I Hate Panic Attacks!
I really dislike the word HATE but I don’t know how else to describe my feelings towards panic attacks. They pop up, uninvited, and can literally knock you down. In fact, last evening, a panic attack sucker punched me so hard while I was out to eat with my family that I had to get up and leave.
Panic Attacks are Very Convincing
We were spending a much needed relaxing week in our favorite vacation spot, Grand Rapids, Minnesota. It was dinner time so we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant, mainly because we all felt too tired to go anywhere else. The waitress came and took our order. I was looking forward to their famous popovers they serve as their appetizer.
Maybe I’m Having a Stroke
While waiting, I noticed I was feeling a little short of breath. I told myself it was just because I was a little anxious and I tried to convince myself to relax. My back was aching, which didn’t surprise me since I had been sleeping on a pull-out sofa in the hotel room. The mattress was so old that it felt like laying on metal bars. The ache in my back was moving to my right shoulder and then slowly down my arm. As I was trying to join in on the conversation, I kept getting interrupted by the obsessive thoughts in my head. I was asking myself “Why would my arm be aching?”, “Is it my heart?”, “Am I having a heart attack?”, “Maybe I’m having a stroke because it just feels funny on one side of my body”. At that time, I felt my heart palpitate. Now I knew something bad was going on and panic set in.
I Got Up and Went in the Restroom
As I was panicking inside, I looked at my mom. She was laughing and having fun with the rest of the family. I decided to take a xanax in case it was only my anxiety making me feel this way. Finally the popovers came. I raised my right arm to grab the bread out of the basket. My arm felt funny as I reached over to grasp the popover. It even felt hard to grasp it. My daughter was asking me to put butter and jam on hers. I was trying to contemplate if I was going to speak up and tell everyone that I thought I was having a stroke. Instead, I told my daughter to have her brother help her. I sat there for a minute and I was moving my fingers around to make sure I could still use them.Since I had no problems doing that, I decided to butter my popover. As I picked up my knife, it felt very peculiar. The knife felt extra heavy. At that point, I looked at my mom and said “Can you come with me please?”. I got up and went in the restroom.
Crying Took a Huge Amount of Weight Off
Mom knows my history of anxiety and panic disorder. I started bawling and told her I was super nervous and was either having a panic attack or a stroke. I told her I might have to go to the ER. She looked at me and said I was fine and that it was just my anxiety. My mom also has anxiety so I trusted her. Crying took a huge amount of weight off of my back and it was starting to feel better. I told her to go back and I would be out in a minute. I asked her to tell the rest of the family not to ask me about why I left.’
I Was Fine the Rest Of the Evening
Crying and the xanax was making me feel more normal and I believed my mom when she told me I was not having a stroke. I took one more xanax to knock the remaining anxiety out. I went back, ate my dinner, and was fine the rest of the evening.
I Thanked God I Was Okay
After dinner we all went fishing off the dock in town. The water was so still and it was very peaceful. I was able to enjoy the scenery and I thanked God I was okay.
I Am Still Vulnerable
That was just a reminder that I am still vulnerable. I have not been “cured” of my mental illness and my medication does not heal me 100%. That panic attack proved to me that talking openly about mental illness and trying to help others with similar experiences is what I am meant to do. When I need help, I look for people who are empathetic to my situation. Some people are not as fortunate as me to have a support person that understands exactly how I feel.
I Want to Help You
I strongly believe in “pay it forward” and that is what I am doing. I want to help you. If you have questions about symptoms, techniques to get through stressful situations, or just need to talk to someone who truly understands, CONTACT ME!