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