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The First of Many (1982)

Guest Author: Philippe

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

I was 23 when I was first blindsided by a “swell” of unwanted/uninvited/terrorizing feelings of mental and physical distress.

Unprovoked, and sitting, I was quietly reading, until, as fast as lightning could strike, I felt a rush to my head and body.

I feel faint, sick, weak, overwhelmed with terror, along with a few of other inexplicable feelings! My reaction to this “swell” was in high gear, trying to figure out what to do. I was so indecisive and felt unable to move and think clearly. (An oxymoron type of situation)

“I think… this is what it feels to die?”

“Oh shit! I think I’m going to die!” I slowly got up, I was so confused, but my mind was racing with questions, and dark thoughts of, “I think… this is what it feels to die?”

“I’m losing my mind and getting there fast!”. “Holy shit, how can that happen?”

I wanted to… I don’t know… run? Stay put? I should stay put. Okay. I didn’t want to sit down or stand. The floor looked so inviting to lay down. Maybe someone will dial 911 for me. Is someone seeing this? A few colleagues are walking towards me (oh no). “Hey Phil” they said, as they were passing by. I looked down at the ground and sheepishly returned the greeting, before making sure to walk the opposite way to the restroom.

What? Oh good-they didn’t notice. Okay. Take it easy now. I quickly turned on the cold water, and buried my head in the sink. Ah! This feels better. Looking in the mirror and starting to collect myself, I needed alone time. I have to call my wife. I want to go home. I want to be in bed. Should I call? What do I say? If I tell my wife, she will call 911!

Twenty or thirty minutes passed. “Hey,” I told myself. “I feel better. Spooked still, but better.” Huh?

The whole thing was, to say the least, a feeling of like having a tornado make its way inside my mind and body.

Um, too much coffee? Yeah, too much coffee.

I found myself a few hours later at the Heath Services Department. I told them, I was feeling faint. The nurse guided me to a room where…yes, a bed! She took my blood pressure a few times, checked if I had a fever and asked me a few questions.

The hospital doctor showed up and was by my side asking me if I knew why I felt faint. I told him I didn’t eat breakfast and drank four cups of coffee. “Well,” he said. “That’s it.”

He told me that I was not sixteen-years-old anymore, and should have something to eat, and to reduce/stop my coffee consumption, and all will be well.

1982 is the year. There were no books to be found. No internet to look up symptoms. But merely other diseases that resemble some of the symptoms. Hypoglycemia? Hyperglycemia? Thyroid problems? Etc…

This was my first “panic attack.” I never thought that I would have hundreds more.

Little did I know, that many other types of mental illnesses were waiting to entertain me in the years to come and even today. Some diseases/disorders are cured, some, I have learned to cope/manage.

Note: My sister Rachelle’s response after she read my letter for SNW.

I love it, a bit short but that is what they are asking for. Have you thought of adding an ending sentence such as where you are today in 2016, one very serious suicide attempt, and many ER visits. Your symptoms continue to this day, but you have learned (taught yourself) coping skills. You now realize that you possess a wealth of information and skills that you have accumulated over the years and that you can share. Maybe you can take one sentence out of your letter to add this. Again just a thought. You know best. Love, Rachelle

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