Diary of a Panic Attack Pt. 1

Sup, kiddos.

I used to suffer from the occasional panic attack episodes (meaning 1-4 over the span of 2-3 days) every year, year and half growing up. I didn’t know what they were, nor did my parents ever really see fit to have it looked into. It’s not their fault; I couldn’t really explain what was happening, or why, and even when we went to the doctor about it, at that point in the time (late-’80s, early ’90s), panic attacks weren’t really understood.

Flash forward to high school and college, and nothing ever really came of them. I did have “one” in college, though, that was far more to do with having a bad mushroom trip than anything else. I had another series after doing a graduate paper on the Rwandan genocide. I’m still unnerved by some of that stuff.

When I was working with my brother-in-law, while wifey was at Penn, I probably had small episode once every, I dunno, six weeks, two months? Nothing major, just couldn’t “switch off,” and get to sleep, so I’d get myself riled up about not being to sleep, and everything I’m going to have to do while not getting any sleep, and it just fed into itself. Normally, I’d either drink myself to sleep, or pop one of wifey’s lorezapams. I know, very healthy and responsible. It worked though; I’d get to sleep.

PLEASE NOTE: Never mix booze and benzos. That’s a dangerous street, and one where an ex-girlfriend of one of my best friends, died from. It’s either one, or the other with WCS on any given night.

I’ve been dealing with one hell of a head cold since last Tuesday. At first, I thought it was allergies, even though I’m not really allergic to much. The pollen here has reach historically bad levels, so I figured with <i>that</i> much in the air, everyone’s bound to get hit (PHRASING BOOM!). I treated this ailment with antihistamines, with various levels of success. However, at least twice a night, every night, I’d wake myself up, gasping for air. I don’t know why, outside of sinus drainage in the back of my throat, cutting off air. These episodes are either utterly terrifying, or absolutely nothing if you don’t remember them. I guess I woke up wifey at least once this past week in the throes of one, though I do not recall this. What’s more, during this illness, sometimes when I’m <i>just</i> on the brink of sleep, I’ll have to cough, which wakes me right back up. This cycle can repeat itself for hours.

Let’s move to this past Saturday morning, circa 07:30. Wifey is working her first weekend since the stitch operation to keep kid inside, because her colleagues didn’t want her to overextend herself (giggity). I woke myself up with yet another gasping-for-air episodes, and normally, can roll over to see her, just to calm myself. Not today, WCS. Now, normally, this would mildly annoy me, as I could go back to sleep almost instantly. Well, that didn’t happen. What followed was an increasingly manic few hours, where my brain kept trying to find ways to make me excited or nervous about any one given thing. I took the dog out, gave her meds, so take that off the list. I watered the plants, and made sure the cats’ were fed. At this point, I can sense another attack is set. Normally, I’d have one of wifey’s pills to take care of this, ride it out for an hour, and then sleep for another four. Boom. Done.

Like I said, she wasn’t home, and my personal supply was gone. Well, at that point, I knew I was fucked. Buy the ticket, take the ride, as Hunter Thompson put it. What followed was three-and-half hours of frenzied pacing, cold-sweats, nausea, and hyperventilating. I finally caved, and called wifey at work, and she thankfully answered. Apparently, her first weekend back was a real dud, and there wasn’t much to do. She helped calm me down, and we chatted for over an hour. At some point, she had to check a patient, and said she’ll call back. I laid on the couch, and tried to watch Parks and Rec on Netflix. I <i>almost</i> dozed off twice, but, both times, that damned cough woke me up again.

Wifey calls back, we talk for a while. She suggests I shower, and get ready for another day. I agree. Look, I’m not stranger to being up all night, but, I’d prefer them to be on my terms, or at the very least, not after having to waste <i>so</i> much energy and vitality on a friggin’ panic attack. Staying up for a dog, sure. Staying up for a sick kid, absolutely. Staying up because your buddy won $10,000 playing slots? O U NOE WCS GON DRANK TIL NEXT WEEK. But, after a panic attack? You’re supposed to get some sleep after. Nope, not my stupid can’t-shut-off-dipshit-brain. Hell, I’m still wired, and still feeling it talking to her.

I actually settled down quite nicely during the Pens-Rangers game. In fact, I was dozing off in the rocking chair, until the older cat jumped onto my lap (of course.) Things were good, actually, quite good the rest of the day. Wifey and I went out to dinner, and to Babies ‘R Us to check on a car seat my aunt said had been recalled (it wasn’t). Everything was good, for a while. When we got back, I felt that tinge again, the signal that the next five or six hours are gonna suck HARD. No rhyme, no reason. Bend over, and take it bitch, we’re in control now.

I actually felt I did an okay job keeping it together. Popping the last (yes, the last) Ativan helped. Wifey humored me, we watched TV, and laid down, while she set up some aromatherapy thing. I chattering nothing but crap, while simultaneously sweating and shivering from being cold. She laid with me the whole time, holding my hand, rubbing my back. She never complained, never yelled, never acted annoyed. (To be fair, she experiences these episodes, too, so we both have experience dealing with the other.)

