Anyone else remember the first time we say Tony Soprano have a Panic Attack on the show? It was the first episode, it involved grilling steaks, and there were many more to come.
I have never had one of those though I’ve heard what it’s like from friends and family.
I’ve had what I guess are called ‘episodes of anxiety’. Here’s how it flows: a tingling sensation in my fingers, a slam of lightheadedness, cold sweat emergence and finally a slow loss of vision that is exactly like the spiral of blackness at the end of a cartoon.
My most dreaded outcome is that I’ll faint in public. I don’t know why. It’s not like that would be so bad. These episodes have happened enough times on subways or inside my own office (which used to have a glass door so anyone could see), that I have confidence I won’t faint. I never have.
There’s a quote I love from Andrew Solomon that is about depression but I think also describes anxiety’s mechanism: “Depressed people often stick pins into their own life rafts. The conscious mind can intervene. One is not helpless”.
Helplessness is the core of anxiety. Regaining control involves telling yourself you can get off the floor now and return to work or the train.
Thank you, David Chase, for showing us what it looks like.