Two minutes of panic.

On Friday night, I thought I was going to be killed.

There was no real lead up to this event, and nothing ever came of it. Obviously I wasn’t killed, and perhaps that was because of the panic.

Friday began as it always does. I catch the bus from from one stop into the city, then switch buses to transit to another neighbourhood where I work. When I leave, I remove any identification tags and stow them away in my pack. I put on my sound reducing headphones and listen to whatever iTunes suggests for that particular day. On this occasion it was a mixed bag, from Van Morrison through to Calvin Harris then back to Jerry Lee Lewis. I board the bus and try to sit in the back corner so that I can see who gets on and off. I switch buses in order to get back to my neighbourhood and continue as normal.

On this day I noticed these teenagers get on the bus, complete with hoodies and smelling like cheap cigarettes (or weed, but typical me has no idea what weed actually smells like). The bus pulled up at the stop before mine, and they got off. Further on the bus stops again, and as I step off the bus, I see the two hooded figures walking up from where the bus had stopped. It seemed fine. I kept a steady pace and a steady breath. They are just kids, what could they do?

I kept moving, it was only a five minute walk to home by this point. Then I made the mistake of turning around, and the boys were not even 15 steps behind me now. They would run closer every time I turned and kept walking. By this time I figure something was not quite right, and I began to pick up my pace. I paused my playlist and listened for the boys. I could hear them laughing about something. To get back to my house I have to go through a creepy alleyway. Turning up the alleyway, I could feel hairs standing up on the back of my neck, and my stomach felt like it was going to either come out of my mouth or fall into my shoes.

With the crushing weight of impending doom that I know so well finally getting the better of me, I began to walk even quicker. At which point I could hear running behind me. At last, I found the end of the pathway and some streetlights. I turned again to see the boys a few steps behind me. Laughing. Not a happy typical laugh, but what sounded like a really evil laugh. They made eye contact with me, then turned down the street and ran off.

This was when my body began to react in a more physical way. I couldn’t breathe at all. I could feel my throat closing up and my stomach doing trapeze tricks. The breathing picked up and then the hyperventilation set in. Breathe in, cry, breathe out, cry. Keep breathing. Sobbing. Until I got to the front door, where I firmly locked it and all of the darkness away.

When I look back on this, I consider the following:

  1. Am I being paranoid? Probably.
  2. Were the boys just late for dinner and running so they got in less trouble from the chef? Potentially
  3. Was I being followed? Yes, even if it was unintentional
  4. Was I going to be attacked or robbed? Maybe

After that, I realised that I wasn’t going to be killed. If the boys were going to rob me, they would have done so. They were all of fifteen apiece so I would have been fine, if a little battered and cut after the potential fight they would have had on their hands.

In the two minutes where the panic set in to when it subsided, I thought my life was over. I thought that they would kill me, take everything of value I was carrying and leave me to die in the street down the road from my house.

Being followed (or the thought that I am being followed or watched) is one of my triggers. It will set off a panic attack, a depressive episode, a feeling of complete terror and hopelessness. I felt like he was back. Ready for me. Ready to wrench the silver spoon right out of my mouth. In that moment, I was ready for the shouting, the pinching, the biting, using my body against my will. No consent. None of it was consent.

When you think you are crazy, everything feels like a mess (at least for me it does). It feels like my own reality has been altered and taken from me. That anything further is probably something I made up in my head for attention. Second guessing every decision, every choice, every movement, is just the way it is. Reality isn’t reality. Dreams are not dreams. What happened and what I think happened is a disjointed blur of confused and angry expression.

Not being able to seperate reality from my own truth is the most horrific part of this whole..thing. I wish I could think of a better word for what this is. Journey doesn’t seem right, as I’ve already lived it and now I’m just reliving it again, so it’s not really a journey. It’s not an adventure. I’m not doing this for my own enjoyment or amusement. This is not an attention seeking exercise. This is not a cry for help. This is just me. Trying to work out how I ended up here. Trying to figure out how to explain to people what happened, without the fear of them judging me or seeing me as used, disfigured, dirty, damaged goods.

Two minutes of panic has led to an entire weekend of confusion and anger. Even now, I can hear my 40 year old (at least) house creaking and I feel like at any moment, I could be attacked. Where I live in the world, wildlife is not an uncommon occurrence. So logically I know it may just be a fox or some other kind of mammal. But in my dreams, it could be him coming back again.

Two minutes is all it took. 120 seconds.