Anxiety Attack


This is going to be a difficult post to publish and I apologize in advance that I don’t know if I’ll be able to respond to comments. I had what I think was my first anxiety attack last night.Β  First, I feel like I owe an apology to anyone who has ever had one, I had no idea how truly physical it can be. I was honestly scared I was having a heart attack. This is hard to talk about because it’s kicking up so much shame and anxiety (I’ve never know the exquisite joy of being anxious about being anxious. NOT a lot of fun. And trying not to be anxious feels a lot like someone saying to you “think about anything but pink elephants.”)

Life has just been kicking my butt lately. Things had finally settled down with the situations I had been struggling with, but then I started working a lot of overtime over the summer. We have a release going out that is really documentation intensive, so my workload has been larger than usual even for the end of a release. Right about the time my boss told me he was moving the release date back a month, my severely abused immune system collapsed. When I finally went to the doctor’s it turned out I had a really nasty sinus infection. Then that kicked off my asthma and I spent over a week sucking on a nebulizer. Not breathing well does nothing for your energy level, let me tell you. Then we went to a wedding and went I got out of the car and put my left leg down, my knee gave out. It was in such bad shape, I ended up walking with a cane for over nine days (and don’t get me going about the level of shame that brought up). (It’s feeling a lot better now and I have an appointment with my ortho specialist at the end of the month. I suspect it’s my arthritis). But all of this is making it very clear that I need to deal with my weight. Which is feeling impossible right now but I am also terrified of becoming a burden on my husband and kids or preventing my husband from enjoying his retirement.

And oh, I forgot. My work computer kept crashing. It died, they fixed the hard drive (thank heaven my backups were up to date). Less than two weeks later, it seized up again. This time they replaced the hard drive and the UPS (that burned up, nothing like the scent of burned insulation in your office). They fixed that. Then I came into the office to realize I had only one functional USB port, so I could connect my backup disc, use my mouse or use my keyboard, but only at one time. I felt something snap inside and told the sys admin, I was going home (I could work on the computer using remote desktop) because I was going to hurt someone otherwise. So I worked home most of this week while they finally built me a new system (the sys admin, who is a good friend, went to my boss and told him “enough, she needs a new computer.” She kindly didn’t quote me since I said “Tell him if I don’t get a new computer, I quit!”) I lost probably close to a week’s work plus the stress. I did finish configuring my new system on Friday so I’m ready to go on Monday. Oh, I’m not working this weekend because my husband has been working OT all this week. So we’re swapping on Monday.

Did I mention the family of four who came to visit labor day weekend? Fun but, you know, no time to get anything done around the house.

It’s also time for fall training on the Crisis line on which I volunteer and am a peer trainer. Which means in addition to my phone shifts (with trainees coming for observation shifts), I also had to attend a Peer Trainer’s meeting. OK, I told you all this to set the stage for what happened last night.

We were planning on doing role plays with the training class on Friday night from 5 – 8. So I was up early (for me, I’m a night owl and have flex hours) and left work early. I was feeling pretty exhausted (as a matter of fact last weeks’ session had been spent discussing boundaries with BN and how stretched out I was feeling. Oh, I forgot something else, it had been my company retreat the weekend before. Your whole family is invited so my husband and I went together. It was fun and should have been relaxing, but one of the roles I fill at the company is an informal position of director of entertainment. πŸ™‚ I’m the person who, when I walk into the room, someone says “ok now we can start the party.” In case that sounds too vain, I am quoting a co-worker from the weekend. I can be really funny and I’m good at keeping conversations going and to be very honest, I often get a kick out of being that person. I love to make people laugh and I’m insecure enough that blatant displays of approval are always welcome. πŸ™‚ But I was tired and ended up resenting having to be “on.” BN and I discussed that I really didn’t have to be “on” but it becomes very scary for me to set a boundary that makes things about what I need, and even moreso when it means I’m not being useful. So I left therapy knowing I needed to work on setting more boundaries.)

