It was supposed to be a great night out. Even more so because I hadn’t gone to any clubs yet and it was the birthday of one of my friends. As young people do, we drank too much, and staggered outside of the student residence, making our way towards the metro.
Inside the cart, people were sitting and standing everywhere, staring at us, the crazy lot, singing and dancing, laughing louder than the jokes were funny. I was talking to no one in particular. Just taking in and enjoying the scene of carefree youth.
We reached our first stop and stumbled outside the opening doors, heading towards, what I call, “the never-ending tunnel”, the long white tunnel that connects the subway platforms. It takes at least 2 minutes to walk the distance from one end to the other, so in a drunk state, that felt like an eternity.
While we were walking my thoughts took over. I was slightly behind everyone else, who were now talking amongst themselves. Little groups had formed and my smile started to fade. I could feel the sickness taking over. Not from the alcohol, but fear.
The fear of being left behind.
I walked slower. Slightly leaning against the wall I wanted to see if anyone would turn around. And they did not. They walked on, happily, just as before. And the thoughts came crashing in.
“They don’t need you. Everyone is fine having fun without you. You’re just a tag-along. Did you think they considered you to be of value? Idiot.”
From that moment on, the whole situation feels like I had been in a stupor. My body slumped to the ground and I started breathing frantically, looking on as the group went further away until they finally turned the corner and disappeared.
Panic rose up and I started to cry. It felt like ages, sitting there. Petrified, breathing, watching, heart pumping, crying, breathing, crying, more breathing. Until finally a young woman stopped to ask me if I was ok. I could barely bring out a word. I must have looked like a complete mess. Finally I caught a breath that actually transported air to my lungs and I gurgled “Panic attack”, just as two security workers came up to us.
They escorted me outside and waited until the person I had texted arrived to pick me up. I still hadn’t calmed down and felt so silly in front of these two grown men, sitting on cold stone steps, drunk, hyperventilating and bawling my eyes out.
That was my first time experiencing a panic attack and the whole ordeal lasted for exactly 48 minutes.
48 minutes of overwhelming terror.