Friday, November 23, 2007

Where did this come from?

I wasn't going to write about this but reading about other peoples experiences always helps me, so I thought I would share. On yesterday I went for a morning walk. I took my ipod an set out. It was a really nice fall day. The sun was shining, it was cool but not cold. There where not many people out. I saw just a few cars on the road.

During my walk I decided to go by a market an get a pumpkin pie. When I arrived at the market I was a little surprised to see so many people shopping. But I went in anyway. I knew where the pies where so I went and grabbed one and made a bee-line to the checkout. Fortunately there was a short line available. I paid for the pie and I was out the door.

On the way back home still everything was nice. I was listening to my ipod and then it happened.

I had a panic attack. Here is a little background. I've been having panic attacks since I was 15 years old. I vividly remember the first one I ever had. They started after my grandfather died. His death was totally unexpected. Also I had not at that point in my life lost a close family member before that. So it really sent me for a loop. There was a bunch of other stuff going on too. But the other things where just typical teenage angst kind of things. Since that time I've dealt with continued panic attacks. Later I added agoraphobia to my repertoire, but that's another can of worms I won't go into now.

Anyway back to yesterday's panic attack.

It came out of no where. I didn't remember feeling any particular stress about anything. Just bam! All the typical symptoms where present; quick breathing, racing heart and worst of all I was shaking, really badly. I crossed the street to avoid a group of people who where standing outside the local IHOP. At this point I was only about 5 blocks from home

Those 5 blocks though seemed like 25 blocks. My legs where getting really shaky, I thought about trying to sit down but I just wanted to get home, to safety. Even though I have been through this many, many times before it was really upsetting. I even started to cry. That only made it worse.

So I'm not only having great difficulty 'keeping it in the road' as they say, but I'm crying and trying not to drop my pie. The blocks just kept getting longer and longer. Then I started to get dizzy and more panicked. At that point I knew I had to pull myself together and do it fast.

I stopped walking, took deep breathes and reminded myself that this was only a panic attack. That I wasn't going to pass out, no one was even noticing what was going on with me and that I was just a few blocks from home sweet home.

That helped, the panic subsided some-what, but not totally. I continued to walk and a few minutes later I was only one block from home. That was the longest darn block I've ever seen. It seemed as though every step I took was moving me backwards instead of forward. At some point I almost dropped my pie.

My legs where so shaky. Once again I reminded myself that this wasn't real. That my mind was playing this trick on me and that I was okay but most of all I wasn't going to pass out.

Passing out during a panic attack is my greatest fear, even though it's never happened. But the fear of it increases my anxiety during panic attacks and makes them worse. It's the fear of being unsafe and not having control.

Finally those last few steps to my front door! I made it! My hands where shaking so badly it took 2 or 3 tries to get the key in the lock. Once inside I put my pie down and just collapsed onto the sofa.

I'm not sure what brought this on. I've been trying to figure it out. The only thing I can think of is, despite the fact that I seem to myself to be totally okay with not spending holiday time with family, maybe that was bothering me. I think the act of trying not to seem stressed about spending another holiday without family stressed me out.

Anyway after about 10 minutes on the sofa I was okay, except I started to cry again. Not boo-hoo crying, just quiet 'I'm sick of this' kind of tears. I went on to have a decent day. A friend came by later. She was having a great day so I didn't bring up my panic attack. We talked and ate pie, which was pretty good for store bought by the way.

After she left I just relaxed. On reflection I was a little disappointed in myself for not getting the panic attack under control more quickly. I figure that a panic attack expert like me should have it down pat at this point.

I'm sure there will be many more panic attacks. And in most cases I won't be home when they occur. So I just have to do what I've always done, handle them.

Anyway I'm fine now. I'm off work. I have a couple of movies I'm going to watch, a few phone calls to make and the chore of figuring out what's for dinner. In other words it's just another day.


Photo Attribution: The Simple Heart

11 comments:

Tami said...

MDC,

I feel for you. I struggled with panic attacks in college and since then have continued to deal with generalized anxiety disorder. It sucks. For me, it has helped to know what generalized anxiety is and to educate myself about its symptoms. It allows me to talk myself down a little when my brain gets caught in an obsessive loop.

Take a deep breath and enjoy today.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Tami,

Thanks, I'm fine today. I have also done a lot of educating myself. In the very beggining finding information about anxiety disorders was a godsend. Once I realized what was happening it helped a lot.

Panic attacks are just so much like earthquakes. You just never know when they are going to happen or how bad they are gonna be.

Thanks

Shelly said...

Whoah, MDC, that sounded intense.

I have experienced similar attacks but only very very mildly and only a handful of times... Sounds like you handled it very well though.

Take care of yourself and rest well ok. Sending you lots of love & support :-))

Shelly said...

Also, I forgot to ask: who is the woman in the picture attached to this post?

Lisa said...

Wow. How brave you are! I would've called everyone I knew had I had such an experience. You should write about this - not just a blog post, but a book. Your description of the experience elicited tremendous empathy from me-a person who has no clue -
Thanks for sharinr. Your tanslucence was enthralling. . .

Mes Deux Cents said...

Hi Shelly,

I don't know who the woman in the pic is. I found the picture online and thought it was interesting.

Thanks for your concern, I'm doing fine now. Yesterday was a bit intense though.

Anyway I'm going to try to enjoy today and the rest of the weekend.

Thanks

Mes Deux Cents said...

Lisa,

Believe me there was a time when I did call people. At this point I've just become accustomed to dealing with it myself.

Maybe at some point I will write about it. I don't see alot of points of view about Black people and this type of thing. The only thing that stands out was on the series Soulfood with Terri's anxiety attacks.

Thanks

Lisa said...

Of course, now, if you don't feel like writing about it, we could always make the movie version. I think you already know that I will happily play you as long as my love interest gets to be. . . say it with me. . . Lamman Rucker!!! :)
Otherwise, I'll just be a contributing editor.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Lisa,

(lol) Okay you can play me but if Lamman isn't available I here Bobby Brown is.(lmao)

Ehav Ever said...

Hey MDC,

That was very brave of you to share this. I once had something similar to what you described in 2004 before I went to Israel to figure out what going wrong in my life. I was at work and my manager said some really hurtful things blaming me for something that was later found not to be my fault. I was sitting in the lab doing some work and my heart started to beat really fast. I began to sweat, I began to shake, and I became very aggressive, then all of a sudden it felt like my heart had stopped.

After that point what I put into practice was to have songs that I listen to that have a calming affect on me when things are going bad. I also have several movies that serve as reminders of where I want to be mentally.

I also exercise when I get those kind of feelings. I do my best work outs during those times.

Mes Deux Cents said...

Ehav,

Sounds like you had a situational panic attack.

And you have identified ways to calm yourself, that's good. I over the years have tried to find ways to help during them.

I decided to write about it because in the media you rarely read about anxiety disorder with regard to Black people. As if we are immune to such things.

Thanks

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About Me

West Coast, United States
African American, Poet?, Vegetarian, Music lover, Agoraphobic, Social Phobic

My Favorite Poet

My Favorite Poet
Staceyann Chin

My Favorite Track Athlete

My Favorite Track Athlete
Christine Arron