SIDENOTE: I think it’s helpful to write this out, because as I’m writing this, being stressed out and tired is starting to feel a lot more reasonable. πŸ™‚

So I’m heading down for the training session and realizing I am going to have to push to be “on.” When I arrived, the class was just taking a dinner break. I ended up in the kitchen with some other peer trainers. The woman who runs the program came in and told us that she decided to try something different with the role plays, so that each of us would be alone with a group (usually there are two peer trainers per group) and I think because I was so tired, it just sounded scary. So we’re sitting there and I realize I am not feeling well. I am getting seriously flushed and feel really overheated and kind of feverish. I’m dizzy and my chest is feeling really tight. And then I realize I am having trouble staying focused and that everything felt unreal. So it’s getting worse and worse and I’m not saying a word (which is, trust me, highly unusual for me) and no one is noticing. So now I feel invisible which is a bit triggering. I realize I have to speak up. So I cleared my throat and said to the director, L, “Um, I’m not feeling too good.” As soon as I said that, everyone stopped speaking and looked at me. You want to know the only thing worse than feeling invisible? Having everyone focused on you when you feel needy. I must not have looked good cause everyone looked concerned. So they started asking me how I felt and I was trying to answer but was also really fighting wanting to just burst into tears. Then didn’t want me driving, so I ended up calling my husband to come pick me up. I have to stress that everyone was incredibly kind, caring and reassuring; I just felt like a total ass and terrible for bailing at the last minute to boot.

After I called my husband, the other director, C, came and sat with me in the lobby (comfortable chairs and a good view of the parking lot. My husband has never been there before and its difficult to get into the building after hours if you don’t know the protocol). The other director came up to see how I was doing once she got the role playing groups settled, and I apologized to both of them and then I did burst out into tears. Again, they were very reassuring and told me it was just important to take care of myself. And I know it’s unreasonable on my part, but it really FELT like I was doing something totally horrible by not being able to follow through on training. C sat and listened to me and about ten minutes in I realize I am pretty much babbling. I stopped and looked at her and said “you’re really good.” She smiled and told me we were actually a lot alike, to which I replied “oh that’s why you always catch me when I’m not practicing good self care.”

My husband arrived and we headed home (my car is still there) and I was falling apart between feeling like a failure and being scared that something was really wrong. It’s sounds silly to say it now, but I lost one of my dearest friends to a heart attack six years ago and guess what, she was six years older than me. So what’s running through my head is “OMG, am I going to have a heart attack at 53?” I did realize on the way home that my temperature had returned to normal. When I got home I took my blood pressure and while it was a bit elevated for me, it wasn’t anywhere near being too high. So I ended up looking up the symptoms of an anxiety attack and I had 9 out of 12 symptoms. I think I went into it already feeling tired and like I had to push and I think when L said we were going to do things differently, I just went over the edge.

I am feeling a lot shame (I know it’s not true, but the feelings are there) about “why am I overreacting so badly?” “There’s nothing here that I should have had an anxiety attack about” followed of course by the “when will I ever learn decent self-care? If I’m so anxious I’m developing anxiety attacks how much better can I be.” I also realized that, in the moment, despite the shame, it was really nice to have people fussing over me and being concerned. Then I felt ashamed for feeling that way. You know, that somehow I managed to cause all those physical symptoms because I’m a drama queen and an attention whore. Wash, rinse, repeat all of the terrible things you say to yourself about how slow you are, and how you really aren’t changing and things haven’t gotten any better. I suspect a lot of you already know this drill. I called BN this morning and he did remind me that my fear that things will only get worse if I let some things go is just the shame, so I’m trying to work on it. And again, typing this out lets me hear how very harsh I am being with myself.

I was really torn about writing this post, because I have not been available for anyone for what just feels like so long and I don’t know if I’ll even have the time or energy to answer any comments, but I also am recognizing that I am feeling really needy and I need to learn to let it be ok to say that. So I’m going to say thank you ahead of time to people for reading and/or commenting, I really appreciate any support anyone has to give and please forgive me for not responding to comments in case I am not able to.

