I was on my way to the airport, driving at 70mph, when I felt it coming on.
“Jesus H … not now!” was all I could think. See, I’ve had them before, the extreme anxiety moments. I know the telltale signs: The sudden, light-headed feeling and the tingling warmth that climbs up the back of my skull. Both are indicative of a surge that could, if I let it, turn in to a full-blown panic attack.
I don’t get them often. In fact, with regular exercise at the gym, cutting my intake of sugars, fats, and non-vegetable carbs, plus a small dose of estrogen every day, they are relatively rare. Like once or twice a year rare. But this was just after Dragon*Con and not only had I gone two weeks to the day not working out, my diet had consisted of whatever was available at the con before returning home to a mostly empty fridge.
When they occur I stop whatever I’m doing, do some bio-feedback exercises – regular breathing, picturing a calm place, gently telling myself to get the fuck over it – and I’m perfectly fine in five minutes or less. This time, however, I decided to see what would happen if I pushed through it for the less than three minutes it was going to take to reach the pick-up spot where my love would be waiting.
Not going to say it was a big mistake. I didn’t cause any accidents, nor did I freak out completely behind the wheel. When I stopped, however, I was in full panic; shaking, heart racing, perspiration on my upper lip, the works. The first thing I did upon pulling over was get out, hug that man of mine for a long time, and tell him he was driving us home.
I leaned back in the passenger seat and started my exercises, but it took the entire 30 minute drive to calm me down. Another 30 minutes after that, we were changed and on our way to the gym. Then, on the way home, we stopped at the grocery store to replenish our usual dietary needs.
There is no guarantee my particular regimen will help anyone who suffers panic attacks; I only know what works for me. Just to be safe, though, I went to the doctor and had blood drawn to check my thyroid and a host of other possible issues. No matter what the doc says, though, I’m certainly not going to slack off for two weeks like that again.
On the bright side, I have a whole new appreciation for my Mom, who stopped driving herself anywhere for years before she died. I loved her, sure, but I don’t ever want to be that reliant on the kindness and generosity of others. Regardless of her own fears, phobias, and anxieties – and there were many of them, too – Mom didn’t raise me to rely on anyone but myself. She also taught me personal responsibility, so when I slack off, the result is my own fault. That panic attack could have been easily prevented, but I wasn’t taking care of myself.
Rest assured, I won’t be doing that again too soon.
no more never.