About a week ago I got the flu and it kicked the shit right out of me. I had fevers, cold sweats, aching joints and muscles, and violent coughing fits. It really was dragging me through the mud. I went to the hospital, because my mom told me that I had better get checked out before it turned into pneumonia, and they told me that there was definitely something in my chest, but the airways were open and that I should come back if I get shortness of breath or other complications.
Well, I got the shortness of breath a few days later, and the other complications were a bit more severe than I would have liked, but they weren’t deadly, so that’s good, right? It’s really hard to describe the feeling of despair I had when I was at my worst. It was like I couldn’t control my own thoughts, and every time someone suggested something that either wasn’t true, or wasn’t even possible, my mind started turning it over and trying to figure out ways it could be happening.
For example, I have some Republican friends that are always sharing things to do with conspiracy theories. It’s almost as if it consumes them. I always have a look into them, but come up with my own conclusions, because although I see the possibilities, I just don’t see the probability in them.
Except when I was sick. Then I not only entertained the fact, I sat there with my teeth clenched, waiting for the CIA to take my friends away and shut them up for good. You have no idea how hard it was to not start crying about the inevitable loss of my friends, and the knowing that I did nothing to save them. This feeling was compounded every time I coughed, which was pretty constant throughout the day and night. I don’t know if it had something to do with the feeling of my chest being constricted, or if it was some neurological side effect of my asthma, but either way, it was all I could do to keep from calling them and yelling out, “I KNOW YOU ARE RIGHT! YOU NEED TO HIDE, BECAUSE THEY CAN’T LEAVE LOOSE ENDS LIKE YOU LAYING AROUND. WE WILL FIND YOU A SAFE PLACE HERE IN CANADA. DON’T TELL YOUR FAMILY OR FRIENDS.”
I know it seems crazy, and I can’t explain it any better than that, but it was a pretty freaky feeling to have for two days. I remember trying to think of ways to explain it to my wife without her getting worried, because I was so scared that she was going to leave me if she knew how crazy I was. I used words like insecure, uneasy, and closed in. I started crying uncontrollably whenever she did something nice like make me a smoothie for my shredded throat, or gently rubbed my back with her healing hands. I couldn’t believe that she still loved me, because I felt like such a useless piece of shit.
I know it was irrational, but it’s how I felt, and the worst part was constantly telling myself that this is just a side effect, and that I’m not really going nuts. Then in my next thought, second guessing whether I would even know whether or not I was falling off the deep end. I just kept on saying, “This isn’t real, your family loves you, and this sickness will pass.”, and it eventually did.
I’m pretty sure that if I was really going insane, I wouldn’t trust a word I said, therefore, I have to think that it was just some sort of anxiety associated with not being able to breathe properly. No matter what the reason behind it was, I hope that I never have to deal with that again. It was downright scary.
Have you ever seriously questioned your sanity for extended periods of time? I just wanted to hug Mrs. Birdman, and I did a few times, but was afraid that she’d think I was being too needy if I hugged her as much as I wanted to. The truth is that it was the only time I felt safe, but I was still too frightened to try and explain that to her. Every time I started, I would get scared and say something like, “I don’t know how to explain this. I feel kind of uneasy and closed-in.”
That sounds better than, “I think that if you don’t hug me until I fall asleep, that darkness will encompass me and my soul will turn black and give itself over to the Demon of the Underworld.
Of course I don’t believe that that could actually happen, but when you are constantly second guessing all of your beliefs, anything seems possible. It was as if the world was out to get me, and every time I coughed, the feeling was multiplied briefly by ten.
The whole time it was happening, I kept thinking that I should be recording these intense feelings, and then reading them back with my rational mind. Every cough was kind of like when the little girl in the Skrillex video First Of The Year, would send the sound waves at the pedophile. I could see and feel the waves in the air.
Another thing it could be likened to would be a depth charge or other explosion underwater. When I would look out the window, it would be like sparklers going of intermittently with much more orange light. I think that might just be from changes in blood pressure after coughing so much. There were a few times that I blacked right out for a few seconds after having a coughing spell, and I think that’s a blood pressure thing.
Anyhow, that has all passed, and they gave me some steroids to get my lungs back to working condition. I feel like I’m back to normal mentally as well. I have read a little about it, and it seems as though anxiety and shortness of breath go hand in hand.
I guess I just need to recognise it sooner and do something about it. You shouldn’t go too long on decreased amounts of oxygen, so if you find yourself short of breath and feeling anxious or paranoid, get to a doctor or get someone to help you out, because it’s a horrible feeling, and you don’t have to have it. They can get your airways freed up in mere moments nowadays, so no one should have that feeling of despair.
Breathe, breathe in the air, don’t be afraid to care,