Pushing the publish button is going to be hard, but here it goes!

  1. drgeraldstein
    September 13, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    One of the things I’ve discovered about getting older (and I’m significantly older than you) is the things one could take on as a younger person are no longer always possible. We have less energy, less stamina, less resilience to stress, etc. You might think of it as if I were talking about the career of a baseball pitcher. At 38 he can’t throw as hard as he did when he was 23. He has to learn to pace himself and to be more artful as a pitcher — less dependent on a youthful strength that is ebbing. Similarly, I remember driving more or less 18 hours straight to go from Chicago to Boston while in college. Those days are over. Becoming aware of one’s limits is a lifetime job. We never run out of the need to adapt. As awful as this was for you, it might eventually be seen as an important and positive turning point. Since I don’t know you, feel free to ignore all the above. In any case, best wishes.

    Like

    • September 14, 2014 at 9:43 pm

      Dr. Stein,
      Thank you so much for commenting and so swiftly! And I do believe that you hit the proverbial nail on the head. My mother-in-law always said that “getting old is not for sissies.'” πŸ™‚ I am learning the truth of that. I have finally been digging into issues around my body, especially self-care (which if I am honest, there has been a lot of improvement in my self-care over the years of my healing). A really important realization has been how much I hate having a body (always thought I was ashamed of the body I have, when in reality I am ashamed that I have one.) I think in your 20s and 30s, and even somewhat in your 40s, you can get away with pushing along ignoring your body because you can still take a lot of punishment. But its catching up to me now. Their is a frustration that as I am openly up emotionally to the fullness of life and a new found willingness to step out and risk, my energy and physical capabilities are shrinking. To quote George Bernard Shaw, “The trouble with youth is that it is wasted on the young.” (with apologies to my younger readers!) and Baz Lurhman “Take care of your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.” πŸ™‚ I really appreciated you seeing the positive in this episode, you have provided a lot of food for thought. (And ah, yes, the tolerance for road trips in college. πŸ™‚ ) Thank you again for taking the time to respond.

      ~ AG

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  2. little blond girl
    September 13, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    ((((AG)))) anxiety attacks are no fun (yea I’ve been there…on a plane no less with no escape). It does sound like you’ve got a whole lot on your plate and sometimes our bodies just need to remind us to stop. I understand the shame….but I’m sure that no one here thinks any less of you (I certainly don’t)….just take very good care of yourself.

    lbg (no need to respond).

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    • September 14, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      ((LBG)) Wow, would not want to do that on a plane!! Thank you for the kind words and support, I am so busy judging myself that it really helps to know that other people aren’t. πŸ™‚

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  3. Ms. Sharkey
    September 13, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{AG}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    I’ve had anxiety attacks and they’re awful. They feel exactly as you described. Last year, I revealed some very vulnerable stuff in therapy that triggered 3 months of anxiety attacks, followed by several months of daily anxiety that felt like it was always on the edge of spilling over into an attack. I know very well what it’s like to be anxious about being anxious. It’s a like being a snake that can’t stop eating its own tail. I’ve just been coming out of the anxiety fog within the past couple of months.

    I also know the feelings of shame. What I can tell you is that you’re not alone and that anxiety attacks are a sign that you’re taking too much one, trying too hard to be strong. Therapeutically, for me at least, it means there are deep needs and feelings that aren’t being acknowledged and talked about. Once I start being honest with myself about that, and start figuring out how to address those needs and air those feelings that feel so unacceptable, things start to get better.

    On a practical note, I know that I’m more prone to anxiety attacks if I’m physically uncomfortable. When I start to feel anxious, I focus on my body to see if I’m tired, too hot or cold, hungry or thirsty. Or if I really need to use the bathroom. πŸ˜‰ It it is one of those and I can address it, I often find the anxiety goes away. If the anxiety sticks around, I know it’s something mental/emotional that needs to be dealt with, but even then, focusing on my body and doing physical self-care usually keeps the anxiety at a manageable level.

