Here Comes Your 19th

Ever have a weekend-long anxiety attack?

I did.

I was awake from about 6:30 AM Friday until — I don’t know — sometime late Saturday afternoon, unable to think, unable to move, intermittently unable to breathe. Oh, I could inhale and exhale, sure. I just couldn’t establish a rhythm for it. I was conscious of the taking in and expulsion of every breath. I had to plan every sip of liquid so as not to interrupt my breathing. How maddening is that?

Late Saturday afternoon, I dozed off. Then woke up. Then dozed off. Then woke up. Then dozed off. Then woke up, each bout of sleep leaving me a little more exhausted than the one before. Finally, Sunday morning, I woke up, incoherent and shaking and unable to doze off again.

Throughout the entire experience, and into Sunday, two song lyrics — just two lines, each from a different song — played on an endless loop in my skull:

Of all the love I have won or have lost,
There is one love I should never have crossed.


A man gets tied up to the ground,
He gives the world its saddest sound.

Before anyone asks: No, there was no substance abuse of any kind involved. Unless you count Diet Pepsi.

If I don’t at least get a story out of this ordeal, I’m going to be very pissed.

So. How was your weekend?

17 Responses to “Here Comes Your 19th”

  1. Jeff Z Says:

    Shades of HtD #10– hope the week treats you better! You’ve definitely mined your less-than-salutary states for material before in a way that no other writer has. I’m positive there are new twists to explore in this area and nobody does it better!

    As for my weekend, saw Die Hard in NH and Richard Thompson in Boston. Missed the first 2 songs while looking for parking, but the rest of the show more than made up for it!

    For a good pick me up: see the Smothers Brothers next time they hit Vegas at the Orleans. We made it there 2 weeks ago and had a blast! If you grew up watching them on TV, seeing them live is the next best thing– or something—

  2. Forrest Says:

    (quietly yet frenetically assumes doctors were informed of highly abnormal event)

  3. Tom Walker Says:

    Oddly enough, I dreamt about you last night, SG.. not directly, but you’d sent me a cross of some description via the (dream) mail, with oddly shaped “spokes”.

    Of course, I dont know you at all in non-cyber terms. I did wake up rather concerned though, and wanted to send you an email via your site and ask if you were okay. Couldnt work out how to private message you via this site; hence the public forum route.

  4. Bart Lidofsky Says:

    Figures your first one would be a lyric of a song that requires a clean 2 octave vocal range (the verse you quoted alone takes 1 1/2). At my best, I was able to barely sing it without going into falsetto (and I sang professinonally).

  5. Forrest Says:

    I prefer instrumentals but never knew why..

    “I forgot the words.”
    — Party

    “You stepped on my french fries!”
    — Today

  6. Charles Bryan Says:

    Not nearly as traumatic as yours. The weather was exactly what summer should be — temperatures in the mid-70s, low humidity, cool breeze and plenty of sunshine. I did yard work, played with the pooch, sat outside and drew, read Business Week (to keep track of my adversaries), and then completely wasted several hours planning my “Hooray! Scooter Libby’s Going to Jail!” party. What am I going to do with that giant minimum-security-themed sheet cake?

    As far as a story goes, frankly if I were an up and coming super-hero/sorcerer, I probably spend a whole weekend doing what you did, right after facing my first horned, crimson, sulfurous, ancient megalomaniacal demigod. That, and working on an incantation to remove certain stains from my spandex.

    I echo Forrest’s first post — I hope someone got a phone call about this. And, for crying out loud, fixate on fun Beatles music! Believe me, you think about Octopus’ Garden or Ob-La-Dee-Ob-La-Da for ten seconds and you won’t think of another song all day. Already, I can’t Desmond’s barrow out of the marketplace in my head.

  7. Steve Gerber Says:

    If I think about “Octopus’ Garden” for ten seconds, I become suicidal.

    On the other hand, putting Kent Nelson through a similar experience isn’t a bad idea at all. Hmm.

  8. Jim Bosomworth Says:

    So I shouldn’t mention that “Octopus’ Garden” started out as a song about a persimmon tree?
    Whatever you do, don’t listen to any Pink Floyd!
    A serious question are you using an APAP machine like the ones prescribed for people with sleep apnea? I don’t know if it would help or aggravate your condition, but your doctor would.
    Have a great 4th!