At some point, I did fall asleep. Yes, I did wake up three times (at least) gasping for air due to this wonderful infection. However, I had no trouble whatsoever falling back to sleep. Woke up, feeling good; yesterday was over with. Felt that way for hours, until I got in the shower, and suddenly, the brain decided to betray me again, and plant the shitty seed in itself. I say seed for a reason.

The rest of the day went fine. We eat dinner at my parents’, watched baseball, and hockey. Just as we sat down for Fear the Walking Dead (yeah, maybe I deserve all this for watching this show), the feeling started back up. Again, to paraphrase Hunter Thompson, “like the first rising vibes of an acid frenzy.” I found myself in the laundry room, switching the towels over, and practically hyperventilating. For no reason. NO REASON. I’m getting worked up because I feel like I’m worked up. Wifey’s baking a cake in the kitchen, and asks what’s wrong. I say that it feels like it’s starting again.

Over the next couple of hours, she finishes her cake (birthday present for a coworker), we watch the season premier of Veep, and just discuss what the piss is wrong with me. She’s a nurse practitioner; she says I should probably talk to somebody about this. Even though these episodes are very rare, when the hit, they’re like earthquakes. You have smaller ones leading up to the catastrophic, and sometimes there are aftershocks.

I’m sharing this with you, Commentist Party, because I realized tonight that sometimes the worst feeling in human existence is being alone. I normally thrive on being by myself. By an large, I enjoy being alone; I always have. It’s just who I am. But, I finally puzzled it together this weekend; sometimes, I simply dread the thought of being alone. Waking up choking and terrified early Saturday set in motion the series of events. I was having another, albeit much smaller episode, earlier tonight, because I was scared of wifey going to sleep (and then work), leaving me alone again. Sometimes, you just need someone there; if nothing else, to let you know you are not alone.

It’s freeing really; I spent countless nights laying in bed as a kid, after my parents had gone to sleep, thinking I was the only person awake on the planet. Part of the reason I wanted to join the Air Force was just to experience the 25/8 lifestyle. I can’t say I enjoyed it, but, as lonely as I had felt at any given time as a kid, Uncle Sam demonstrated there are others out there. A joke we always told was to think about how many people where we’re from are still awake, how many are having sex, and how many are doing drugs. How many are doing both? Brevity.

Brevity.

It’s been a wild and strange weekend for me. I just hope I can sleep relatively alright tonight, without waking up, gasping for air more than twice. I feel as though I have this infection on the run. I’m going to talk to my primary care provider, and explain what’s been happening. Maybe I need a shrink, maybe all of this has just been a collective reaction from the events of February up until now, reaching the multiplier in a some 1994 Sega Genesis game for point value.

This has been fairly cleansing. I actually do feel better for getting this all out. I’ll admit, I couldn’t have tried to piece this all together Saturday. Thanks for you’re patience.

tl;dr woke coughing cuz i couldn’t breathe freekd out again

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JustStopDudeUnsurprisedSenor WeaseloblaxabbathBeerguyrob Recent comment authors
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JustStopDude
JustStopDude

I’ve managed to have something like over 50 surgeries in my life. I’ve broken more bones than people can mention.

By far the thing I hate most is panic attacks. The irrational fear you can’t beat back with logic. I would rather break my pelvis again.

I spent years beating it back with booze and drugs until they failed me and I was sobbing in front of a bunch of millwrights because I couldn’t remember an AC fuse rating.

Therapy is the shit…

theeWeeBabySeamus
theeWeeBabySeamus

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theeWeeBabySeamus
theeWeeBabySeamus
theeWeeBabySeamus

And community involvement is always great for self-esteem.
http://49.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lc616zAhdF1qe0qyho1_500.gif

Unsurprised
Unsurprised

So that’s what Joey Crawford is doing in his retirement.

Beerguyrob

On a serious note, this is just as engaging and relevant as Ape’s piece, in regards to being a helpful insight into showing others they are not alone. A brave person says what you’ve shared; a smart person learns from it. Well done.

monty this seems strange to me

Hey WCS, I’m not sure but I think Beerguyrob just called you dumb.

Beerguyrob

BASTARD!

Brocky

Glad to see you pulled through WCS.

And holy hell deflate gate is back on

jjfozz

Patriots sub on Reddit is in first stages of Three Mile Island Meltdown

jjfozz

One choice comment: “I’m getting on the bus to new York in two hours. I’ll be outside HQ in three. Fuck this asshole.”

NAWT FAIR

jjfozz

This one is so juicy:

“I feel like I need to put my senior year of college on hold along with the rest of my life’s plans, and just do a full-scale, blown out investigation and inquiry, into the stupidity and absurdity of all of this and get a Pulitzer out of it. “

blaxabbath

I was sort of hoping NE’s downfall would be more abrupt; dual G-Lord/TB12 retirements; FA’s fleeing; a couple draft busts. But now that I see it is going to be gradual (that SB ‘victory’ over SEA is the end of their legacy), I’m a little more excited to see NE fans have to hold out hope of the franchise simply ‘reloading’ for years until they realize that they’d have been better off just seeing it blow up so they could start over.