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    • September 14, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      (((Ms. Sharkey))) I cannot imagine three months of that, one was enough thank you very much! But I must confess that it helps to know so many other people have experienced this (part of me just felt so weak for not handling the stress better). I also appreciate you sharing what they indicate to you. I have been conscious of taking on too much, and have been struggling with self-care and things just piled up. But you’e right in that I think I kept shoving my needs aside and it feels like my body just kind of stood up and said “STOP THAT.” To my credit I turned down two requests this weekend. πŸ™‚

      I will also keep in mind what you said about focusing on my body, I am working on learning to pay attention to it. Hard work after decades of trying to act like I didn’t have one. But it needs to be done. Thank you for responding so thoughtfully. xx AG

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  4. September 13, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I’ve only had one full blown anxiety attack and it was awful. I hope you can get the time now to rest physically and mentally. You probably know this, but you didn’t manufacture those symptoms.

    And I can see how dealing with all of those things together could prompt an attack, especially if you were really tired.

    I’ve gained 15 lbs this year and I need to start addressing my weight as well.

    Thank you for sharing and I hope you start feeling better. Hang in there. πŸ™‚

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    • September 14, 2014 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Judy,
      Thanks so much for your understanding and support, I am really touched that so many people responded so quickly and so kindly. I totally agree about the symptoms, I think I always thought of an anxiety attack as just having really intense feelings. And it wasn’t at all, it was about the denied feelings being expressed in a visceral way. Your nervous HAS to discharge that energy somehow. I talked to BN and he described it as my body telling me to slow down in no uncertain terms. xx AG

      Liked by 1 person

  5. September 13, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    I just thought I share this site. This therapist, Dr. Anne does audio interviews with everyday people and therapist on mental health topics as well as other hard to talk about topics. Her theme this series is anxiety and panic attacks. http://safespaceradio.com/

    I never had an panic attack but get anxiety so bad I will do anything to flee and then the shame gets turned onto myself in the form of self harm, bulimia and suicidal idealizations.

    So sorry you had to go through that.

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    • September 14, 2014 at 9:53 pm

      Hi LisaDiane,
      Welcome to my blog and thank you for commenting! I really appreciate the link, I took a quick look around and it looks like a great site. I am hoping to get a chance to really listen to some things, I think it will be really helpful. It was kind of you to post and share that. I am sorry that you understand this intense level of shame, it truly can be horrible. I wish you the best for your healing. ~ AG

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  6. September 13, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    ((((AG))))

    I’m so sorry you have so much on your plate, it is completely understandable that all of this would eventually have an effect on you. I’m even more sorry that it’s generating so much shame. I can relate very much to all of your feelings here, and when you said ‘you know the drill’ I was thinking to myself ‘I definitely do!’ I know this will be little consolation at the moment, but you have nothing at all to be ashamed of.

    You have shown a ridiculous amount of strength to have done as much as you’ve done! I could not manage a fraction of the responsibilities you’ve taken on, seriously. I know it is massively difficult when your body’s limitations become evident though. One of my good friends likes to say “my mind can still write the checks, but my body can’t cash them right now” and while I smile at the humorous wording of that statement, I know underneath it is a lot of frustration and embarrassment of someone being confronted with their own humanity.

    But I think the metaphor actually is a good one, because the ‘bank account’ your body pulls from is the amount of self care you practice and care from others you allow in. And I will say this, if anyone is deserving of receiving love and support it’s you. You have selflessly made the time to offer up support to so many, even though your life has been so chaotic. Now it’s your turn to be supported πŸ™‚ I hope you will treat yourself now with the compassion you have given to so many other people, even if it feels shameful to do so. You do deserve it.

    xxxxx Love and big hugs xxxxx

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    • September 14, 2014 at 9:58 pm

      (((AH)))Thank you so much. I especially appreciated you saying all this since I know you are facing your own difficulties right now. Thanks for taking the time to reach out to me. Love the line about the checks, it’s a great description! And you’re right, I think part of what makes this so hard is I am being confronted with my own humanity. Accepting my own humanity is a very new, tender skill for me (and there’s obviously room for growth! πŸ™‚ ) I find the limitations difficult to deal with. My world has opened up so much in the last few years and there are so many things I want to do, but its just not possible to do it all. And this was a strong indicator I need to pay more attention.

