I was trying to explain to a good friend of mine what a panic attack feels like. After I set aside the momentary jealousy that resulted from the fact that she's never (to her knowledge) experienced one, I tried to put words to how it feels. And I failed miserably. How do you describe a panic attack?
You know the scene in Star Wars where Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewy are in the trash compactor? It's like that, but have it start filling rapidly with water. And have the music above playing loudly, to the point that it's suffocating.
That's a reasonable description of how my week went this week. I thought it had been since 2011 the last time I had a big panic attack like this, but in looking back through this blog, I find that I had one when I bought the house back in 2013. That one made sense. This one did not. This one came out of the fracking blue and knocked me on my ass.
The ones I can see coming tend to be pretty short-lived. They are situational and my rational brain can wrap around them and hang on to the knowledge that they are simply a reaction to a current stressor. I can usually just ride them out, knowing this too shall pass. But this one...oh, this one kicked my ass. I never saw it coming. I had an inkling but, by the time I realized it was more than just momentary stress, it was on top of me and I was drowning.
I don't take meds (maybe I should?) for any of this, primarily because they are so few and far between. So my coping mechanisms usually involved the following:- prayer
- talking with a few trusted friends- writing
- distraction (reading, watching movies I know will make me laugh and distract me)
NONE of that worked. Well, some of it worked but not enough to completely head things off so I just had to gut it out for the most part. It's mostly past but now I feel like a wrung out wet washcloth. A friend of mine that was kind enough to talk me through some of it said I did a good job of pushing through it. I don't see that - I feel like a big giant mess - but I'll trust his perspective more than mine right now. Thankfully I have a few people in my life that have walked this road themselves and can help me talk through it when it happens. But man, I'm wiped.
I still can't point to any one thing as to why this panic attack happened. The one back in 2013 made sense - I was days away from closing on the house, my husband was overseas and we were planning to join him, we had big life transitions taking place. But this one? Not so much. I know I have a lot on my plate but life has actually slowed down a bit now that I'm not working. I have more free time (maybe that's what contributed? I didn't have a bunch of stuff to keep me busy so I wound up inside my head?) and I'm doing things I love.
Whatever. It's done and I'm almost back on my feet. Hopefully it will be another 3+ years before another one hits me. Wouldn't that be nice?