Unsurprised
Unsurprised

No one at Bunker Hill Community College is doing a senior thesis.

Senor Weaselo

Down from the projected number of 3.

Senor Weaselo

THE DRAHMAH OF TAWMMY BRADY’S TRIBULATIONS IS MOAH WORTHY OF THE HAWNAH THAN THAT DAHKIE HAMILTON, NO ONE DENIES THIS!

jjfozz

Glad to hear you’re coming out of it – and oddly enough I had a booze/hangover induced attack yesterday morning when I woke up at 430 and then had a restless sleep until 630.

Jesus Christ did it SUCK. Luckily my wife was able to figure out what was happening and chilled me out. Still sucked ass the rest of the day.

I take something called Gabapentin when I’m worked up, it definitely helps me. I also take something called bourbon.

Remember too, you’ve got a lot on your mind – so sometimes the mind decides to take itself out for a Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Here’s hoping things are looking up.

King Hippo

Here’s one of my favourite covers to make you feel better and shit:

blaxabbath

Not to offer too many spoilers here or anything, but I’d be having a panic attack too if I had the Eagles to trade out of the #2 spot on my draft predictions.

(Go change your Eagles pick so you can breathe, WCS).

theeWeeBabySeamus

Oh shit that’s right….we need to get those changed today don’t we?
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blaxabbath

It doesn’t really matter unless you hit the Powerball.

theeWeeBabySeamus

Hope the doc visit gets the respiratory thing under control quickly. Sounds like first and foremost at the moment, you need to be able to not be fearful of teh sleep. Brain needs to disengage for a while, but in a good way.
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Beerguyrob

Catharsis comes in many forms, one of which is apparently a well-attended dick joke blog. That’s why we choose to be Commentists. Glad to see you’ve made the dawn.

blaxabbath

Not well-attended enough to hammer me with Bud Light and Esquire TV pop-ups every time I click on a post.

Beerguyrob

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monty this seems strange to me

I can probably work in all of Automatic For The People on this thread.

Duchess

I once suffered from Summer Asthma. I was 15 and only happened during this time, but I would have coughing fits that would lead to me not being able to breath. It was scary as fuck because I felt like I forgot how to breath and for that brief moment panic sets in and you’re trying to remember how to breath.

Then I apparently contracted whooping cough in my 20’s because I didn’t keep my T-DaP shots up to date. Once again big coughing fits and cold symptoms. fun times

monty this seems strange to me

The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem

Thank you for sharing. A non-trivial amount of the suffering involved in anxiety (and depression) is that feeling of isolation- that you are “the only person awake on the planet” writ large.

Also, I enjoy (wrong word, but whatever) hearing how other people experience their own personalized version of these things. Like Monty’s description below, parts sound familiar, parts are different.

monty this seems strange to me

ballsofsteelandfury

If you ever wake up in the middle of the night feeling alone on a weekend, AFL is great for knowing there are people doing cool stuff on the other side of the world.

Hope the doc visit helps!

Unsurprised
Unsurprised

I had a panic attack in the summer of 2004 once and it scared the Hell out of me.

But it’s also what got me to begin treating my general anxiety and depression, and it’s never happened since. I think this and your plan for dealing with it is the best way to proceed.

Unsurprised
Unsurprised
Inanimate Carbon Rod Marinelli

Every time I see a reference to white genocide, it makes me wish there was a swat team composed of European Jews, Armenians, and Rwandans that we could dispatch to educate these folks on what an actual genocide is.

Beerguyrob

THE BRITISH ARE KEEPIN’ OWAH IRISH BROTHA’S DOWN!

Kungjitsu
Kungjitsu

Everything I know about panic attacks I learned from Jay Mohr. Let that marinate a little bit.

The way he explains it is that panic attacks are not anxiety. Anxiety is getting a knot in the pit of your stomach because your boss is going to give you shit about your TPS reports. Panic attacks are life and death levels of adrenaline getting released into your system for no reason, and they’re a legitimate health issue. His doctor put him on something that he swears saved his life.

blaxabbath

I won the THTC once. No big deal.

King Hippo

yeah, that is a bitch. I have always been more of a “constant background anxiety” person, but when I briefly had teh panic attacks, my doc prescribed Xanax and it helped significantly.

But mine were specifically event-driven, so a different kettle of fish. I would indeed talk to somebody who’s a pro at this. We got your back, yo.

monty this seems strange to me

Glad we could be here for you to get this all out. Mine is depression and I know that feeling of not being able to sleep thinking about all the terrible things that will probably happen the next day.

The Right Reverend Electric Mayhem

I get a combination- lie there thinking about the horrible things upcoming, and then get the cold spikey sweats about not knowing how to head them off or what I forgot to do.

Life’s rich pageant…

Doktor Zymm

Have you read any of the Awkward Yeti comics? If not, it sounds like you would enjoy them. Best of luck getting stuff better 🙂
http://theawkwardyeti.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/107_ImpendingDoom-772×1024.png

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh

Well done.