On Wednesday I went to a meeting on the tube. The dreaded tube.
It could have been worse, but luckily I went midday - my meeting was around then, so it wasn’t too crowded. It went well, in fact, mental health was mentioned and I told them about how I’m at peak anxiety, to which they said “wow, I would never have been able to tell”. I laughed and responded with “this is Burnt Roti speaking to you, Sharan’s at home curled up into a ball”. I laughed louder to get past the awkwardness. Why the fuck did I say that?
I made one huge error though. I drank a coffee.
Lining up for coffee, choosing what you want from a list of unpronounceable words, to a barista that wants to you to order and move fast, to a till where you don’t know the card machine is below the glass and no putting your card on top of the glass won’t work Sharan, you’ll have to reach under it and tap the machine like a normal person…
I always end up saying ‘medium latte’ and I almost always never want one.
So as the meeting ended, I noticed my heart was beating harder and confusingly thought something at the coffee shop was triggering me. It wasn’t the place, it was the caffeine in my system. I stayed in the coffee shop, sipping on water and finishing off some work. Or so I told my friends and the lady I had my meeting with. In reality, I felt too weak and unbalanced to successfully stand up. I was there for an hour and a half before managing to get up and walk towards the tube.
As I was walking (and very aware of how I was walking for some reason…”do I look like Bambi right now??”), I felt the familiar bubbling of pain in my ovaries. It was time for it to start. I rushed faster to the tube and got in. I was at Oxford Circus. Things could have been worse, I guess. I could have been in space with no oxygen.
I got in, at rush hour and crammed into a space. Rummaging into my bag I found painkillers and quickly swallowed two while looking around desperately for a seat. I was feeling a bit woozy but not too bad. The waves came and went. When the anxiety calmed, my cramps filled the void.
Finally someone got off at Kings Cross, (“people always get off here” I smugly found myself saying as if I it was unknown knowledge) and before anyone rushed in, I went for a seat. I clenched my hands and felt my toes curl. The rest of me seemed calm. The waves of anxiety made me grind my teeth, I could taste a bit of blood. That’s not good, I thought, but it didn’t matter, I was staring at the stops and counting them over and over.
“4 stops. 4 stops. Still 4 stops. My god, how is it still 4 stops????”
The painkillers begin to kick in. I look at the ibuprofen package, surprised and realised they were ‘super fast acting’. I never understood that. Who wanted slow acting painkillers? “Yeah, I just want to feel indescribable pain for that liiiittle bit longer please, thanks”.
My stop arrived, I got off, went home, grabbed a hot water bottle and was finally in bed, cuddling myself. This was fine. I can deal with this. I realised my cramps were occasionally distracting me from my anxiety. Maybe I will sleep tonight?
That night, I meditated, did my stretches, left my lamp on (I’m not THAT ready) and put on a ‘sleep’ playlist.
I woke up at 4:30am with stomach cramps. I re-filled my hot water bottle and writhed around in bed for half an hour. Back to sleep.
I woke up at 8:30am.
I had slept 7.5 hours. It was a miracle.