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Panic Attacks


My heart is hurting. I was in such a great mood this morning, too. Ugh! I felt fine and fabulous and spent last night dancing in my room and listening to awesome music. I had lovely mini chicken tacos with gobs of guacamole for dinner and some hard apple cider, too. It was my first night entirely and completely alone…ever! It was sorta fun. I did some laundry and just chilled.

This morning I get to work expecting maybe a load of work to do, but instead get a shitstorm of BS I didn’t sign up for! My landlord is caring for my roommate’s dog while she’s out of town. Nothing unusual, my roommate does this for her constantly. She’d ask me to watch him at first but then wanted the two dogs to hang out together, they’re pals. Roommate will be home tomorrow evening, last I heard. I get a text from the landlord saying she’s going to drop both dogs off today, mid afternoon. Um…NO! I responded with the facts: I don’t know when I’ll be home. I don’t know where their food is or when or how much to feed them. And that the roommate won’t be back until tomorrow night! Ack! Landlord gives not one flying fuck and insists that the roommate said it was okay. I explained that I don’t want the dogs to go hungry. She says she’ll feed them before dropping them off. UGH! I hate when I’m not being heard! I need to work on setting clear boundaries with people.

So then my brother calls me, I’d text him “Happy Birthday” and he told me that my dad’s wife has forbidden him from calling me anymore…Because of an “argument.” I explained to him that no argument ever occurred. That I hadn’t talked to her in over a year and it’s all news to me. That she or anyone should never get in the way of his communicating with his sisters. He tells me, “Well, you’re my sister, but I think of you as my good friend, too.” *Sobs* Then he says he’s sick of living there and cannot wait to get out. This shocks me because I’ve always offered to help him move as soon as he’s ready and he’s always said no. This is the first time he’s even hinted at wanting to live elsewhere. And my heart breaks because I cannot help him right now. I’m barely getting by on my own and still getting help from my husband…I haven’t even told my family about my separation. I just can’t. Well, that and I don’t think it’s any of their damned business and I don’t wanna hear shit about it and there’s a decent chance we could reconcile eventually. Anyway, we end up talking about other things and I feel better, we both laugh a lot.

Then the internet at work goes down just as I’m responding to an urgent email. Ugh! Plus there is a crew of people cleaning my boss’ house like a swat team of clean! I don’t know why, but that alone caused much anxiety in me and it with the landlord and the brother thing just sent me into a tizzy! When they needed me to leave to clean the office I took a walk and just breathed. Okay, I breathed and text Jeanette! She is my rock! She has been there for me these last few months like no one else. In some ways I realize that this was my choice and that I’ve pushed some people away or kept them at arm’s length due to my emotional state, but I digress. I walk and I breathe and I text. Then they are done and I go back in to try to fix the entire internet of the world! Ha-ha! After much finagling, I get it up again!

Then Jeanette comes to meet me for lunch and we have delicious, soul-healing, creamy mushroom soup from the best Polish place in the bay area! We talk about my horrible morning and she worries about my stress spiraling. She knows me too well. It was all just so overwhelming. I couldn’t even think let alone find my happy place at that time. It was like this cascading wall of bullshit that I just couldn’t deal with all at once. The soup helped. Jeanette helped more. I sometimes feel like a lousy friend to her because I have so much chaos in my life and it’s all I talk about when I know she’s going through some shit, too. But she is just that amazing and gives me time and space and support and encouragement and calls me out on my bullshit and self-delusions when I need to hear it. That is a very special thing to have with someone. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank the universe (though it was actually Marilyn Wann) for connecting us.

I’m feeling calmer now. I’ve taken care of the scary work things I was dealing with. I am breathing normally now. I was very close to a full-blown panic attack. It all happened within a few minutes and I didn’t have a chance to recognize it before starting to panic. If not for Jeanette I have no doubt that I would have really flipped out. Prior to today, Steph was my go-to for panic attack support. I could text or call her and she’d talk me down. I’ve known Steph over twenty years and she gets it, man. Life is fucking hard and sometimes it just likes to test you and pushes you to the brink to make sure you are really living! I AM!!! *Waves* I am doing my best, yo! And I can’t help but think back to my last panic attack.

It was two weeks before Fatty Affair and I’d gotten my dates all screwed up (I do that a lot). I freaked the hell out and was sobbing uncontrollably. My husband didn’t know what to do. He just held me and we lay down in our very dark bedroom. He eventually got up and I sobbed until I passed out; which is pretty much the worst thing for me in that state. When I told a friend later that night about what had happened he said, “But Fatty Affair isn’t for two weeks! It’s okay; you still have time to do all that you wanted.” AH! “Where were you a few hours ago?! Ha-ha!” was my response. I can’t blame my husband for not knowing how to handle my panic attacks. But shit, man, I just needed a damned calendar! Ha! It is a special thing when you meet or know someone who can handle your special brand of crazy. I was grateful to know that this new friend could possibly be counted as one of them.

All of this got me thinking about how vital this support is. How bad it could have been had I not had that. I’ve certainly talked friends down when they were freaking out before. I have no problem with doing it and feel flattered to be trusted so much. To have someone essentially put their life in your hands is a scary responsibility. But if you’ve ever been on the other side, you just know what to do and how it feels and you get it.

