Monday, June 15, 2009

Panic In The Streets


Something has happened to me. Is happening to me?

I am afraid that if I write about it... what? It will be real, finally? I will have to do something about it? Somehow, that writing about it will make it into a big fat fuss when it's really nothing? Will it offend people who suffer from panic attacks to read my recounting of a couple of episodes of I-don't-know-what-but-it-might-be-panic-attacks, because really, I am just being a schmo?

I have probably not been having panic attacks. But I have been having... something. I have had a bit of tightly wound something that has been noticeable since I went into the mission field (I served a stateside LDS mission in my late 20's). Tightly wound. And that's the nice way of putting it.

The summer after Pearl got out of the hospital I got a little taste of an all new something though; a something that has hit me rather hard the past few weeks. I remember that Pearl still had her g-tube in, so it was probably in June, and we were at an amusement park just North of Salt Lake City, they have this big Ferris wheel that had extra-large, round baskets that easily held our whole family. A person would have to try really hard to get hurt on this thing, and we were there to have fun, and while I don't love heights, Ferris wheels seem pretty tame to me. But I fully freaked out on the ride.

I had my kids there, so I didn't get all screamy and outwardly freaked, but my heart was pounding, I was sweating, gallons of adrenaline were being dumped into my system and I cried steadily and quietly for most of the ride.

I'll buy that it was just some PTSD from the whole experience of the close call with Pearl, followed by her grueling recovery, and I hadn't much worried about it; till now.

This past spring we took the whole family plus my eighteen year old niece to Denver to visit my sister and her family. It was around the middle of April, so when my sister called the morning were we leaving to make the drive, to express her concerns about us making it through Vail Pass safely, I took it seriously, only sort of not. How bad can it get in April?

I'll tell you.... bad. Really, really, really bad.

And we were in our brand new
(to us... it's a 2008) van. A Kia Sedona, that for as nice as it is, has this feature called ESC... a sort of equalizing traction thingy that is it's default mode. A default mode that, while I am sure it is great for keeping you from hydroplaning or slipping in a patch of sand on the highway, has the unfortunate side effect of undermining the power the van needed to make it up an icy, snow covered mountain road. We know that this feature is called ESC now, because after 20 minutes of slipping about and physically pushing the van up the mountain a few inches at a time in the dark, with other vehicles slewing about past us... we pushed the button that said "ESC off" out of desperation (inspiration?).

It must be stated here that, as we were driving off the lot with our new van, we spent over 15 minutes pouring over the owner's manual and pushing that button trying to figure out what it did to no avail.

Now we know.

Once we were finally to a safer place, my hands started to shake and I started to cry. I don't mean a tremble in my hands, I mean I would not have been able to hold a glass with a half inch of water in the bottom of it without giving myself a shower. Which, you might just think that this was perhaps a warranted reaction to what we had just been through... I would like to point out that no one else was having this kind of reaction. Just me, and it took every last bit of my will and determination to not make a big scene out of it. I think that I should also say, I am not having visions of disasters replaying in my head while this is happening. I am not obsessing myself into freak-out. This is a physical thing and it's pissing me off.

Most recently, Dadguy and I have been looking at some mountain lots for possible purchase. We want to eventually have a cabin, and Dadguy has stumbled onto this area that has what we want... and we can actually afford some of it.

Only it's been really rainy lately. And apparently I have developed a "thing" about muddy dirt roads as well as icy roads. Because really... y'all... I have been stuck in the mud before and it is not the end of the flippin' WORLD!

And I mean really stuck, in some world-class, mud-season mud in Vermont's puckerbrush back of nowhere, in what the truly erudite would call "bee-eff-ee." Solidly stuck in the snow in New Hampshire in a whole bunch of places.
I have been spectacularly high-centered in a sandy wash in the tooley-bops outside of Farmpit, New Mexico in the middle of the night, and I, those who were with me, and the vehicles involved in each case, survived. This is not a Zombie Apocalypse we are talking about here.

But lately the adrenaline starts coursing, my hands start shaking and I get this note in my voice that I cannot stop.

I cannot stop.

And I hate this. I cannot stop it from happening, and it sucks down vast portions of my energy and personal reserves. Leaves me feeling wrung out and weepy.

