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.
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