Some have been absolutely shocked that I would even have had one let alone several panic attacks. The truth is that I do. I am at a point now where I can recognize triggers, usually, and talk myself down without anyone even noticing. But today wasn’t one of those days. I do have panic attacks. It is a little hard to describe what it feels like, but I can easily equate it to a bad acid trip, minus the psychedelic imagery. Ha! Seriously though, it feels like you are losing control over your life, like things are spinning only they’re not, and then you can’t breathe and your mind starts racing. I usually start sobbing heavily, but not always. In fact the first one I recall I didn’t cry until after. Stress is a bitch, which is the lesson of the day I guess.

Do you have someone you can count on when you’re freaking out? Have you had panic attacks? What do you do to get through them on your own? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences on the subject. Thanks for reading.


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6 Comments to

“Panic Attacks”

  1. On March 16th, 2012 at 5:26 pm Lucy Says:

    I’m glad you’re feeling better! I’ve been having panic attacks for about 4 years, and they’re still terrible. The last job I had, I quit because they happened so often, and it got better but it’s been getting worse lately. I’m honestly jealous reading this- I don’t have any IRL friends, and the few Internet people I’m super close with (emotionally) are… not helpful :/ I mean I know they try, but yeah. So basically I just have myself, and I’m not very good at stopping them-usually I’ll scratch hard at my arms to stave it off, and then run to a private place whenever I have a chance and cry it out. This semester I had quite a few and I would go hide in the bushes, and every time someone passed by it would just make it worse. After I have one I can usually keep it together for a while, but the next day I’m just so emotionally drained I can’t deal with anything.

    Ah, sorry for the long rant! I wanna hear how other people deal as well *stalks comments*

  2. On March 16th, 2012 at 9:43 pm Not Blue at All Says:

    Lucy: *Hugs* I’m so sorry to hear about your panic attacks. Emotionally drained is exactly where I’m at right now. I know i’m just another online friend, but if you ever need to vent, I’m a firm believer, feel free to hit me up!

  3. On March 17th, 2012 at 11:55 am Rachel Says:

    ***HUGS HUGS HUGS**** I am sending you so much love and support right now!
    These days my panic attacks aren’t as bad, but when I do feel them coming on I go somewhere private (usually a bathroom stall :), put my earbuds in, put my sunglasses on and reach out to somebody with a little “I love you” text. And then I breathe deep. Because I may or may not have a self-help book addiction, the book that is really helping me with all this stuff right now is Finding your way in a wild new world, by Martha Beck. It has a lot of really good meditation exercises, and some cool concepts. I keep running into this concept that is apparently commonly held in shamanic cultures-that those who experience a lot of emotional, mental and/or physical pain are often healers-in-training. So our emotional and mental struggles and physical pain would be the equivalent of those intense initiations that you hear about in native cultures. You sometimes see a lot of empathy and compassion in people who have been abused and have come to terms with it. It’s as if we find the calm within the storm, once we’ve been through that damn initiation by fire. These are the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head and your post just seemed to sync up perfectly, sorry for the book:) These concepts are calming to me, for whatever reason, and maybe they’ll be comforting for someone else too.
    Take care of yourself dear, you have a lot of people who love and care about you! ♥

  4. On March 17th, 2012 at 9:31 pm franniez Says:

    I get panic attacks in my bedroom these days because the way it is arranged right now, I can’t see either of the windows from my bed. I have taken to sleeping someplace else in the house most of the time because of this. I guess you’d say they’re claustrophobia-driven panic attacks.

    If I can, I just go outside for a little while, sit down in the back, or walk around the outside of the house. I keep wishing I lived in a busy city, as I used to, so I could walk at any time of the night. As it is, I simply open the door, breathe a few times and shut it.

    I keep promising myself I’ll work on the bedroom so that the bed is right in front of one of the windows. But this would take months of work, literally, so I haven’t started.

    I don’t like talking to people when I panic or get upset. I like to curl myself up in a psychic ball, slowly get over the attack and then come gradually back to myself.

  5. On March 17th, 2012 at 11:44 pm E. Ai B. Says:

    Idk if what I experience is just normal stress or panic attacks (so it’s probably not a panic attack) but when things get dark and I get weepy there are a few things I start setting straight in my thinking- usually how temporary and miniscule whatever it is that is bothering me is (sometimes this is not applicable, such as in the event of a life changer like the death of a loved one or a lost relationship). How life will go on, regardless. How tomorrow will (probably) be a lot better. How time makes things seem less dark. I tend to deal with this stuff more on my own, my thinking is that I know my mind enough to drag myself out of such things. But having people around who love you is a must. And you are very loved and admired. That sounds like a tough day. And I hope you have a string of far better ones.

  6. On March 19th, 2012 at 4:21 am Liz Says:

    I wouldn’t take meds for my panic attacks as I have quite a suspicious attitude towards psychiatric medications, but I do use a natural product called Rescue Remedy (from the Bach’s flower essences range) and I find that helpful – I spray it on my tongue if I’m feeling panicky. I also saw a therapist for a while and she taught me a technique which helps a bit which is about grading the panic attack on a scale of 1 to 10, then trying to carry on as normal and behave as if I’m not having a panic attack, but keep checking in with myself and grading it on the 1 to 10 scale. I’m often worried I’ll pass out or stop breathing if I have an attack so it’s quite helpful to remind myself that has never happened before even though I’ve had as bad/worse panic attacks. I used to get chest pain during my attacks – I don’t any more – so I used to worry I was having a heart attack and a nurse told me that if I was having a heart attack I wouldn’t be able to run upstairs, so I used to go and run up and down the stairs to reassure myself that I could and it wasn’t a heart attack (!) – I don’t even know if she was right but it did reassure me.

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