I am not excited about being this way. I am not this way. Dadguy says that this is uncharacteristic of me, and frankly, he's only seeing the bit that is slipping through the cracks. The rest is a slavering, rabid dog tearing huge chunks of my insides out. But I am not really sure what to do. These episodes are so spread out, I'd hate to spend all of my regular non-panicking life being medicated for these relatively isolated instances. And really, I am still moving and sort of functioning while it's happening.

Only I have had two in the past two weeks, and this scares me.


Anonymous said...

*hugs* That sounds awful. Take care.

Anonymous said...

bon, its yer hormones. this is your mother here , the lady with the weird hormones. i know whereof i speak. menopause is slowly approaching, things are shifting, don't be surprised aabout being crazy. I know how you feel cause it gets me too, and still does only not so bad 25 years later. I love you Mom

elizasmom said...

I have no experience with panic attacks, but that sounds awful and I hope you can find a fix.

D'you think talking about Pearlie's brush with medical horrors for the TV might've brought on some PTSD?

bon said...

Sighhhh.. Mama, you may very well be right. Feels kinda hormonal. But the EM might be right too.

Or... I may be a freak.

Or... I may be a twit.

Ah! The possibilities are ENDLESS!

Amers said...

Hey bon, your dc sis here-- I REALLY feel for you. I really do! I've had those kind of panic attacks (granted, not as often as you), and they generally come when I haven't eaten in a while, haven't eaten well, or eaten too much sugar. the best remedy in the moment (and I realize that those moments aren't usually ideal for having these remedies on hand) is one or all of the following:
-a huge glass of water
-some celery
-a couple of spoons of Cod liver oil
-any kind of dark green leafy veggies or cruciferous veggies
-salty food

You're not going crazy, and unless you have an abiding long-term depression going on, I doubt you need medicine. I went to a doc/psychologist for this kind of thing a couple of years ago, and she said that since it (the crying/panicky spells) only came on once and a while, she thought it was hormones and food related. Butler bodies, unfortunately, are EXTREMELY sensitive to sugars, hence our tendency towards alcoholism (which is a very potent sugar). and of course you know all this, so i'm preaching to the choir. But my suggestion for mood and panic control is to cut the sugar out (including fruit juices). or find good alternatives (agave, stevia, rapadura, xylitol). Add in fish oil and a LOT more fresh cruciferous veggies. Also, try to cut out the soda in any form. that carbonation does nasty things to the minerals in your body and bones, which in turn through your hormones off.

I love you!! You're not crazy! but try to do these things for a couple of months before you go see a shrink... :)

Mama D said...

I second the motion that you are not crazy. It definitely sounds hormonal to me. Those hormones, we need em but geesh, they do all kinds of awful stuff to us when/if they get out of whack. It could be a Molotov cocktail of postpartum and menopausal hormones. Wee! In any case I am so sorry because it sounds horrible. I hope it starts to settle down and go away.

Sibley Saga .... said...

I do believe I've had several of those in my lifetime and just did not know what to call them. They are scary. As for me, I didn't really do anything intelligent about them, I just plowed on ahead with life. I haven't had one in years. This has got to be the least useful comment you've gotten as I have no clue what to advise, just sending a cyber version of a nod and an "I hear ya sister!"

bahecky said...

Bon - they do sound like panic attacks to me as well. And they may very well be connected to either hormone levels or food/blood sugar levels or both. There are treatments available short of medication (which is also available, and you wouldn't have to take it all the time - just symptomatically), like psychotherapy, doesn't have to be a psychiatrist, can be a licensed independent social worker (what Klynn is) or a counselor of some other sort. Klynn actually has dealt with clients with similar situations quite frequently.

I agree that things like this can be so frustrating, scary, make-you-feel-stupid-ish as your brain is telling you "I'm fine!" and your body is SO not agreeing. So - I also will second Samia's and other comments that you're not alone.

Love and hugs...

Anonymous said...

Welcome to your Dad's side of the family~~

Suburban Gorgon said...

Bless your heart, honey. That sounds just miserable, and I don't have one damn good piece of advice for you except to keep talking to your doctor.

Becky..AMHW said...

First thing I thought...hormones.

Been having fun with mine lately.

Jo said...

Anxiety sucks! Hope you find some answers. Yoga really helps and I am not teasing you.

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

sweetums - I love you. I have lots and lots of ideas, any of which may or may not be helpful. I don't want to throw tools at you unless you want them, know what I mean?

Feel free to tap me if you want to brainstorm - I'm here for you.