Saturday, December 22, 2012


Panic is a sudden sensation of fear which is so strong as to dominate or prevent reason and logical thinking, replacing it with overwhelming feelings of anxiety and frantic agitation consistent with an animalistic fight-or-flight reaction.

This week I had a panic attack.

I have had three of them in my life that I can remember.

1. After watching "Black Swan" while on my period due to too many doses of Midol
2. Three weeks ago in the grocery store with my older daughter when I was thinking what would happen to her if something happened to me when we were out and about. I got a pain in my chest, and there it started.
3. Thursday afternoon after talking with a friend about a big stressor in my life. The discussion made me realize someone I love may be in real danger, and so it began. This time the panic attack lasted over 30 minutes.

Why is this happening?

I have had my share of bad times, and lately, I'm pretty freaking humbled about my life. I have everything I have asked for. I am full of joy and love. To be honest though, this fulfillment is scary for me. I mean, what if everything falls apart again? I know what you are thinking "wow, she's a pessimist" but that isn't it. I'm just a super cautious person. I am a nurse, and I see lives of people turn upside down in an instant. It is true that some completely healthy twenty-something year-olds do develop serious illnesses. They even die from them.

I did just leave a job I was very comfortable in (my last day was yesterday) for a job that will be challenging but very rewarding. The unknown has never been a place I like to be, but I also believe that you've gotta take big risks to get big rewards.

It is the holidays, and in the midst of the fun, and happiness is the stress of accomplishing shopping, getting Christmas cards out, having to get on a plane with two kids next week (big stress) and a husband who has a phobia of flying (bigger stress). And, of course, the fact that my sister is in heaven and not here with my enjoying our family always lays heavy on my heart this time of year.

Stress. I know I have it, but it really bothers me that my body is reacting to it. I don't know what to do about it other than to be honest about it, write about it (hence this post) and work through it.

What does it feel like?

It usually starts with a visual disturbance. My vision feels darker and blurry. Then I sort of get an overwhelming feeling of fatigue, like I'm so tired I'm just going to pass out. Then the heart starts pounding, and my throat and chest are tingly/burning and I cannot catch my breath. All of this is coupled with pain in my chest and nausea. The first two times it happened I prayed to God for help, and deep breathed my way through it. But this last time, I happened to be driving, so thankfully my husband talked me through it. There was a point I was ready to pull over and call an ambulance, but I refrained.

After it happened, I was wiped out the rest of the night, and the next morning, my stomach was still in knots. I work at a hospital, so a friend hooked me up to a monitor just to help me rationalize that this is all in my head, and I'm not having a heart attack or something. My vitals and heart rhythm were fine (of course).

Now, two days later, I'm still not feeling completely normal, I think just because I am worried it'll happen again, and I won't be able to control it.

So, I'm working on doing a few different things to help me calm down and function without this happening again.

1. I have not been exercising much lately, this is something that I have always done, and helps me a lot with dress. So, I'm getting back into that---- tomorrow!
2. stretching
3. laying off caffeine
4. sleeping and resting a lot
5. writing in a journal, and talking to my husband about how I'm feeling.
6. deep breathing

If anyone has had this happen to them and has more ideas on how I can manage it, please let me know. I'm completely open to suggestions.

For now, I'm off work for two weeks, I have a great holiday planned, and I will be fine.
I will be fine.

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