I usually finish a bottle of wine whenever I open it, especially if it’s red. My grandma taught me (no matter how true or untrue) that the wine will spoil by the next day. As it turns out, the wine doesn’t necessarily always spoil, but it will taste different on account of the sudden oxidization. The wine that I drank a few sips of last night was two nights old, and I drank it from the bottle because I didn’t know what else to do with it.
I don’t usually do that anymore because I know the value of the glass, for the aromas, the visibility, the heat transfer from your hand, and all. But I didn’t care so much about the glass last night, or perhaps I did, but I didn’t know how much. It was an old bottle of wine, so what the hell. I didn’t know how much I cared about anything last night, flirting to some degree with the nihilism that I’d known before.
It crept toward me last night. I drank only a few sips and stood in our living area. “Well, I guess we can go to sleep because there’s nothing else to do tonight.” Zach thought that was funny, and suggested that we watch something on the television and open a bottle of wine. I didn’t want to stare at screens anymore; I was looking at how the width of my feet fit perfectly within each panel of wood flooring. I didn’t know why I was trying to finish the old bottle, out of the bottle. I didn’t know what I was doing or what I wanted to do.
One of our neighbors was moving out that night, so I went over to ask if I could help at all. She was worried earlier in the day and I needed to focus my mind on something other than myself. The following interactions, however, left me feeling tense and even more alone. The two neighbors didn’t like each other; the one moving out was frantic, and the one staying seemed upset, although he had a friend over who seemed similarly standoffish. It was like a bad vortex in the middle of Los Angeles, so I scurried back home and perched on my own couch again.
“I don’t feel good,” I told Zach, “so I think I’m going to just go to sleep.” We always go to sleep at the same time but I felt myself unraveling in real time. A few tears started rolling down my cheeks; he was surprised and upset by this, but I couldn’t help it. Moments later, I was undergoing a full blown anxiety attack, locked in our bedroom with the lights turned off, wiping tears and snot away with the arms of the sweatshirt I was wearing, my body coiling up and convulsing across our newly cleaned white sheets. I couldn’t have him see me like that, and the solitary confinement always helps me to calm down. To focus on one point, zone out completely, and breathe. Once I stop crying, I stare until my vision blurs and I remember that one time in fifth grade when my best friends had the idea that we should all put ourselves in trances. It was evil, I thought at the time, but I tried it. Turns out it was only so effective anyway.
A few minutes later, I got up and took off my dirty sweatshirt. I opened the door and Zach was sitting there, still frustrated that I hadn’t opened it for him. He made a remark about his frustrations, which sent me into another spiral, this time over the bathroom sink. I splashed my face with cold water as I stared at myself in the mirror, willing the hyperventilation to stop. I haven’t had a panic attack in a long time, but I get so sad whenever I see myself in the mirror having one. I get sad looking at the red eyes because I can see that they don’t want to be red. And the thoughts have piled up so much that I can’t reclaim my hold on them. I can’t sort them out anymore, and for those few minutes all I’m left to do is admit that they’ve overcome me, over the sink in the bathroom, laying in the dark on the bed.
At some point, I walked by Zach again and told him that I couldn’t drink wine that night. He looked at me and I drank a Xanax down with a sip of water.
After an hour or so had gone by, it kicked in and I felt calm. The tingling adrenaline that had been running through wrists while I was over the bathroom sink had stopped. My heartbeat was slow and I thought about the possibility that it would stop. I’d have to take a lot more Xanax for that to happen, I know, but the idea of artificially bringing your heart rate down feels dangerous. It is, I suppose.
But I am worried. I am excited for the changes that are happening in my life, but I am also worried that this anxiety and the resultant self-isolation will be more frequent in the upcoming future. Anyone who has known me through a depressive spell knows that I separate myself when I feel anxious and depressed. Not because I don’t want to be around people per se, but rather because I am trying to sort through thoughts. I am grappling with them and every added interaction is a new variable that I will have to account for. By limiting my interaction with the outside world, I can begin to catch up on everything. New things are things to think about. If I stay in a room alone, nothing changes and I get a break. A chance to figure things out.
The unfinished bottle of wine is still on my counter now, and I’m not sure if I’ll drink the last few sips or throw it away. I don’t know how I want to handle most of the decisions at hand right now and the anxiety is starting to build up.