I used to have anxiety attacks. I didn't know that's what they were, though.
I've been in San Francisco, visiting friends and doing ... stuff ... for an entity or group ... that may or may not pay me for my services. (I meant that to sound vague, but it came out a little prostitutey. For the record: I am not a prostitute.)
While in San Francisco, I pulled a typical RuthAnne move and found myself wandering in the sketchiest part of town. For reference, it's called "The Tenderloin," despite the efforts of San Franciscan leadership trying to rebrand it as "The TL." It smells like pee and it's filled with people muttering, "Crack! PCP! Meth!" to indicate what products they might be willing to buy and/or sell. The further I ventured into the Tenderloin, the worse the situation got. I had no plan other than to Just Keep Going and hope that eventually there would be a light at the end of the tunnel.
(FYI: If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, you are going to think City Hall is that light. It isn't, but it's close.)
This is not the first time I have found myself in a strange place, wandering around somewhere I had no business being.
Which brings me back to the anxiety attacks.
Once upon a time, I was a wee little college student in Mexico on spring break. A group of my friends had all headed down together and one night my friends wanted to go to a club. I tagged along, assuming that I would also want to go.
And then, for no reason, I did not.
And when I say I did not want to go to the club, I mean I physically would have rather licked the touristy, Mexican sidewalk than go into that club. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't evaluate the situation rationally, and the next thing I knew I told one of my friends, "Hey, I'm heading back to the hotel!" and jumping into a cab by myself.
If you were to ask me then why I left, I would have given you a seemingly-normal explanation. I didn't want to pay the $20 cover when I wasn't going to be drinking. My outfit was lame. The thought of a foam party seemed wildly unhygienic. I had a headache.
And if you had asked me if any of those reasons justified running off in Mexico by myself, I would have continued down the merry justification. This was a tourist town. People are inherently good. I speak a little Spanish.
But the fact is, things like depression and anxiety and all the rest don't really make a lot of sense.