The Other Me

The Other Me

‘The Fugue’

When I seriously began writing, I just as seriously believed that by the age of thirty I would’ve made it. I didn’t have the same pretensions (or delusions) I had as a kid that I would have had a best-seller, but I thought writing would’ve forged a career for me.

I never imagined I would still be living in my parents’ house, living in a carefully maintained safe environment, and not having accomplished very much. They say with puppies never to discipline them by smacking them on the muzzle because they become ‘hand shy’, and when you go to pat them on the head they’ll shy away anticipating a slap.

I’d become world-shy.

As I approached my thirtieth birthday, I became painfully aware this wasn’t who I wanted to be. This coincided with the return of my parents from overseas, and with their return came intermittent pulses of anxiety. I don’t know whether it was because they disrupted my peaceful little world, or because they collapsed the structure of my world and my head was free to turn back inward.

Another consideration was all the writing I’d been doing. Whenever I wrote lots, I’d feel empty. Sometimes you can go too far. Then it takes time to replenish. That year, I’d just written so much and with no real break.

The other remote possibility was the Euhypnos. As occurred years ago when I’d used Xanax, the anxiety had climbed above it. Now I wondered whether using Euhypnos had created a rebound where my head panicked in the absence of calm.

It might’ve been any of these things, all of them, or none of them.

All I knew was it was coming back.

After several showers, I had hot flushes and couldn’t catch my breath. Then the anxiousness came. My response was an extra half of Xanax.

One day, after returning from the football, I got onto my laptop to proofread a screenplay I’d just finished, and the further I read the more anxious I became. This time I didn’t take the half-Xanax. I bore through it until I relaxed.

Several days later, I went to the post office. I walked in and recoiled at the length of the queue, the thought jumping into my head, I can’t breathe in here. I wanted to rush home, but forced myself to stay in line, even though my breath grew short and anxiety stabbed at me.

Not long afterward, my cousin Chris came over to pick up some books, and I dreaded the possibility of freaking out in front of him. He didn’t stay long, but while he was with me my breath shortened, my heart thumped, and my left arm cramped. My head screamed, HEART ATTACK! I knew it wasn’t. I hurried Chris out, telling him I was sick.

I had a shower, telling myself over and over and over I wasn’t having a heart attack, but the panicked side of my mind countered these were the exact symptoms – shooting pains in the left arm, shortness of breath, and heart too fast. It wasn’t even a question of how could I know I wasn’t having a heart attack, because I knew it was a panic attack. The problem was convincing my head.

Again, the answer lay in a half-Xanax.

Both Dr Warren and Dr Jarasinghe told me I was handling these episodes correctly, but just as on the other occasions, the bomb had been set.