FIRST THOUGHTS ON WHEN THE BUS HIT…
“That was weird” … pretty much my first words the morning after my initial anxiety attack. It had been a great night with close friends. It was December. I’d been putting in some extra hours at work to help prepare and run the school’s winter concert. My immune system had taken a beating from a head cold and sore throat that seemed to have lasted an unusual amount of time. A small infection in my nose had flared up and shown some resistance to the primary round of antibiotics, requiring a second round of much stronger medicine. The new prescription did not allow the consumption of alcohol, so wine with dinner was out. My replacement beverage of choice for the night was coffee. I’m usually a one-cup-a-morning coffee drinker, but on this occasion I went to town, guzzling mug after mug throughout the evening and thoroughly enjoying the late night caffeine buzz.
Our friends left at around 11 o’clock after a night of laughs and great conversation. My wife and I tidied the kitchen, checked on our two sleeping children, and headed to bed. Despite my highly caffeinated state, I dropped off to sleep the moment my head hit the pillow. Little did I know that as I drifted off into my blissful slumber that the number 42 bus to Panicville was heading my way. It was travelling at full speed and its headlights were off. It hit at about 1:30a.m.
I awoke suddenly, my heart racing in my chest. A bad dream? Maybe. I tossed and turned for a few minutes, trying to find that peaceful sleep that had come so easily earlier in the night. No such luck. I sat up on the edge of the bed. I felt bad. My heart raced. My insides felt twisted – almost sick, but not quite. My fingers were trembling and I was breathing hard. I was feeling something… guilt? Dread? Fear? I couldn’t pinpoint it, but I didn’t like it. I began pacing the room and my wife woke up. Confused, random thoughts flooded my mind. I began apologizing for all kinds of things. Being a poor husband, a weak father, and even a below average dog owner. I was filled with a kind of self-loathing worry that was quite out of character for my usual easy-going, cheerful nature.
Luckily (for me at least), my wife had experienced her own battles with anxiety during her second pregnancy and recognized this attack for what it was. She calmed me down and explained what she thought was happening. We googled the side effects of my antibiotic and found many people with similar experiences. Figuring that large quantities of coffee may have enhanced this effect, I fell back to sleep, satisfied with what seemed like a reasonable explanation for this awful, but short-lived experience.
This was just the beginning.