It started at dinner. From the outside it looked like a quaint little place. The reviews online were good. It was an older restaurant with neighborhood charm. One of those restaurants where everyone scribbles their names on the wall. The white walls were covered in an array of colored signatures.
The family next to us had at least ten people in their party. They were loud. The kids were out of control and unfortunately the adults were just as bad. The adults were in their own world spilling wine and dropping bread, while everyone else in the restaurant was unable to find peace in their evening dinner. Our tiny table for two was crammed in the corner right next to the large family. Their laughs and the screams kept coming, gaining volume by the minute. The little girls started playing a hand clapping game. The faster the hands clapped together, the faster I felt my lungs collapsing in. It was happening. The anxiety had set in and I was in panic mode. Too many people in a small area and WAY too much noise.
The white walls covered in a vomit of colored scribbles began to represent my mind. I couldn't make sense of anything. Too much going on at once. I couldn't focus on the conversation Jake & I were trying to have. As my mind turned to mush, I began to shut down. Our food couldn't come fast enough and we kept thinking they would leave, but of course they weren't in any rush. My breath was short, my mind was blank, and my heart was heavy, but there was nothing I could do about it. Stuck in the corner table waiting for our food. Our two hour dinner felt like a solid four.
I was able to semi-hold it together through the end of the meal. It wasn't until we stepped outside that it was full on panic mode. Although the noise of the family was gone, the chaos of central Rome was just as loud and we had a fifteen minute walk home. That's when the tears started falling. Discomfort for hours and I just couldn't take it anymore. For people who don't have anxiety, it's hard to understand, but this kind of discomfort is toxic. I can't explain it. It can physically take over your body and drains you of all energy and consciousness. When we finally made it home I was exhausted. Even hours after our dinner I still felt life-less. The panic attack had taken all the energy from me. So I drank a glass of wine and headed to bed, hoping the next day would bring peace.
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