When Panic Attacks

Things have been piling up a little of late.  First we moved to another area, which had all the usual ups and downs (great view in the new place, but sad to lose the old place and be financially screwed for life).  Then, less than a week after we moved, I was approached by management of the complex – someone had made a complaint about my smoking.  I didn’t have to quit, but if I could watch the breeze and try not to smoke when it’s overly windy, that would be great.  Not a problem I said, I hate it anyway, I’ll quit and try to find a medication that works just as well as nicotine.

Well, that didn’t go too well.  I’m allergic to patches and gum (and now afraid to even try spray), and after a month of no nicotine, my body finally had enough and started making a few complaints of its own.  Over the years we have already tried to usual pears/prunes/Movicol type stuff, so this time I went straight for the laxatives.  That didn’t work too well either.  So we know that we are “allowed” to smoke (given so many others do without problem, and the fact that it is written in the bylaws that we are allowed to smoke on our balconies), and we know that we weren’t asked to stop, but just take care, so I did take care and I started smoking again – but trying to keep it down to about five a day instead of eight and see how that goes.

The kids went back to school, and we had all sorts of drama’s there, resulting in quite a few tears – mostly mine, but some from the kids too.  We had a change of classes and after some time, the panic subsided and I felt sorta kinda comfortable with showing my face at the school again…

Then on Monday (it is now Friday), I got an email from our real estate agent.  Here it is…

Good afternoon,

Would you please ask your tenants to cease smoking on their balcony as it annoys neighbouring units. We have asked the tenants to refrain and so have other tenants.  Linda claims the nicotine counteracts her medication.  If this is the case, perhaps a unit complex is not the most appropriate place to live, especially with the possibility of legislation banning smoking on balconies.   They seem to be very nocturnal and the smoking occurs at early hours of the morning (3am –  4am) which wafts straight into bedrooms of other units.    Under Clause 21, Section 2c, the tenants are interfering with the comfort of neighbours.   Please address.



Well, hasn’t that set off my inner peace quite nicely.  First of all, no one has ever asked me to stop.  Period.  I have never spoken to any neighbours – not about this or anything else (nor has my husband).  Sue, nor anyone else from management, has never asked me to stop.  In fact, she was quite clear that I didn’t have to!

Where we live is none of her concern, but just so everyone knows – we chose a unit because we can’t take care of a house properly.  I’m in a wheelchair!  And after taking care of myself and our kids, my husband is just too zonked (and also has his own health problems).  If they bring in legislation, then we will deal with that then.  Until then, so long as WE keep getting smoke drifting in OUR door every day (not that I care – just noting the hypocrisy), I don’t see why I am not allowed to make a little of my own.

And who the fuck cares when it happens?  Though – we are never up at that time of the morning.  Mainly because we have two kids going to school and need to be up to get them ready.  So either they are lying deliberately to make a point, they have seen the light on that we leave on for our cats to find the litter and made a bunch of assumptions, or the smoke that is pissing them off isn’t. even. mine.

Adding to all this drama where there doesn’t need to be any (for if any neighbour had come over and talked to me, I would have either worked out a timetable with them, or given up and started smoking outside the premises all together), there is the fact that while we have had lies spread to our real estate agent (and whoever was CC’d) about us for breaking rules that don’t exist in a situation that doesn’t exist (that is, not stopping when asked to), our neighbours break ACTUAL rules, and a blind eye is turned.

So… that is the situation.  Here is how I am dealing with it…

I am not.  Not at all really.  I started crying on Monday and haven’t really stopped.  I haven’t really eaten either.  I have had a few crackers, but only after I’ve had enough alcohol to settle my stomach.  Considering I normally only drink one or two glasses at Christmas, this new “two drinks a day” me is not something I am really liking.  My heart keeps racing, and I’m so tense, my muscles just – hurt!!!  I can’t breathe properly.  It’s been four full days in four hours, since I got the email.  I’m scared to leave my unit in case I accidentally break another rule that doesn’t exist.  I’m scared we are going to get kicked out, because I am scared the real estate agent believes them and not me.  I want to run away, but I have no money to do so.

Seriously, if I had the money, I would pack up the place and move right now!!!

I can’t talk without crying.  I can’t watch television because my mind keeps wandering to this crap.  I can’t breathe when I open up my email again, in case there is another one there…

I know the tenants before us got kicked for noise (or left voluntarily because of shitty complaining neighbours).  I understand that some people shouldn’t live in units because they can’t deal with other people (oh the irony of that statement in the email lol).  I understand that either management is friends with the neighbour, or too gutless to say something along the lines of “they have every right, so shut your window or talk to them yourself”.  I understand that management lied their arses off and made judgments they had no right to make and that this makes them arseholes in their own right.  I get that I have done nothing wrong (at best, I was impolite to start up again, but seriously, after the first, and only, conversation I had about it, I thought it was more of an annoyance to them, than a big fucking deal of enough proportion it was worth going through all this fucking drama – if they had only knocked on the door so we could have talked about it before all this shit…).

I also understand I should just knock on the door of management and say “what the hell?” and I should knock on the door of the neighbours, grit my teeth, and politely let them know there will be no more smoking from this here apartment.  I’m too scared to do either of those things.  I’m too scared to do anything.

Fuck it, I’m too scared to even have my balcony door and blinds open any more.  I’m scared to swim in the pool we are paying rent for.  I’m too scared to use my scooter in case the reverse beep (which is rather loud) annoys someone, or it accidentally swipes a wall or corner or something (which we would obviously be happy to fix ourselves, but I somehow don’t think that management would be content with anything less than our heads on a stick).  My son won’t be able to practice music at home (ok, that was a given anyway lol, but now I am even scared to let him practice with a muffler attached, just in case).  I have cancelled friends coming over in case they are too loud or otherwise “interfere” with the neighbours “comfort”.  I’m scared to talk in my unit in case they are listening (and judging over coffee with management).  I’m scared of doing anything that makes this whole thing worse than it already is.  We had maintenance come in yesterday for a while and it was all I could do to smile and hold on for that short a time.  I needed a sleep afterwards!!!

I am seeing a GP (doctor) this afternoon, to see if there is something I can take to stop the fight/flight/etc response I am having.  Obviously I am over reacting to two dickheads.  Unfortunately, the reaction is physical and not intellectual, so no amount of talking/analysing/rethinking/etc is going to help.  As soon as the initial thoughts hit (what if they complain about me again?), a more sensible one tries to hit it back (do you really care what they think of you?  After the way they have both behaved, you have zero respect for either).  Sadly, my body doesn’t listen though and I’m still using all my energy not to kill myself just to make it stop!

Disability consumer and activist. Pissed off since 1995... Mad as a hatter since way before that.

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Posted in Autism, Disability, Mental Health, Personal
2 comments on “When Panic Attacks
  1. Hi Linda! I have a quick question and was wondering if you could email me when you have a free moment. Thanks! Looking forward to hearing from you soon. 🙂 hvsj12 at gmail dot com

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Pissed off since 1995. Mad as a hatter since way before that.

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