Category Archives: panic attack

Week 3…The Final Stretch

TRIGGER WARNING: I will be writing about my fear of puking.

This is it. This is the final stretch of a good chunk of my anxiety. Then it will just be school and not school and…. I’m feeling pretty chill though after a friend told me of a stomach bug going around the office below ours, which is something I just hate. I mean, sure no one likes having the pukes, but I have Emetephobia: the fear of vomiting.

I’ve gotten to a point where I’m not nearly as freaked out by it as I used to be. It used to be that life shut down if I even thought something might cause me to vomit. Last year my doctor ignored my insistence that one of the meds she had given me was making me vomit. I spent more than my fair share worshiping the porcelain goddess. My doc still insists that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I told her, “Well, no, I don’t think you know what you’re talking about because I have the ER paper work to prove that I actually got dehydrated from the last time I took your med and puked my guts up.” She just shook her head at me. Seriously?

I’m going to be fine. I will myself to be well. Or at the very least – be well at work. That’s where my Emetephobia is still bad. I’m terrified of getting sick at work. Especially if its the vomiting and runs kind of sick that I tend to get whenever I get sick. Such a mess. I’ve prayed that the Lord would let me stay well at work and that if I had to get sick at least let me be home.

But I’m believing and praying that I will be well and not have to deal with this stomach bug at all. Please God, let it skip me! At least, let it skip me through Saturday!

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The Skinny. The Low Down. The Thing We Don’t Talk About.

I did not go on my trip to see Sarah in Philadelphia. I’ve been trying to figure out how to say that and the reason why for the last few days, only to be spared from thinking about it while I had the worst head cold ever last week.

While I don’t need to justify to anyone other than Sarah and myself, I feel that visibility about how an anxiety disorder can wreck things is something that I should share.

Double Trouble!

Double Trouble! That’s me on the left and Sarah on the right. What the heck am I wearing? A purple tank top? WTH?

Two weeks ago when I picked up my blog again, school being the biggest reason I don’t write in it, I posted a couple of times about the trip and my worries. That week I had also been given some bad news about my health that require huge changes (with little support for how to make those changes by my doctor). So by Wednesday of that week I was so in a tizzy that my anxiety was acting out in other ways besides the usual panic attacks.

This is something I’ve been able to track – sometimes when I’m really anxious about something I will instead project my anxiety onto something else instead of the thing I’m actually anxious about. Why? I have no idea. This time it was school. I’m on the quarter system so I go to school for 10 weeks and then have a couple of weeks off before the next quarter begins. I’ve been going to school since September 2011. All four quarters: Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.

The stress of school, working full time, and trying to not let that stress interfere with my relationship with my husband is really hard. I sometimes fail miserably and the balance goes all wonky. I was only into week 2 when my anxiety about the trip started. I should have really considered my school schedule along with my trip before I made any plans. But as someone with my disorder, I often feel guilty that my anxiety and depression keep other people from having any fun with me. The “People Pleaser” in me comes out in full force instead of being honest.

So I had crying break down. I did a couple of stupid things – remember I’m projecting my anxiety – and emailed some professors and classmates about the “unfairness” of a class we are required to take. I’m so embarrassed. It was a stupid email. Finally my husband asked me, “What is really going on?” And that’s when I broke. We decided together and later validated by Sarah and my therapist that the trip just wasn’t in my cards just yet. Oh its there, and its going to happen but maybe not when I’m not going to school and working and maybe not after I’ve gotten some crappy news that equally makes me anxious but also depresses me.

So there it is. I didn’t go. I ended up catching a horrible head cold and spent my vacation time in bed. But it was the best stay-cation ever. I really needed the rest and the sleep I got. I’m back at work today. Yesterday I did some homework. I feel a little more clear headed than I did a week ago.

I’m also not stressing about school. The class is crap. That’s how I feel about it. I know several other people in my class who feel the same way, so at least I’m not alone. I also talked to my professor and he knows how badly I’m struggling and has offered to help me as much as possible – as long as I ask for the help. So we’ll see. I’m shooting for a C in that class. It’s not an A or a B but its realistic. Finger’s crossed. Six more weeks to go.

