There are too many ways we can get our expectations up. Luckily for New Haven I'm not talking about the lack of attacks from the Exiles turning into a full-on assault. We've been down that road, and no one here has any realistic belief that we can find peace in the short term.
Unluckily for me, I'm talking about my own expectations. I guess I've had too many good days of late, days where I don't feel like some angry god is reaching down and shoving their hand against my brain and heart. I've still had minor bouts of dark moods and jangling nerves, but overall my outlook has been good. I've even been keeping up with my jogging in the morning, which was a test of mettle today. Rain, and sixty degrees.
About halfway through my run I had a panic attack. I was brought back home on a golf cart because I couldn't uncurl myself from the tiny ball I crunched into after the attack. I didn't want to see the staring faces. Shame and embarrassment kept me almost immobile.
I used to be one of those people who sneered at the idea of panic attacks. I always thought it was kind of stupid to be freaking out for no reason, becoming irrational and incoherent, totally incapable of dealing with the world. My arrogance was strongly bolstered by the body control techniques I learned in martial arts and in my firefighting classes. You can't control your tiniest movements and breathing without strong mental control as well.
I've been having them for a while now. The first one hit me not long after I started experimenting on the zombie captives. They grew in frequency and severity, and let me tell you: panic attacks are nothing to fuck with. The sense of pervasive, overwhelming fear that hits me, as if the entire universe suddenly bends and pushes on my body, is enough to make me feel like a huge douche for panning this condition in the first place. The reason more people don't have sympathy for people who suffer through them--aside from not having the experience themselves--is because words and description can't begin to explain how powerless you are in the grip of the attack.
This was a few hours ago, and I'm still feeling the aftershocks of it. I remember reading some of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files a while back (before and after The Fall, they're my go-to rereads) and being fascinated by the idea that everything a wizard sees in their special Wizard's Sight is indelible and fresh in their memory forever.
The good as well as the bad. And Butcher made the point that enough bad things that you can instantly recall can drive you nuts. That's how I feel right now, as I think about the fist of panic that drove me to the ground today. I feel like I'm right back in that moment all over again. It isn't as powerful, but my hands get a tremor while I type if I don't distract myself.
While Jess was petting my hair and mumbling softly to me shortly after, a herd of zombies attacked in a tight formation, nearly two hundred of them. I heard the bells and thanked my lucky stars that Gabrielle had more insight and common sense than me. I thought I was ready to at least defend against the undead. I was so fucking wrong that the light from being right will take a thousand years to reach me. If I'd had that panic attack on the wall, which is likely since one of the triggers is large groups of people--one of my biggest stress factors--then I could have died. Worse, I could have cost someone else their own life.
I said before that life isn't preset and simple, and that's true. You don't heal from injuries either physical or mental to become exactly who you were before. You change each time, constantly evolving into a newer you. The problem for me right now (aside from being a selfish dick and writing all about my own problems instead of, say, the zombie attack) is that there's no guarantee the person you become is someone you want to be.