Panic at the Disco

There are exactly three times in my life where I experienced panic attacks.

The first one happened at the Boston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. (I really want you to listen to the music from Les Parapluies de Cherbourg as I tell this story) I got sober when I was 26 after a tragic relationship with a girl from New Jersey ended. I had been pretty sure she was cheating on me (like she told me she would on our first date). I was pretty sure I knew who she was shagging too. It was a mutual friend who was a marketing associate. But I never got the chance to find out because I went into rehab. When I got out, sober after a few months, I ran into her and the marketing associate at the Film Festival. When I saw them together, I shocked myself by running away. I ran away! And into a coffee shop in Harvard Square. When the friend I was with caught up with me, I burst into tears.

The second attack came ten years later in Civil Procedure. We were having a review session, and I had the startling realization that I didn’t understand the other students’ questions, let alone the professor’s answers. Once again, I felt an incomprehensible compulsion to run. And I did. Right out of civil procedure. Dramatic, eh?

The very last one was today! My gay and lesbian group had a fashion show and I told the guy running it that I would stop by. But unbeknownst to me, the fashion show was combined with a talk to the 1Ls about their 2L job search. I listened to the director of the CDO say all those words that I had listened to with such earnest last year. All about how you have to paint a comprehensive picture for your employers, and think about your financial needs, etc. etc. And all of a sudden I had this urge to get out of there. But not like, “Oh, this is a waste of time.” No. It was like “My skin is crawling with legions of microscopic bugs.”

So. I left. Seriously, I fought the desire to run away the rest of the afternoon.

You might be wondering, but haven’t I had job issues all year? And didn’t I just get an internship. Yes. But I am also having some issues with my dad’s estate that are freaking me out. I would tell you all about it, but members of my family have asked me not to talk about family matters on my blog. It’s not that I believe that anyone has the right to tell me what to talk about. But my relationship with them has deteriorated to the point that I don’t want to hand over ammunition.

At any rate, in case you didn’t have it handy, here is the music to the Umbrellas of Cherbourg.





14 thoughts on “Panic at the Disco

  1. sometimes (not for several months now, thank gawd) i’ll wake up with my heart pounding and a sense of panic. it’s a little like that what-should-I-be-doing thing I recently posted about, but more like what-did-I-already-forget-to-do-oh-crap! feeling. so you’re not alone, if that helps any. hugs and hang in there. sounds like you’ve got people to turn to if you need ’em…including all of us here in blogland. we’re pulling for you, googie!

  2. gudnuff – I know exactly what you are talking about. It’s like the feeling that I have forgotten to do something terribly important, but I can’t remember what it is.

    Thanks for the support. I am glad you are feeling better.

  3. Dear Sweet Discobaba,

    My first panic attack — or maybe it was more of a crazy person attack — was when I got home from driving First Big Crushing Love to the airport so that she could board a flight to travel around the world for a year. I was a senior in college, and arrived back to find my dorm room packed with blenders (we were on a margarita kick) and topless rugby players. Clearly, the party had not just started. I exploded in some sort of tragic lesbo grief bomb. Crying, wailing, even. I believe the refrain was, “She’s GONE!” I am sure I let folks have a party in my room (it was a really nice room) and am pretty sure that they regretted it after crazymeg came home to the roost.

    You will get a job, and it will be good (or at least your second job will), and you will be happy.

  4. I remember my first real panic attack. I was fifteen and suddenly saw the future become bleak. I began to hyperventilate and I kept gasping for air almost as fast as my heart was beating; I couldn’t quite make myself cry, although my body just wanted to let a flow of tears run down my face to relieve the horrible feeling of suffocation. I did eventually cry, and my future got sorted out.

    I trust you’ll be fine as well. It’s scary when we don’t know what the future holds, but the fun thing about life is that the future (whatever it turns out to be) always comes – no matter what. And there’s something beautiful about the way things get sorted out in the end. 🙂

  5. I’m sorry! Is it a coincidence that 66% of your panic attacks happened during law school? I think not! law students go through so much stress and worry about grades, finances, and career opportunities- just understand that these scary feelings are really common (and sadly, part of the indoctrination process- sucks doesn’t it!).

  6. Dude! I have to imagine that panic attacks are miserable.

    I also don’t think the flight reflex is such a bad thing. I mean – think of the alternative. Me. The fighter. I yelled at (and chased off) MUGGERS. WTF was I thinking? I could have been killed! Running isn’t always a bad thing.

    As for the general poop festival, hang in there.

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