      It means so much to have everyone respond so swiftly to my asking for support. BN always says the solution to shame is to speak anyway. Having so many people share their own experiences and be so clear that there is no need for shame helps so much. xx AG

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  7. September 13, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Just reading how much you have on the go gave me anxiety. πŸ™‚ It does sound like some more boundary setting is in order. I hope you’re feeling calmer soon.

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    • September 14, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      (((Ellen)) Sorry to cause you anxiety. πŸ˜€ But seriously, it helps to know that it sounds like a lot to other people, you know? I really can feel like I am somehow just overreacting or being lazy so the feedback helps me to have a more realistic view. I spent a quiet weekend just getting my house caught back up (luckily I find ironing very soothing) and I’m feeling calmer. The trick will be staying that way. πŸ™‚ Thank you for the support. xx AG

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  8. liz
    September 13, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    I had continuous panic attacks for almost two years, and it was probably the worst time of my life, so I feel your pain, and shame, and everything you wrote about in your post, and I hug you and send you all my support.
    I also realize now for the first time that you never really talked about anxiety here, so I assume you do not usually have any kind of panic disorder. And it seems you were going through a really stressful period and you were not feeling well physically, so it is perfectly normal to have a panic attack (do not take this the wrong way, but I was sincerely surprised by the fact that you got to 53 without ever having one! I literally do not know anyone who has never had at least one at some point). What I mean is: be gentle with yourself (which is probably the same thing your body is trying to tell you by giving you panic attacks), you are allowed to be weak and stressed out and tired every once in a while, and you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.
    I hope you’ll be feeling better soon πŸ™‚

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    • September 14, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      (((Liz)))
      You know I have to admit it really caught me off guard. I really have never had one before. It’s funny because while I have dealt with a tremendous amount of fear in therapy, I’ve never been very anxious, if that makes any sense. I remember once telling BN that it felt like fear was woven into the air and water and food it was so pervasive. He once described my life as trying to go to school and learn and get good grades all while knowing there was a sniper in the building. So in some ways, I think anxiety has been a background noise rather than something invasive. And/or I have done such a good job of ignoring my body that I been pushing the anxiety away for a long time. Thinking back I do realize that I experienced a strong fear reaction when L said we were changing things up and my internal reaction was to just keep pushing it away because I had to do this. Evidently my body was NOT on board with that strategy. I felt really hijacked. I have a newfound respect for people who deal with this all the time. And thank you for the reminder to give myself permission to be weak and stressed and tired. I really needed to hear that. I called BN on Saturday morning and it was a strange call because I didn’t feel better during the call, but started calming down afterwards. Every once in a while a lot of strong feelings were welling up and I just didn’t fight them. So I spent a fair amount of time on Saturday sitting down and crying for a few minutes here and there, but it helped to just stop fighting it. Thanks for being there! xx AG

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  9. September 13, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    AG
    Thank you for being so brave.
    One of the countless gems i treasure that I’ve learned from your incredibly generous efforts here, is that the act of speaking about our most tender and stressful experiences difuses shame’s power. Many times this has saved me.
    You are truly an incredible person, who offers and provides nurturing, respectful and hopeful assistance to countless people in serious need. I, for one, am sincerely grateful.
    I am reluctant to ever reply, as I have many insecurities and am quite introverted. In this case, I too will risk placing my input here, because this is too important to forego. I feel so grateful for rhe help you have provided me, I want to send you a bounty of support. I believe there are innumerable others like me who, if we form a fan club, could easily fill a bongo huge stadium. I like one of the quotes on your blog. It has the sentiment of borrowing hope when one is lacking. This, this time now, AG… Let us give you support, love and respectful understanding, similar to all that that you give us so thoughtfully and wonderfully.

