I caught a fleeting glimpse
Out of the corner of my eye
I turned to look but it was gone
I cannot put my finger on it now
The child is grown
The dream is gone
I can remember my first panic attack in first grade. My mom had taken me to school and dropped me off and by the time first recess rolled around, I was a mess. I couldn't breathe. I felt scared and anxious all at once. I felt like I was going to fall through the ground into an undersea ocean with the ground closing up around and above me as I drowned. So I went to the school nurse and told her I felt sick. She called my mom and my mom came and brought me home where I felt safe.
I never explained any of this to my parents - I couldn't. I didn't have the vocabulary to do so. My panic attacks were infrequent and I could never discern a pattern or a trigger. And I assumed that everyone dealt with them in some form or another so I saw no need to say anything. I learned coping mechanisms for when they did hit and pretty much forgot about them in between.
When I was in my early 30s, I remember listening to either my sister-in-law or a friend describe what a panic attack feels like and it was like a light switch was flipped. So THAT was what I had been dealing with off and on all my life! Panic attacks. It was weird to put a name to something that had been nameless for so long.
They are still pretty infrequent. Most of the time, I can anticipate them - they are usually a result of too many stressors in my life. For instance, the one that nailed me in 2013 was as I was buying my house...by myself. MacGyver was in Korea and I was doing the single parent thing, buying a house, scheduling a move across town, and scheduling a move from Kansas to Korea. It made sense. The one that nailed me last week came out of nowhere.
People keep telling me I have a lot on my plate and that's somewhat true, but not really. I stopped working at the end of July. I'm going to school full time but my classes are only a few days per week. The material is somewhat review. Swim season hasn't yet really started back full swing. I'm loving my work with Team Rubicon. I have wonderful people surrounding me. My family is good. It made no sense. And it's those panic attacks - the ones that sneak up on me and make no sense - that really do me in. I can still feel the effects of this one. I'm still shaky. I can feel that if I isolate myself (as is my want) I will slip right back into it. The ones with no discernible cause are the ones that scare me. How do you defend against something like that?
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