A March with Anxiety

Woke up sore today. Not sure if it was from the late night, bumping elbows with thousands of people in Los Angeles, or the aftermath of experiencing my first anxiety attack.

I would like to think that I have a higher tolerance for stress. Between riding bikes, the nature of my job answering phones and multi-tasking, I keep a level head through most of the day in and day out. That being said, it has become very clear that we all have our tipping points. I hit mine on Saturday. What seemed like a good idea to be among others who were upset by the recent election results (the same demographic that represents the majority of people who voted for our current president based on gender and race, but that is an unpopular opinion for another day) slowly backfired. I have had a similar experience about five years ago when I attended the Halloween costume party held on Santa Monica blvd in West Hollywood. Being in close proximity to that many people is bad for introverts. I did not have the same reaction as I did this weekend, but it felt similar.

There is an insightful video in which an average man goes into an oxygen deprivation room to understand what fighter pilots must go through in order to determine their hypoxic  tolerance. This is the closest thing I can come to as far as a comparative explanation. Now I didn’t turn blue or lost the ability to recognize and say my name, but I slowly felt the need to escape from a confined space to no avail or reprieve. There was without a doubt an overwhelming amount of people in the streets of downtown Los Angeles. Buses were saturated. Streets were  saturated with people. My emotional tolerance was also saturated.

As a result, I am left conflicted as to whether in my personal experience, this march was worth the levels of stress I encountered. In retrospect, I can sympathize with ‘why’ this event took place. People are shocked and upset that the majority of our country’s population voted a president in office who is able to do serious harm to the people they are chosen to represent. People got together to let off some steam, and encourage others to continue to be good people. I get it; sort of. Despite the popularity and the underlying reasons to why this march became so popular, I was forced to deal with a severe case of anxiety that I have never experienced. I know most people I know and am friends with were there and spirits were raised (if only temporarily) but other than being physically held in a time of need, I am having trouble seeing the positives, if this was the result.

I now know big groups are not my thing. In attempting to rationalize what had happened, I recalled what other setting could resemble something like a big group of people occupying a space. Nightclubs? Not for me for this exact reason. Bike races? Yes, but there is no more than 100 to maybe 200 people at a bike race in southern California. Hospitals? Hospitals can become crowded, but there are opportunities to escape when the mood gets tense. I was stuck on Saturday with no escape and had to deal. I had a good cry and am glad it was through this way and not through a syncopal episode where I would have needed a medical escort from one dense space to another. Next time, I’ll try and anticipate what I am getting myself into the next time I think an event like this is beneficial for a hermit like myself.

until next time….

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