Panic Attacks Coming Back



I hadn’t had one in a really long time.  Maybe a year or years, until she went to Florida with a friend six months ago and I started imagining her getting hurt and not being able to get to her for a several hour plane ride.  It was bad.  The racing heart, the shaking, the crying, the choking feeling, the hyperventilating, feeling like I couldn’t breathe, losing control of myself.  Mostly the breathing – suffocating really.

Then last month, I show up in church, expecting it to be nearly empty.  It was not.  Standing room only.  I stayed with my head down almost the entire time because the sea of bodies in front of me was too much to bear.

Claustrophobia set in, heart racing, rapid breathing, overwhelming urge to cry, depersonalization (I felt like I was out of my body watching everything from above the crowd,) shaking,  twitching.  I tried to stayed grounded by holding the book and following along with the readings and prayers.  I made it through with friends on either side of me and behind me.

And now another one last week, after arriving in a crowded neighborhood filled with mom and pop restaurants, delis, and bakeries, expecting it to not be crowded.  We had to park blocks away from our destination.  The sun was in my eyes the entire walk and I forgot my sunglasses, and the temperature was cold.  I felt the first twinges of agitation.

The people we met decided they wanted lunch before we went to the bakery.  This was not the original plan.  We walked several blocks looking for a place to have lunch that wasn’t overbooked and couldn’t find any place, so we gave up and went back to the bakery.

The bakery was small and packed, and we had to wait for our number to be called.  I stood in a corner by the door and tried to stay out of everyone’s way, silently begging people to stop talking to me.  Responding required too much concentration and my irritability level was now through the roof.

I was began to have shortness of breath, dizziness, feelings like things weren’t real, like I was in a dream.  By the time we got in the car and drove away, I was fighting the urge to break out in tears.  I felt like I was going crazy and going to lose control of myself, flail myself out of the car while it was moving or start speaking in jibberish language or something.  I took an Ativan and my panic attack subsided about ten minutes later.

I usually take an Ativan in anticipation of crowded or stress producing/irritation producing events and then do ok.  I didn’t in these cases because I wasn’t expecting them to be that way, which made them even more stressful because of the surprise factor to it, I suppose.  Something to tell my doctor next time.

Suicidal Migraine

A blade slices mine in two
for Hannibal Lecter’s meal.
Chew. Chew.”

Every molar sinking in,
masticating; nerve-ends serrating.
There’s nothing I can do,

but succumb to the sadist’s call or
I could just end it all:

dog pile mind-rapes;
personality mishapes.

You see,

to leave it all behind,
my dead body
they will find.

Being Mindful of Your Emotions

buddha-452028__180So in dealing with my social anxiety and fears of what other people think of me, I decided to dig out my DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) binder and review some skills I might be forgetting to use.  The first thing that jumped out at me is “Wise Mind.”

Just when I didn’t think I was crazy enough, according to DBT, I have three minds:

  1. Emotional Mind
  2. Rational Mind
  3. Wise Mind

Emotional Mind is what I have been in all day as I have fretted over last night’s outing with friends.  What did they think of me?  Was I funny?  Whas I a dork?  Did they like me?  Did they think I was nice?  Or obnoxious?  Or weird?  Will they ever want me to go out with them again or will they invite me just to be nice?  Emotional mind feeds the fear big time!

Rational Mind recalls what everyone had to eat, what topics we discussed, and what everyone’s name was.  Rational mind doesn’t really help relieve the fear.  In fact, rational mind completely ignores the fear.

Wise Mind is like the old Chinese grandpa Buddha guy.  “Ommmmm.”  Wise Mind takes into account my feelings and the facts of the given situation.  Wise Mind says, I understand your fear as someone who has social anxiety disorder.  That must be really hard for you.  However, let us look at the facts.  Those who engaged in conversation with you did seem to genuine laugh and made complete eye contact with you.  Those who didn’t may have not been interested in the topic at hand or had something else on their mind.  There is no way to know that they were necessarily thinking something negative about you.  To try to figure out if they were or not is a complete waste of time, because short of asking them, which you will never do, this is something you will never know for sure.

Wise Mind says, Yeah, I hear what you’re saying dude, but let me lay it out for you in the nicest, most compassionate, loving, and validating way I can.  I love Wise Mind!