I will always remember my first panic attack......
It's one thing to read books, articles and listen to people sharing what it's like having phobias, anxiety attacks and depression. The first time I saw my husband have a panic attack he stared right through me not realizing that I was right there. I was looking all around me as I was so confused by this so I asked him "What is happening right now?"
He brought the topic of panic attacks to my attention back when we were first married, so I knew when I had my first attack what was happening to me as I slide to the floor gasping for air!
I have listened to many podcasts on the social expectations that bring out such fears in us which creates such a sense of helplessness and a sense of endless struggle in trying to live, trying to survive out in a world that we can't control.
As a young adult I felt like my life was not in the hands of anyone else, not trapped in any choice I made because I had dealt with those emotions and thoughts back in high school when I was extremely trapped and depressed. I use to be so afraid of growing up, my mother never said anything good about adulthood, so my sense of panic was comforted through praying all the time especially when I felt out of control of anything changing as I grew up.
When I realized that no one can tell me what my life should look like, that no one can make me do anything I didn't want to do, I broke free from that fear of the future. I spent a big part of my life being happy and grateful to be my own person.
I will always remember my first panic attack, it was when my best friend Benny died from a sudden heart attack.
I had gone to her home and to her family to help her husband moved from their now sad home.
I had already made those plans with her before she died, so my panic attack came while I realized that she should be there with me packing up boxes of her very own things.
My first panic attack was very painful in struggling against the way I had once thought about my life, and now such a very important person like her was taken away from me. I couldn't do anything to fix it. All of those plans we had were gone. Our shared sisterhood and stories stopped there in that moment as I felt dizzy and weak, as I cried myself down to my knees.
I knew that by allowing myself to feel everything all at once and thinking over all that is lost and all that is changed the panic attack helped me face my future as the fear washed over me. As the story of my life was now forever changed. I sat there on the floor of her basement all alone in that truth, in that pure panic.
I also learned that the floor is the safest place to be when having a panic attack, I like how solid and strong the ground is while I lay there awhile until I come back to myself again.
It was very hard to have my best friend die suddenly, and then it was truly shocking to have my brother die suddenly a couple of months ago.
So I have come to realize that there is no escaping my panic attacks, I should let them play out as time has changed once again. I simply let the pain burst forth taking my strength away. For I am not in control of this story anymore, actually I never really was......
Panicking is a real feeling of facing the truth. Crying is a release of this truth and all the pain it holds.
Freezing up or falling to the floor isn't anything to be ashamed of, in fact it's just a safety move for protection in a horrible time.
For I will never be able to burst through my front door ever again exclaiming "Derek! Ya came! I was hoping you could make it! How wonderful to see you!" in that cheerful happiness as the BBQ smoke fills the warm summer evening air as He gives me a big hug and chuckles at my joyful greeting, knowing I am always so expressive and so grateful to have him over! He smiles on in my many memories like this.....
The truth in that this will never happen again brings on those panic attacks. The fear and the truth get all mixed up with each other I think....
I believe that the human heart and mind knows that when everything is happening at once, when everything is struggling and trying to survive, the race against time that nothing is ours to claim or control, panic kicks in, our reaction to this whole event is a powerful motivator to change or to learn a new way in adapting to such stressful sorrow.
For good or for bad we have reactions that surprise us in facing life's many stories.
I have learned to simply let the tears fall like rain, let it go as it takes all my pain to the floor and when I come back to myself I realize my personal fears are very real in me. I need to get back up on my feet and be brave once again.
After one of my panic attacks I often understand how trapped I honestly feel. That I will always be stuck across the wide open lake away from my brother Derek who I imagine is out there camping against the mountain side in his happy place.... while I had once so easily sat next to him over the family dinner table teasing and talking with no fear of the future back then.....
Life is full of memories and emotions, of hopes and dreams as we face our panicking fears, as we live on through out the years, perhaps ironically Life is no match for death and we are made wiser for it.