I am so mad! Well kind of, maybe not really. The truth is I am very disappointed. I was seemingly having a great day. The sun is shining, the temperature outside is scorching hot, and I got to work from home. To me those facts alone are the foundation for me to smile all day long. My boss doesn’t need to know that while answering emails and sorting through paperwork that it all happened while I was tending to my herb garden.
I think I was in the direct sun for too long. When I went inside my home I sat under the breeze of my fan and not long later felt a bit too cool. Naturally, I grabbed for a blanket and covered my legs and then thought I would recline on the couch while writing an email. Yup, I fell asleep. Sound asleep I was until I snored so loud I woke up and figured that did not sound cute at all. I dozed back into sleep. I am not sure for how long but I eventually woke up because my bladder was pounding at me for relief. I shot up like I was going to win a marathon and before I could think, I was in full panic attack mode. HUH?! Wait, what? I thought I had to pee? As much as my bladder needed relief, I awoken into a panic attack as well.
No! This was not happening. I kept thinking this really was not going to happen right now. Too late. My mind was spinning with thoughts and my body was reacting to find the quickest and safest way to flee. Part of my brain was already crying, “no no no no no panic attack right now.” There was nothing I could do to calm myself, it was like my panic attack pre-stages occurred while I was sleeping and there was no way to calm down on my own steam.
Panic attack pre-stages – my own personal lingo for what I describe as the build up to full blown panic attack. It is in this pre-stage I have anxiety and I am doing self talk with myself to calm down, that I am safe, and I will be okay. In a pre-stage I can almost deter a panic attack if I start a very focused orientated household chore. Yes, even if it is at 3:00 a.m.
I packed my “to-go” bag and stood outside my home and caught my breath. I continued my numbered breathing pattern as I got myself to what I labelled as my safe spot; the hospital parking lot. I made myself comfortable as possible and telephoned my mom for guided and grounding conversation. It took 10 minutes of that style of talking and I was through the brunt of my panic attack. I hung up the phone with my mom and reassured her if the panic came back I would just go in the hospital. Here I am an hour later my panic attack is over. I usually feel depressed and exhausted but I feel disappointed that it happened at all. Maybe I shouldn’t look at this as a negative experience. I have to go and reflect on this on how there is some positive light to this. I may not come up with anything but I have to try.
To-Go Bag – contains items that bring me comfort and ground me. In it I carry a bottle of pickling spices (the smell reminds me of my Grandmother who was my rock during my most horrific moments in life), my super cozy blanket, lots of water, phone charger and cord, dvd of the Golden Girls, sweet snacks and carb loaded, and other little items that keep my mind busy, calm, and make me laugh. Much like a bag a woman would have ready and packed for when she is set to go to the hospital to give birth.
I am going to give this a whirl. I am having a panic attack right now. I am experiencing a tremendous amount of fear. I am remembering to breathe, in and out, in and out; controlled. I feel like the whole world can hear me breathing. I am panicked. I want to run out of my house and find safety. I am trying to tell myself that I am safe in my house and that I will be okay. Of course my bladder and bowel are now in overdrive and i want them to know I dont have the time to sit and let them relieve themselves. Does bladder and bowel not realize I need to find safety?! I give in; breathing in and out; letting my body give some relief. I am on my couch; play solitare! I cant even think to what moves to make to win a game. I feel like the panic is subsiding. I take that moment and take an even bigger breath. Wow it will end. I get cozy under the blanket thinking I should relax. Oh no. My legs and arms feel like they are getting electric shocks. Its coming again. Breathe. Nope this one is going to be a dozey. And like that I am in a total state of fear; I am not safe. I must get out of my house. I am standing on my doorstep and the wind is strong. Ground myself, feel the wind, feel how cool it is on my face. I tell myself I am okay and I know how to keep myself safe. I do. I am a smart person, I know I can keep myself safe. I go back inside. I keep up my breathing; in and out. I am sitting on the couch again and as soon as I sit I am in a state of fear once more. That’s it I am leaving my house! I am going to go where I am safe. I am going to drive myself to my parents house. My safety and security is there with them. I get in my car; controlled breathing. I am sure the other drivers can hear my breathing. I play a grounding game with myself; name five red things, name five blue things and on and on with different colours. Its helping. I am okay. It hits me again, I will not make the 30 minute drive to my parents; I am feeling fear again. That’s it am going to the hospital. I have no traffic, the drive is effortless. I park in the hospital parking lot; I know there isn’t much they can do for me here. But I feel better knowing there is safety in here for me. I challenge myself to stay in the car. Nope my bladder and bowels need relief again. I as I am walking into the hospital I feel a small amount of fear and a lot of shame. My bladder and bowels thank me. I go back to my car and I am having what I call small waves of fear rolling in and out of me. I do the “call of shame.” I dial my mom. She answers and all I can do is take a deep breath and she immediately knows its me and I am having a panic attack. She instantly says “you are going to be okay..” I in turn start crying. She knows what she has to do is to distract me and she does, I answer her robotically and eventually in 15 minutes of distraction I can hold a bland conversation with her. It feels like we have made it through the rough part but then her mini yorkie and seven month old husky pup are barking like the house is under seige and they must alert the world. My mom apologizes for the dogs and curses them for breaking my calm breakthrough. My bladder and bowel need relief. I tell my mom I have to go in the hosiptal and use the washroom and I will call her back. After returning from the washroom and opening my car door to once again seek refuge behind my tinted car windows; I see a shiny unopened can of club soda. The can is so cold from the overnight temperatures. This is probably one of the best things of my day. Why? Because my panic attack gives me dry mouth; I call it desert mouth because it’s so unaturally dry. I call my mom back so she can feel relief that I am still okay. I tell her I am feeling like “its” passing and I will call her in an hour. She knows this does mean I will be okay. I am still sitting in my car at the hospital, i feel okay, i feel secure, i feel safe. I think my panic attack is over. Time check – 2.25 hrs of panic. My breathing is relaxed and I feel so good drinking the cold club soda.
Why did this panic attack happen? A series of events led up to this. About four days ago I was talking with a friend on the street when my ex boyfriend who was a passenger in a vehicle happen to slow down near me. He and I spotted each other and he looked at me and laughed. My ex was emotionally and physically violent with me when we were dating. I had some great friends save my life and hid me for a few months until I could relocate to another town. It took years and years of therapy to have me in a much better place.
So his laughing at me played on my mind a lot. I was angry. I had a variety of emotions. I still need to talk them out with someone.
Last night I wanted to watch the season finale of, “Bloodline.” But I could hardly get through most of it. Lots of violent innuendo and fear based storylines. It was making me feel unsafe. I turned it off and realized its just not the right time for me to see this show end.
After I turned Bloodline off, I turned on the Sex and The City movie for some easy storylines. I was feeling a bit more relaxed. Then it happened. I swore I heard a gun shot. And then it happened again and again. I realized the USA was celebrating Memorial Day with some fireworks. Lots of time would pass between each round of fireworks or firecrackers. But I recognized my body was getting scared because sometimes those sounds reminded me of someone knocking on my door. For instance when my ex would knock on my bedroom window at 3 am because he wanted to make sure I was alone or he needed to pass out; either of which came with violent expletives.
So there I have it. An accumulation of events over days triggering me into a state of fear.
I feel like I can drive back to my home now because it is safe. And I really am okay.
My living room looks just as cozy as this one. My absolute heaven when I need self care.