Today, I had what I like to call a “breakthrough” in my recent struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. One of the major things that`s been causing(/triggering) the attacks were my work, the caves, and more specifically: the bats inside the caves. I used to absolutely love this job, could hardly be kept away from it, to the point where I`d annoy everyone around me because all I did was work at the caves. And if I wasn`t there, I`d be talking about them.
But through some things that happened (specifically: Dumb ways to die), and the ensuing anxiety and panic attacks, this changed in an 180 degrees turn.
As a result, I have all but panicked every time I had to go into the caves, or when I even thought about what I`d done. I`ve done tour after tour on auto pilot, while trying to calm myself down internally. I`ve avoided anything to do with bats (which is hard if you 1)work at caves and 2)have weird ass friends who love bats). I`ve told my colleague to not schedule me in too much the next month.
I do suspect these are symptoms of an underlying issue, especially considering how the issues did not start with the bats. They were there before. But this has been triggering them worse than anything else. . I can go on into entire 1000+ words in rants about the how and why I think this is happening to me. Again, I`m not a psychologist though, and self-diagnosis can be dangerous.
So sticking to the point of this post: today, for the first time in WEEKS, I`ve felt reasonably comfortable at the caves. It wasn`t 100% like it used to be. I don`t think it`s definitely going back to being fine just yet. I anticipate setbacks, because fixing issues like the ones I had doesn`t just happen in a day. I need to give myself time for that.
But still, I made progress today, and that made me very happy.
What helped though, was the discovery that some bats have been asleep on the ceilings of the caves for long enough that so much moisture from the humidity of the caves collected on their bodies that they essentially turned into 70`s style disco balls with tiny bat-legs. It was so endearing and funny I couldn`t help but laugh about it all day. Me and a colleague dubbed them “disco-bat” (or Chiroptera Discothecica). Because we`re lame like that.
Seeing something panic-inducing turn into a disco ball? Extremely not scary. I guess it`s similar to the Riddikulus charm against a Boggart. J.K. Rowling might have been onto more than just getting rid of Boggarts here.
I actually think they might show up in stories I write in the future. I`m thinking of a way of making one of my characters deal with something similar as what I have been doing. It might not only help me, but I`m kind of hoping it might help other people also understand what this feels like for me, or maybe even recognise some of their own feelings in it and know they`re not alone.
Because while I was lucky enough to know I`m not alone, to know that I`m surrounded by awesome people I can go to when things really get too bad (even if I didn`t act on it as often as I probably should have), I also know there are a lot of people out there who feel much more alone. And if I can do anything to help them get through this, I want to do just that.
Also, disco-bats are groovy. Ba-dum TSSSH.
(Also, they`re supposed to look like this, no worries. It`s just humidity, because they`re so cold and unmoving in their hibernation in a 90% humidity cave. They drink the moist to stay alive though, so it`s all according to plan!)