    I marvel at the human mind and body. I recall one of your posts regarding the question of the body’s utility. Although we may struggle with why, I continue to be awestruck at it’s design features. The invisible but incredibly powerful, insistent …and Loud! alarm system could put any other manmade technology to shame. Maybe that could be am applicable place for shame…
    But shame has no legitimate case, space, or basis for you or your experience here.
    Please accept the warmest wishes from this fan.. One who you have helped immensely.
    So, here i go.. Not without hesitation or fear, but with inspiration and hope… To hit the button

    Like

    • September 14, 2014 at 10:13 pm

      (((Ancora))) I have no words to express how much it meant to me to read your comment. It moved me to the best kind of tears. I so appreciate your courage in reaching out to me despite how scary it felt for you. And the reflection of myself you gave to me was a very powerful antidote to the shame I was feeling. Thank you so very much, it means so much to me to know that I have helped others to heal. But also that they know I am human and are willing to help me. I am overcome by everyone’s generous response. I hope that this is not the last time to take the risk to speak. πŸ™‚ xx AG

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  10. September 13, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    About a year ago, I experienced a total system crash, and I don’t mean on my computer. For years, I put far too many demands upon myself. I worked 2 part-time jobs while going to college full-time, holding a 3.9 GPA, still living with my dysfunctional family and volunteering at church. Then I got married, my husband joined the Navy, and we made 2 out-of-state moves in under 2 years, one while I was sick and 7 months pregnant. Stress just piled up year after year. The last straw came last year when my parents divorced. The mental fallout was so bad that I seriously considered checking into a hospital.

    I’m recovering in therapy, but my ability to return to my college days of energy and productivity is shot. My body just won’t allow it. I have to make tough choices as to what gets accomplished every day. When a new obligation pops up, something else gets dropped. I’m being forced into self care. And I’m 31.

    Endlessly giving is no way to live. You’re not damaging people by saying “I need help” or “I can’t do this.” A point will come where you won’t be able to help anyone until you help yourself…and it won’t be your choice. You don’t want to end up there.

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    • September 14, 2014 at 10:16 pm

      April,
      Thanks so much, I appreciate your openness and honesty about your own experience and I do want you to know I am taking what you said very much to heart. I have been working on boundaries and self-care for a long time, but it’s a long up hill battle when you were taught about neither as a child. Which makes me even more grateful that I am getting such clear reflections that no one has the ability to just continually give and not have times when they are not available. BN told me at our last session, that one of my deepest fears is that I make it all about me, but he told me that sometimes it IS about me and I am not doing anything wrong to make it about me at times. When you hear so many people saying the same thing, it’s kind of a clue that there’s a truth in what is being said. πŸ™‚ AG

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  11. susa
    September 14, 2014 at 1:39 am

    AG, I’ve only ever been an appreciative reader on your site but your post compels me to write and say that I am sending you a big cyber-hug and wishes for deep peace. Thank you for giving so graciously of yourself to others. Now is a season where they can joyfully give to you. As GWNI says so well, I hope you’ll be kind to yourself.

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    • September 14, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Susa,
      Welcome and thank you for making this the occasion for your first comment. I think it was worth facing the shame just to bring a few of you out into the open. πŸ™‚ Thank you so much for your support, I really am grateful that you took the time to respond. I also hope this is not the last time I hear from you! ~ AG

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  12. Jay
    September 14, 2014 at 3:55 am

    So glad to see the support of the blogging community wrapping itself around you like a comforting blanket stitched together with compassion… The people who share their stories here to continue to amaze me. Thank you for always being so open about your experiences AG. It sounds like you’ve really been through the wars lately. In fact, your body was probably inspired by the actions of your failing computer! It decided to send out a warning flare so you could send a technician in and give it some kind and loving attention.

