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CHAPTER 40 Panic Attack at Dinner

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Copyright 2015 Chris Smith  All rights reserved.

We went down to the coffee shop for an hour of internet before the dinner. I tried to look up the Bank online that was listed on the Eviction papers to get some background information on who they were. One of them listed on the court papers was called U.S. Bank. The only problem was there were several Banks with similar names and it seemed like an endless loop of trying to solve an unsolvable puzzle. I finally decided to give it up for the day.

"Hey Dad, you know what we should do for the Bank," I asked him.

"No, what?"

"When we find out their address we should send a huge truckload of flowers to them."

"And candy too," Dad replied.

"Yeah! Wouldn't that be great! They're at work, working their normal day, and out of nowhere comes this huge delivery with flowers..."

"And candy," Dad said.

"I'd love to see their faces," I said.

We all had a good laugh!

Dad received no major emails from any of the funding sources he had approached about our Veteran History Project, so we left the coffee shop and headed for the dinner. The car pulled up outside the restaurant and I had sudden flush throughout my whole body.

"I'm feeling a little anxiety," I told my Parents while I was getting ready to get out.

"Well, we're not going to let anxiety get a hold of us," said my Dad.

He was too caught up in his own thoughts to notice what was happening. But I knew. I knew what the tickle meant. So I pushed it down and pretended. That's what I did every day. I pretended to be okay amidst the ash covering my soul.

I got out of the car and walked into the restaurant. I was okay when we all were standing in line waiting to order our dinner. I was okay when I ordered my dinner and walked back to our table and sat down waiting for our meals to arrive. But then, suddenly, I wasn't okay anymore.

Here I was, among this large group of strangers, with my Parents seated just two seats down from me, losing my mind. They were oblivious as usual. I wasn't okay at all, not by a long shot. I sat in the chair calmly but the panic had its claws in me and I couldn't push it down anymore. Just like that, I was in Hell. My world was devoid of all hope.

I was at a loss as what to do about it. I looked down at the end of the table where my Dad was sitting, thinking if he looked my way, he would see how not okay I was. But he was completely absorbed in a conversation with some woman sitting across from him. Typical. He was clueless when his attention was elsewhere.

I played it out in my mind. If I blatantly signaled to him, I would call attention to myself. The other people at the table would wonder what was wrong. Then coupled with the panic I'd add embarrassment to the pot. The thought of doing it in front of all strangers made me feel worse. I shouldn't care at all. But I did. I didn't want to lose my fucking shit at dinner.

Then I realized something. I had brought the nutritional supplement the Doc had prescribed as a line of defense to help kick my brain out of the panic cycle. I put off taking any for a little bit hoping the panic would ease completely. But the waves of it kept coming, pushing me further and further down the hole.

I needed to act fast! I looked around; no one was watching. So I reached under the table to grab my backpack. I covertly pulled out the supplement and put two droppers full of the liquid in my mouth. It didn't have much of a taste, which was nice. Course at this point, I didn't care if it did, as long as it did the job.

I looked around again and no one even noticed what I had done. While everyone was engrossed in their meals, I picked at the rest of my dinner. The anxiety wasn't going to help my digestive system one bit. So I waited for the panic to ease. I breathed. I waited. And I hoped.

By the time everyone was through with dinner the panic was gone. I was relieved and exhausted all at once! It had been another long day. I had exercised but hadn't eaten much. I ate a few more bites of the food before I decided that was all I was going to try and make myself eat. I got a box to take the rest of it home.

We drove home after the dinner. I told both my Parents about the attack. Of course neither one of them had even noticed anything was wrong with me during the dinner. Big shocker.

"You weren't paying attention either," I thought to myself.

It's interesting to realize how alone you can be in a group. I was surrounded during dinner by a good twenty maybe thirty people but fighting for my very sanity. Not one person even noticed. I guess we notice what we want too, what we are capable of.

My Mom stopped the car in front of the Cabin and we all sat in the darkened car and talked about where we were, how we were doing, and what we needed to be thinking to be okay and get a good night sleep. Sleep was so critical. We needed it so we could have enough energy the next day to deal with moving and the stress of what was going on. Sleep was the only savior we had, fleeting as it was.


"The essential feature of a Panic Attack is a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort in the absence of real danger that is accompanied by at least 4 of 13 somatic or cognitive symptoms. Symptoms can be somatic or cognitive in nature and include palpitations, sweating, trembling or shaking, sensations of shortness of breath or smothering, feeling of choking, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal distress, dizziness or lightheadedness, derealization or depersonalization, fear of losing control or "going crazy," fear of dying, paresthesias, and chills or hot flushes. The attack has a sudden onset and builds to a peak rapidly (usually in 10 minutes or less) and is often accompanied by a sense of imminent danger or impending doom and an urge to escape."

Psychiatry Online


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