August 15th, 2019

moonphase anger

Meltdowns/panic attacks.

My life is a constant barrage of torment. Itchy skin no matter what I do, clothes always bother me, my own hair bothers me, the emotions of people around me that I can't block (even from people I can't see), sounds are too loud, lights are too bright, my vision is ridiculously acute1, and I can hear some sounds that neurotypical people can't hear (even some ultrasonic frequencies)2.

As such, I hate, hate, HATE public transit. The noise of the bus, the noise of the people, the mere fact there are people there at all, the gods-awful amount of time it takes to get anywhere (especially nowadays; my new apartment is 1.5 to 2 hours away from most of the places I go), the smokers at bus stops (EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!), the crying or screaming kids, the motion sickness, the boredom (can't read, motion sickness gets worse), the stink, the knowledge that there isn't any real way to clean the seats that hundreds of people have sweated/pissed/shat on, the ugliness of the inside of the bus, and did I mention the people? Especially the people who can't fucking shut up! No, people at the back of the bus, I do *not* want to be able to hear your conversation all the way up in the front two feet away from the driver. And the dingdongs that carry on conversations with the bus driver are even worse!

But I'm poor, so I manage. I usually play music on my headphones to drown it out, and stare out the window. Or listen to an audiobook. If it's really bad, I close my eyes. But sometimes I can't abide music or audiobooks, so at those times I put earplugs in and put the (silent) headphones on over them. Even that isn't enough. I really need to invest in like, professional grade sound blocking tech.

The only time I *can't* cope is when there's way too many people on the bus. It's like I spontaneously develop claustrophobia. I get very close to panic attacks when I do, and have to focus on breathing exercises or sing or hum to myself quietly. My personal space bubble is about 2 or 3 feet around me in all directions; anyone being in that bubble is another thing stressing me out. Friends are tolerable. Strangers are NOT. (Y'all remember by Touch Map a few weeks ago? All red, where strangers are concerned.) Especially not male strangers. I can kind of tolerate a female stranger being in my personal space bubble, but *not* men or boys.

Sometimes I *do* have full blown panic attacks. One day about a month or two ago, I was edging a panic attack because we were all packed in there like sardines, I had to stand very uncomfortably, and I'd been feeling super impatient because the trip was taking so long, when somebody said or did something (I forget what) that set me into a full blown panic attack. The outward behavior I exhibit during such panic attacks is I become an angry asshole and start cussing people out. Which I did. But I managed to get myself off the bus before the driver could kick me off.

Not sure if that's a panic attack or a meltdown, come to think of it. Looks like a meltdown. Feels like a panic attack. Point is, if there's intolerable amounts of noise, and I can't get away, I get angry as well as terrified. And I have to get away quickly because when I have meltdowns/panic attacks like that, I don't like the person I become. I used to have a real problem with violent outbursts during such attacks. It's been under control since high school, but if I hadn't been so close to the door, if I hadn't been able to get out before the bus door closed, I would have progressed from cussing people out to screaming at the top of my lungs. I wouldn't have been able to help it; my self control does have limits, sadly. And if it got REALLY bad, I'd either throw something, or hit a wall with my fist hard enough to hurt myself.

I haven't been angry enough to scream in public for about 15 years or more, thankfully. But I haven't been in such horribly intolerable situations long enough to feel trapped since I left home to live on my own. The fact that it got bad enough to actually cuss someone out disturbed me.

Anyway, after that incident, I was feeling so [angry animated squiggly lines] that I couldn't tolerate any buses til I calmed down. Took a Lyft the rest of the way.

Since then, I have avoided crowded buses at all costs. There's this bus stop on my way to Brooke's place that has three different buses using it. The last two times I went to Brooke's place, I let three or four buses go past me because they were ALL packed with people. Only at the fourth or fifth bus did I finally score a tolerably populated bus.

1 = If I'm in the MAX train when it's stopped and look down at the grass, I can see the PORES on the grass petals; that shit is like five feet away at that point! And I can see individual leaves on trees that are all the way on the distant horizon. And a huge problem I had growing up was Mom trying to point out messes I couldn't pick out from the background noise of the texture of the wall; there was so much to see where she pointed that I literally had no idea what she was pointing at. It was like a game of Where's Waldo, but instead of Waldo, it was some bit of mess I literally couldn't see for all the noise around it.

2 = I just checked, and I can even hear some frequencies only kids and teens are supposed to be able to hear. Although some of them, it'd be more accurate to say I can FEEL them. (On a related note, 12K hertz is literal torture. I immediately reacted in pain and covered my ears; couldn't have paused the video to save my life.)

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