  9. Matt Maxwell Says:

    Most Pink Floyd pre-Waters-takeover is far from depressing, in my humble experience. Barrett had some moments of self-aware sadness, but not out and out depression. But then I willingly listen to a lot of music that drives most folks from the room in short order, so perhaps best to take that advice with a grain of salt.

    As for the anxiety, I can’t prescribe much. There was a time that I’d get hit with major anxiousness like that and not sleep the night (though generally that wasn’t recurring.) Eventually I figured out that I was obsessing over things that I couldn’t control or prevent, and coming to terms with that helped. Some. It’s not a panacea, sadly.

    Weekend? What’s that?

  10. Forrest Says:

    Well, then, go listen to OLIAS OF SUNHILLOW for a while.

    o/~ Total relating appointed close factors
    of what we regard as the answer lies there,
    and is one hand raised high in the dark…


    …oh, on the weekend I shaved my head. (Not entirely intentionally. Flowbee broke and one thing led to another….)

  11. Starocotes Says:

    My weekend was pretty normal. Went shopping, visited my mom with my wife and daugther, played a bit with my daugther and played a bit Star Wars: Galaxies.

    My last night was not so well though. Daugther woke up at about 1:20 coughing and crying and we had to bring her into our bed. She went back to sleep eventually but it left me rather tired right now.

    This all sounds much better then yours. But from your other books I really think you will make the best of it and get a beautifull twisted and fun toi read story out of it.

  12. columbo Says:

    Hi Steve my best whishes to you !
    Try some antioxidants with SOD, Selenium, Vitamin C, E, B group.
    Green tea.
    I knowe this because my father have enphysema and he have some 30% recovery with this.

    don’t give up !!!

  13. Charles Bryan Says:

    Sorry about Octopus’ Garden — but you wouldn’t have thought of another song all day! Or, like, ever, but we don’t want that.

    Take some tiny comfort that I resisted recommending Van Halen. Bottoms Up!

  14. Brian Spence Says:

    Have you ever tried yoga? I am absolutely not some new age type of person, but in college I took a stress relief class as an elective and they made us take yoga for a few days. First, it can be a lot tougher than you imagine, and second, it really helps your breathing and lowering anxiety.

    I pretty much only practiced the breathing to help me sleep sometimes, but it became immensely useful last summer. I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) and it was the size of a football. To get it out, they had to remove a rib and insert a tube into my lung to keep it inflated. When I regained consciousness for the first time, I realized that I couldn’t breathe at all. It was the most frightening panic attack I had ever experienced. I imagine that’s how awful your whole weekend was (at least I had another good lung). One of the nurses realized what I was going through and yelled at me to BREATHE!! My mind went back to that yoga class and what they teach about breathing and meditation (basically visualizing the air moving through your body). There were many pained breaths, but eventually I calmed my body down and rode it out.

    I honestly practiced my breathing for about three days straight, and they were able to get me out of the hospital in record time. It lowered my blood pressure and definitely made me less stressed. I was back to work in two and a half weeks.

    Hopefully you won’t experience that sort of weekend again, but I hope you give yoga (or some other breathing techniques) a shot to help you ride it out if you do. (By the way, my one year CT scan is this Friday, wish me luck).

  15. Ade Brown Says:

    My weekend was fine thanks.
    We went to Dublin for an REM gig, where a gratifyingly low number of people clapped like metronomes to the songs they knew (qv REM in Paris last year – horrible audience participation).

    We went to the place that they used to make Jameson’s whiskey and I found a new respect for the stuff that is not proper whisky.

    And there was a real headline in our press that said “DOCTOR TERROR” which made me think of your Doctor Fate.

  16. petetheretailer Says:

    Don’t discount the effects of the Diet Pepsi, Steve.
    Sodas used to regularly mess with my sleep patterns until I gave them up a few years ago (the sodas, not the sleep patterns).

  17. Scott Andrew Hutchins Says:

    If you’re depressed, Oingo Boingo’s last studio album, Boingo, will make you even more depressed.