Panic attacks. First the nausea sets in, followed shortly by my heart beat racing. My limbs feel like jelly as the adrenaline starts to kick in and the nausea deepens. A prickly heat creeps up my body and I feel both hot and cold at the same time. I clutch at my chest, because I’m convinced I can’t slow my heart rate down. That sets in even more panic. That strange dreamlike feeling of impending doom creeps in and at its worst, I cry and I don’t know why. That fight or flight mode is kicking in and kicking my ass. My mind thinks I’m danger, but I also know that I’m not. There’s nothing I can do except force myself to take deep breaths, find somewhere quiet, somewhere I feel safe. When the episode is over, I am exhausted. I want nothing more than to crawl into bed to sleep it off.
P IS FOR PANIC
I like to keep things easy breezy on this blog. Like Kristen Wiig drunk on an aeroplane or Anna Faris’s rubbery face, you know? But life is not always good, good, good. To appreciate the good, there has to be the bad.
An old friend emailed me earlier this week, feeling low over what they perceived to be the success of former friends- me included. I was like, hang on, NO. Whilst I don’t want this blog to be a negative nancy, I can’t pretend that its a constant stream of sunshine and rainbows. Life can’t be about sunshine and rainbows all the time, that’s just not how it works.
So here’s the thing- I go to therapy.
I’ve been open about having a panic attack right before my honeymoon last year. I thought I could manage it, except here’s the thing- I wasn’t.
My ‘wobblies’ as I called them were becoming more frequent and out of the blue. I knew it was time to do something about it when I went to see the Harry Potter play a few weeks back. I couldn’t tell you what happened for the first part of the second act because my eyes were tightly shut as I fought off the panic and doom that had set in. That was when I knew I needed help.
Within days, I had found a therapist and had a session booked.
New situations can make me more susceptible to having a wobbly; so the run up to my first therapy session was…interesting.
I was nervous. Because, hello, stranger, please listen to me pour my heart out and tell me how to fix me. That just isn’t me at all. There can be chaos all around me, and I will still say “I’m fine”
So, typically, what happened within the first 15 minutes of my session?
I bawl my bloody eyes out.
Like Chunk in The Goonies when the bad guys are threatening him, I just blubbed away over things I didn’t even realise I was bothered about.
Therapy man. It kicks you in the nuts.
AM I 'CURED'?
Do I consider myself ‘cured’?
No. That’s now how it works. Going to therapy is helping me piece together parts of the jigsaw puzzle that is life, not necessarily giving me answers but giving impartial nuggets of wisdom that I hadn’t thought about before.
Have I had any more wobblies since it started?
Sure. A couple. But they fade away quicker, and I am starting to understand the why’s and how come’s of it all.
I don’t know.
I’m pretty certain I won’t need therapy for much longer, that I won’t feel magically better overnight, but after every session, I feel like I am carrying less of a burden, less of a weight on myself.
So, there we go. Life is good. But it is also crappy. That’s just how it is sometimes. A blog (or any social media presence) is a beautifully curated thing and it is easy to fall into the trap that someone has their shit together. No one has their shit together. We just deal with it in different ways.
If you want any other ‘tips’ or ‘advice’ or my Top Ten Ways to Beat Panic Attacks (sorry, sorry) email me. Okay, but in all seriousness, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have in private.
As every therapy session of mine ends – ‘Go Well!’