Bi-Annual Panic Attack Celebration!

I hadn’t realized until just this evening that I was due for my Bi-Annual Panic Attack Celebration! As soon as I remembered it was high time to celebrate my agoraphobia I put on my party hat and let myself have a whale of a time panicking.

Good times!

I don’t schedule these celebrations. It’s so much more fun to celebrate panic unawares ahead of time then plan for it. Granted, it doesn’t give me much time to decorate or prepare some good eats, but, honestly, when panicking food and decorations is the last thing on my mind. I guess I could look at my on the spot panic attack celebrations as a fantastic money-saving tip.

The only downside to these celebrations is the real panic attack. I guess I should have realized, and probably knew one was on the way, that a panic attack was headed my way. Things have been rough, to say the least; and I’m about to undertake an adventure that I would never have been able to do 12 years ago. Scratch that…an adventure I could not do Fall 2011, which may have even cost me my then job in the long run.

My best friend, Sarah, lives in Philadelphia. Mike and I visited her once in 2011. We had a really wonderful time. It was my first long road trip since my agoraphobia diagnosis in 2001. We had a rough trip to South Carolina in 2009*. But we had one really nice trip to Virginia in 2010*. Our long road trip to Pennsylvania to visit Sarah and my family for Christmas 2011 was really, really good. Not a single panic attack. Not even an anxiety attack. The trip was really wonderful. I road public transportation. Spent a full day wandering around with Sarah and Mike around Philly. Took a mini-road trip with just Sarah from Philly to Williamsport. And then Mike and I had the return trip from Williamsport back to Florida. The whole trip was wonderful. In fact, it was the best I had felt both physically and mentally in a really long time.

Since then we have taken mini-road trips to Savannah to see my parents. I’ve even been able to drive good portions of the way without succumbing to my road-narcalepsy. Each trip I venture out further from my parent’s house bit by bit enjoying the freedom of being agoraphobia free without even realizing that I am at that moment agoraphobic.

But even though I have all these major successes I still have at least one major panic attack every six months. With everything as it is right now my various issues at this time, at that moment came together to create my perfect mental storm.

As the wave of panic flooded through me, the wave of cold sweats and hot flashes through my body, I held on to enough sanity to recognize and evaluate what was happening to me. This is something I’ve only been able to do over the last year. In the midst of the panic I reminded myself of where I was, that I was safe, and that it was actually OKAY to panic right now. I’ve been sick. I’ve had some bad news about my health come up this past week. I have a lot of work to do to get better. I’m about to get on a plane by myself twice! Yeah, lots of stressful things going on. I gave myself the permission to panic, to ride the wave of panic to its end.

In the 10 minutes (maybe even less) from the beginning to end of the attack I nurtured myself. Afterwards, I pampered myself by cooling off with a nice cold rag on my forehead and doing the things I was planning to do before the attack hit.

I’m still going to Philadelphia. As Mike reminded me, there is nothing to be afraid of by going to see the second most trusted person in my life. A couple of weeks ago I admitted to Sarah my fear she simply said, “Don’t worry. I’ll be at the airport.” Mike and Sarah are my heroes. Sarah recently flew to India by herself to see a friend of ours get married. Mike travels a lot for his job.

It’s not just important for me to go to Philadelphia to see my best friend, its important to go as part of the ongoing process of curing the agoraphobia. Sure, I’m “cured” when I’m in my safe place. But to keep getting better I have to move beyond that. So I am going to Philadelphia. I may go under the influence of Clonazepam, but I am getting on that plane to see Sarah and getting back on that plane to come home to see Mike. And I’m going to not only survive this adventure, I’m going to enjoy it!

*Dates might be screwy because of my agoraphobia and depression – each have the tendency to create a Swiss cheese effect in my memory.

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Post panic attack – tired and disheveled