In the last month, I have experienced three panic (or anxiety attack- potato-potato) attacks. For those of you that understand how it feels, thank you for understanding. For those lucky folks who haven’t had the luxury of an attack, it is terrifying.
It feels like your heart is going to rip out of your chest; it’s beating so fast. You have a hard time breathing; then the low oxygen hits you hard. Soon you’re lite headed and thinking “Crap, I’m going to die in a Costco!”.
As a side note sorry Costco, I promise that when I curled into a ball on one of your chairs I was doing breathing exercises. I wasn’t trying to use my tears to claim your couch as mine. It was a big cushy soft place for me to hide, breath, and try to distract my brain by listening to complicated podcasts.
That was my third panic attack. I could no longer ignore the hill that was turning into a double black diamond mountain run. It was time to see my psychiatrist.
Doctors are to humans with anxiety like Garlic is to vampires
For people that do not deal with anxiety and depression, I want to tell you that going to the doctors’ office is downright terrifying for me. It’s easily on the top of my list of things I don’t want to do. It’s one notch on the ladder above giving my dog an anal expression.
Panic attack number four
On the way into my doctors’ office, a fourth panic attack happened just walking into the building. I quickly hid in the bathroom. I had more than enough time to do so because when you have terrible anxiety, you are early for everything.
So while I pretended to pee, I was huffing and puffing (breathing exercises) trying to get my calm on. You know what kind of breathing exercise I’m talking about right? Breathe in for three counts, hold for two counts, breathe out for three counts. When you’re in the middle of a panic attack, this sounds more like you’re having an asthma attack rather than practicing relaxing breathing.
In and out, in and out. “Umm… are you ok over there? do you need some toilet paper?” This is the mortifying moment I realize that I am not alone in this bathroom and that I’m probably really freaking out the lady in the next stall with crazy heavy breathing and gasping. I fled that bathroom so fast that I’m sure the poor lady was now more freaked out. Now that my panic attack is thoroughly reinvigorated, I figure why not go up to see the doctor?
Doctor of wisdom
My doctor is fantastic. If you don’t have a great psychiatrist, work hard and find one. After I talk it out and explain what’s going on physically, emotionally and what’s going on in real life. All the while the doctor is nodding her head. Finally, this is the wisdom that comes out of her mouth:
“What I think is going on here is serendipitous [hands moving in a juggling motion] unfortunate.”
-Dr. I’m not sure I have permission to use her name
What pray tell is this fascinating perspective into my current emotional smorgasbord?
She goes on to explain that the panic attacks that led me here for help would benefit me in the end(serendipitous). However, it is sad that major life decisions and raising a teen pushed me to this point(unfortunate).
We had adjusted my medication last time I saw her, and this just happened to be the timeframe when I would notice the most change without my meds. Why I never thought about the med change is beyond me. I guess that’s why she’s paid the big bucks.
Now we are changing my dosages and seeing how that goes. The doctor also gave me some new techniques for handling yourself during a panic attack. With a smile on her face, she acknowledged that sometimes breathing exercises may not be appropriate (like in a public bathroom).
If you’re dealing with anxiety and depression, med changes are part of the game. Nothing is a perfect fix and medicines don’t work forever. On the other hand, embarrassment lasts forever.
- Costco, while I don’t want to die in your establishment, I do love you to the max!
- To the women in the bathroom, I am sorry, and I hope both of us never learn the identity of the heavy breather in the ladies bathroom.
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Depression and anxiety are both very serious and tricky to recognize. For information about recognizing depression click here
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