in my ears and I know I am shaking but I can’t stop to see how much, I am running.
I burst through the doors of the pub and scramble for the packet. I can’t find a goddamn lighter. I can never find a goddamn lighter.
I hurry up the street looking for someone, anyone who might have one. I check my jacket one more time and feel the cold, hard, lump of plastic.
I rush into an empty, dark side street.
How to talk to someone with anxiety. Post continues after video.
I lift the flame to my mouth, cup the cigarette to protect from the wind and inhale.
My world steadies, my feet feel firm on the ground, my shoulders relax, I realise I’m crying.
This is how my anxiety presents itself. It’s sudden, it’s scary and it feels like I am losing control. I’ve had this level of anxiety for over 10 years. I go to a psychiatrist and a psychologist. I take medication. I meditate. I smoke.
Last night the North Sydney council voted to bring a total smoking ban to the CBD. They want non-smokers to take back the street. It makes sense. I understand it. I won’t cope.
I smoke because it is the only coping mechanism I have found that helps me in those moments. I understand the detriment to my physical health. I do not need to be reminded. I am riddled with guilt constantly because of it. As I’m sat by the hospital bed of my Dad, I feel that guilt. I felt that guilt for the three years I dated someone with Cystic Fibrosis, helping him to get up the stairs of an evening and rushing him to hospital at night because his lungs were once again failing him.