    Let me just re-iterate what has been said here and say that you did what you needed to do and what felt right in the moment, which was to be there for others and make meaningful contributions. Take care xx

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    • September 14, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      Jay,
      What an awesome and apt description: “comforting blanket stitched together with compassion.” That’s exactly what its felt like. I have drawn comfort and strength from everyone’s comments. Thank you for being so understanding. And I also love the analogy between my computer and my body. I think I’m better with computer hardware. LOL. xx AG

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  13. Pop
    September 14, 2014 at 4:42 am

    I was also surprised to hear you’d never experienced a panic attack before. It just goes to show how much we assume everybody else’s experience and suffering are like our own. Panic and anxiety suck. But, breakdown is always breakTHROUGH – a defence mechanism giving way. My therapist sees it as necessary. This may be of little consolation as I know all too well not much seems to work when you’re in that state other than acceptance. I hope you feel better soon, take care of yourself xx

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    • September 14, 2014 at 10:30 pm

      Pop,
      Weirdly enough, everyone’s surprise is kind of comforting. Instead of feeling ashamed about having an anxiety attack, now its more about “hey, I managed not to do this all this time.” LOL But seriously, there wasn’t much choice involved, but it helps to know that other people have been through this and understand. Your comment about a breakdown being a breakthrough echoes what Dr. Stein said. I think its right. I think hitting that point where I realized I just could NOT push through and needed to ask for help was an important one. I am very blessed in that I was surrounded by caring, compassionate people whose response was to treat me with concern and care. It turned something that felt impossible into something that I could do. Thank you for your support. xx AG

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  14. Ann
    September 14, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    AG, I totally agree with Dr. G! As we get older, our minds and bodies can not take the stress it could when we were younger!!! For some people, It is so hard to slow down, take care of ourselves and allow ourselves to adapt to change! (However, I am on the lazy side, so I like rest!).
    I am sorry you had to experience this panic, but I do think our bodies sometimes send us signals to pay attention! I have felt really cranky for several months. I kind of knew what it was, but wanted to avoid reality. I finally had my blood sugar checked and my A1C was 8.2. For those who don’t know about diabetes, this number means that if not lowered it can lead to all type of nasty stuff like blindness, neuropathy etc. I can either feel sorry for myself (which I prefer) or get to work and pay attention to my body’s needs. No more grabbing crackers for lunch, drinking lots of water, new meds and what my lazy butt hates daily exercise. So now I find time to walk everyday and write down all my food. There are no guarantees in life, but I know I am prolonging my life. To do this I have to be “selfish” and say no to others, even when I would like to help.
    You sound so much like me. Take care of everyone else’s needs before your own! Always be exceptional! It is selfish to say no! I have no value unless I am helping everyone else! I will feel guilty if I disappoint person x,y or z! But they need ME! Etc. etc. etc!! What a vicious cycle we get stuck until-whoops, something breaks down. Mind, body, soul, emotions or all of the above start cracking until life feels impossible and death seems like a blessed relief.
    I am thankful that you have some safety nets like Paul and your husband! You also have a lot of internal resources which you have shared with us. AG, you are a precious woman whose value has been established since birth. You don’t need to do anything to make yourself anymore valuable, loved, beautiful, appreciated or wanted! Remember, you will disappoint others, make mistakes, do selfish things, and fail at times. That doesn’t take away from your value. Sorry for the lecture, but I want (selfishly) for you to find your peace. And when you do, you can share some with me! πŸ™‚ Obviously, by all the responses, you have built a network of people who love and respect you. Accept this gift. It comes with no strings attached.
    You have been gifted with specific talents that you are willing to share with others. Why you? Why now? Who knows? (Well maybe God) :-). No one can ever take that away from you. Whether you have one reader or one million. Don’t pressure yourself to respond. I hope you can rest in the love expressed by all your readers. Let this help you to reassess what your priorities are now to help you continue healing. Now is the time to be selfish and allow others to support you in your journey!!! I love you! Ann

    Like

    • September 14, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Ann,
      For someone who has not met me in the flesh, you know me really well! “Take care of everyone else’s needs before your own! Always be exceptional! It is selfish to say no! I have no value unless I am helping everyone else! I will feel guilty if I disappoint person x,y or z! But they need ME! Etc. etc. etc!! ” is a fairly accurate description of my thinking (although I am not nearly as selfless as some people seem to think I am, I have more than my fair share of selfish and lazy moments). But that pressure to always be performing or useful is a leftover from childhood, the lingering false belief that my worth is based on what I do. So thank you for the reminder that my worth is intrinsic and not based on what I do. So I am working to accept the very rich gift of love and respect I am being given here.

