I woke up in my uncle’s house feeling the buzzing of my cellphone at 6:36 a.m. It’s Tim – my friend from Hamburg. He invited me with his group to come down to Munich and enjoy the Oktoberfest celebrations. I begin to remember moments of last night, drinking great beer with my fellow Germans and I began laughing out loud (yes, by myself) at the funny memories we enjoyed.
I looked down and realize that I’m still wearing my Lederhosen and that there are a bunch of Tigers Milk protein bar wrappers all over the floor. Probably my forgotten late night snacks. I walked over to the bathroom to brush my teeth and that’s when shit hit the fan.
I looked in the mirror at my pale skin and weak body and I felt so confused. I tried hard to remember what happened yesterday, especially last night, and I kept remembering up until one point where my memory just blacked out.
When I checked my pockets, I realized my wallet was missing. Did I get mugged, drugged, beaten, assaulted, molested, injected with something? These were the thoughts that were going through my mind with a new, unfamiliar and terrified feeling sinking in my body. I closely examined my body for any bruises, cuts and damage. I didn’t find anything, however my body was shaking and I still felt terrified…and I couldn’t find out why.
My uncle called me to go eat breakfast and I hardly had the strength to lift the fork without jittering. I started to feel an uncomfortable sensation of heat rise in my stomach like I’ve never felt before, a lump of constriction in my throat, numbness and tingling across different areas of my body, nerve twitches in my right foot and my left eye, and a feeling like I wanted to puke and couldn’t (a different sensation than wanting to puke from drinking too much alcohol).
Ultimately, I felt like something was very, very wrong and like there was no way out and like I had no idea what it was. And in that, I felt completely helpless.
I told my uncle what was going on and he escorted me to a nearby hospital. The first wasn’t helpful and didn’t have a diagnosis for any of the symptoms I was experiencing. This started to freak me out even more. I went to another hospital and they wanted to charge me more than 1,000 Euros to run basic tests on me with a consultation.
I gave up on the hospitals and went home. I went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and that’s when it really hit me – I felt like I lost my sense of self, like what psychologists call an identity crisis, and that freaked me out.
I was hoping this uncanny feeling of fear would go away after that day, and that I could continue on with the Oktoberfest festivities joyfully and continue on with my round the world journey. Unfortunately, I found myself living the next 15 months of my life living in a state of constant anxiety.
For the first three months, I was in a state of anxiety almost 24/7. I’d feel anxious and afraid for no real reason and I felt stuck that way, like there was no way out and like there was danger always around. Danger to what? I didn’t even know.