I had a panic attack yesterday. I had used an in-store toilet in a supermarket and kids had shouted in and then turned the lights off.
I was trapped in the dark, I shouted repeatedly and after a few minutes the lights went back on.
Maybe it was teens pranking a friend, but it triggered a panic attack for me.
My breathing went, my head got sore. I was confused and frightened.
I could only make it to the customer service desk to say what happened and I then had to go outside and go sit at the bus stop.
I couldn’t face going to look for things. I had in my head going back into town by bus and then getting what I needed at the train station in Glasgow (another 40 minute trip).
A couple of minutes. A ‘harmless prank’. I was all over the place.
I wanted to scream, I was physically shaking. I was out of my usual.
I had walked earlier to the hospital to see a relative, but I’d mistimed it and ended up sitting in the corridor to wait on the food trays coming out. I handled that okay.
I was patient and quiet and tried distracting myself. I had looked at bus times on my way in thinking I could go and get things I needed later. My head was stressed with the timings but I tried to manage it by thinking that it was okay to wait and I didn’t want to disturb anyone.
I then walked to the big store. I needed things. There wasn’t a direct bus, I checked and it was dry, I knew I could get back by bus, so not a massive issue. Fresh air and a wander about.
Then I realised I needed the toilet, I suffered the inevitable hand dryer noise and then doors banging closed and open and again. A shout of a name and the lights going out.
I panicked and shouted ‘turn the lights on’, it was minutes in the dark. Pitch pitch black. I couldn’t see. I was stuck. I froze and didn’t know what I was doing.
I tried to say what happened when I got out using my ASD awareness card.
It took a long wait outside in the fresh air and the prospect of a long pointless trip by bus and train to make me go back in.
The lights. The noise. So many people. Having to think where things were and going an item at a time. Head full and sore. Needing earplugs and to cancel out the noise.
Getting further. Stopping. Starting.
Feeling stupid and lethargic. Glacial pace of thinking. Anger about the kids and the thought of being derailed from what I had planned to do.
Conscious of my breathing and shaking, trying to steer away and around people.
Item, think, Item, think.
Made it around. Sat down after paying to fix my bag and calm myself.
Days aren’t always straightforward and you can’t foresee triggers or stresses or panic situations.
I can write it after the event, the racing feel in chest, the tightness in head and the whirl of thoughts make ‘at the time’, so difficult.