7 years ago, I started having panic attacks. I didn’t know that’s what they were. I just knew that I’d be trying to do something, and my mind would get swimmy and my breath would get short and my hands would get weak and trembly and I couldn’t focus on any one thing because someone had turned the volume up on all of my many, many too too many thoughts.
When the bigness passed, I’d still have this residual feeling of sitting on top of volcano poised to explode. Like the crazy could come tumbling out any minute, if I shifted my weight to the side or didn’t keep constant vigil. That feeling, the feeling of having to contain something uncontainable, was constant.
The attacks did not happen in response to big, scary things. They happened when I had to decide what to eat for dinner, or if I should meet my friend for coffee. That’s how I knew that something was wrong. Because it had not previously caused me physical distress to make simple decisions, or when faced with completing basic human functions.
So off I went to the doctor, who prescribed me a benzo for the actual attacks (like xane.x but not, if you’re not in the know) and a longer term maintenance medication. After about 6 months of being on the maintenance med, I was hardly ever using the benzo, so I stopped getting it refilled.
I’ve been on that same dose of the maintenance medication from that time until my pregnancy, when they dropped my dose by half. I tolerated the drop just fine, and felt good about staying on the medication but also lowering the amount needed. I have stayed on that lower dose since Ansel was born. It’s been just fine.
In the last few weeks, life feels like it’s gone off the rails. That feeling of sitting on the volcano is back, and almost once a day for the last week, I’ve had a panic attack. Mostly, they’ve been mild, the kind I can manage with some deep breathing, or a walk. But some of them have been much worse, the out of focus physical exhaustion kind. On Sunday, it was because we were running late to Mother’s Day lunch. Today, it was reviewing my fairly average to do list. Something is wrong.
There is some added stress in life, yes. I’m terrified to my core of the recovery for this upcoming surgery, which renders me unable to walk for weeks. I’m nervous but so excited about the opportunities L might have career wise and where that might take our family. I’m slightly nervous about what packing up and selling a home might look like while I am unable to walk. But none of this seems to add up to the kind of anxiety I’m feeling. I can’t get rid of it – it feels smothering.
So, I’m headed back to the doc on Friday. I’m hoping they’ll give me than benzo script again, for the meantime, and maybe up my dose of the maintenance. And I’m going to try and be more diligent about getting sleep when I can (ha. ha ha ha.) and taking some time to myself. A friend of mine gave me a couple of ativa.n that I probably won’t take because I’m anxious about only have two of them (irony.) as well as a chamomile tincture to try.
I hate how on edge I get, how the fear of being out of control looks like anger to my family, how close to tears I am all the time, just trying to hold it together. My stomach is a mess, I’m not able to fall asleep even when Ansel is, and I’m making terrible choices about food which only makes me feel worse. All of this is compounded by the deep fear I now have about how this impacts my ability to parent, and the ways anxiety uses my sweet boy to fuck with my head, by fixating on his health or imaging myself or him dying. It’s a shitshow, y’all. That’s what I’m saying.