Saturday night, I went out with my friend Stan, drank more than I should’ve, and was able to forget everything for the time being. It was nice to be me again, if only for a little bit. Sunday morning I woke, dreading a hangover, but feeling okay – there was no anxiety, no headaches, nothing of any kind, other than for some tiredness from the night before.
In the afternoon, my cousin Chris came over. He was my number one reader of anything I wrote, and I was going to show him what little I had of Book Two – an entire chapter. I usually wrote quickly and freely, but that’s all the last several months had amounted to.
As he settled down to read, I sat on the couch and prepared to await his verdict.
And I sank, like my consciousness plummeted out of my body.
I shook my head, hoping to shake off the sensation, and tried to refocus on what I could see and hear and smell, because all those things placed me in the here and now. I was in my back room. Seated on my couch. Waiting for Chris.
And I sank again.
I clutched at the couch to brace myself, tried to distract myself, but that only drew attention to something being wrong.
I excused myself from Chris – who had no idea this was happening – and went into the bedroom to use the phone. I called my GP’s clinic, knowing it was going to be closed on a Sunday afternoon, but calling anyway, hoping somebody might be there. No luck. I rang PANCH – the closest hospital – and asked them if they dealt with acute anxiety. The receptionist told me I’d be better trying the Austin Hospital. The Austin? Where the hell was that?
I hung up, returned to the back room, and sat there, watching Chris read, thinking that maybe if I could survive until he was finished, we could talk and that would kill time, until night, until bedtime, where I could hopefully find relief in sleep.
But again, I sank.
I went into the house and told my mum that I was sick because I didn’t know how else to put it. I said I wanted to go to the doctor, my mum telling my dad to get the car. I returned to the back room and told Chris I really had to go to the doctor as I had a bad headache. He looked at me quizzically, not sure what to make of me, which was on par with how I felt, because I didn’t know what to make of myself.
My parents drove me to PANCH, me in the backseat, cradling my head in my hands like it was going to explode. Resignation crept over me. I was going to hospital and they could take care it. Let the worst happen now.
At PANCH, I lay on the bench, with my head in my mum’s lap, and as I waited the same thing happened to me the night I hyperventilated: my thoughts drifted of their own accord, to detach, and combined with my resignation I relaxed.
The doctor who finally saw me, Dr Kerring, escorted me into a small examination room and had me describe what was going on. He then asked what I thought might be possible causes, and I went through what I’d originally told Dr Cook. Dr Kerring continued to prod, like he didn’t believe a lack of structure could be a problem, so I told him I’d had my nose broken recently. That satisfied him, and he concluded I might be experiencing post-traumatic shock.
I didn’t bother going into my history of odd moods, obsessive behaviour and stuff like that. I hadn’t connected all the dots myself. He made an appointment for me to see one of PANCH’s psychiatrists, and got me a box of Ducene, a mild sedative.
Both actions were assuring, though: firstly, a psychiatrist – somebody to help me get on stop of this stuff, to help me deal with it and unravel it all. The only problem was that due to the nature of PANCH, I wouldn’t be able to see him for several weeks.
Well, at least now I’d have the Ducene.