      I am glad to hear that you are taking better care of yourself, I hope you’re blood sugar is coming down. I want you to take good care of yourself also as I need my bestest cheerleader. πŸ™‚ Thank you for your unfailing support. And I love you too! xx AG

      Like

  15. muff
    September 14, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Maybe it’s time to back off from the demands you have put on yourself Mrs AG. The world is gonna spin without you πŸ™‚

    Chill, and sort out where you really want to go with the demands of so many others.

    Like

    • September 14, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      Muff,
      Ha! You may have put your finger on it Muff, maybe I’m not all that happy that the world will spin without me. After all, if I’m not necessary than will I be wanted? If I’m not needed, then I need to trust people to care about me because it’s freely given gift which I can’t control. And trusting people still does not come easily… . But Lord knows, accepting that truth would take off a lot of pressure, wouldn’t it? πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the support, it’s good to hear from you as always! xx AG

      Like

  16. September 15, 2014 at 12:10 am

    Hi AG,

    Just wanted to chime in. Been there. Done that. I have had many panic attacks, two led me to the hospital because I seriously thought I was having a heart attack or a stroke. I had no idea what was happening with my body. Now, I have learned what they are and how they feel and they have subsided over time. I have learned that THEY. WILL. PASS. This has been the most valuable thing for me to keep in my mind when I feel them start up. I try to remember that nothing bad has actually ever come to pass, they are just uncomfortable.

    That said, I still sometimes don’t realize what is happening until I clue in and think: “Oh, I’m having a panic attack.” Then I have learned to orient to the world around me, feel grounded, etc. This is not perfect and I am still a work in progress, but I have learned that these occur the most when I am regressed and feeling particularly vulnerable. During these times I have also learned to take care of myself. I use whatever coping strategy works for me to comfort myself. I say no to things that I know are “outside my comfort zone”. I have learned that my “comfort zone” is much smaller than other people’s but you know what? That’s what happens when you are severely abused; you have a smaller comfort zone. It sucks, but that is what it is. I say this because, at times, it makes my life more limited and there can be shame in this, when you live in a world where it’s all about doing, doing, doing.

    The limits I push and the places I go in therapy and in the work I do to recover from trauma, I have always thought, constitute some of the bravest and most difficult work that anyone can do. So there. And you do too. So take care of yourself and know that you are incredibly brave and courageous. So much so, that you have written in depth about the horrific abuse of your childhood and the sometimes tortuous process of recovery (which has been of enormous benefit to so many others). So brave and courageous that in the wake of your first majorly, debilitating anxiety attack, you wrote about it on your blog. Really amazing. I would still be in bed with a bag of potato chips (one of my “go-to” panic attack strategies) ;).

    DBS

    Like

  17. Ann
    September 15, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    AG, You aren’t suppose to respond! πŸ™‚ But I always love to hear your voice! So– my professional, APA approved and clinically tested perscription is: Check into a spa, “unplug” your phone, get all the room service you want, drink all those little bottles of booze in the mini-fridge, watch movies, arrange to get all your spa services done in your room (preferably by a young handsome fireman), and I am sure for a small charge, Paul can come and enjoy the services while listening to you decompress. The best part of my plan– send the bill to your parents and/or kids!!!! The bad part is eventually returning to the real world. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  18. GreenEyes
    September 15, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Big hug AG. Learning to be comfortable with our needs and being vulnerable with others without feeling crushing shame and tirades of self-criticism is a tough job. Like my T says (and I concur), being sensitive and vulnerable is a sign of enormous strength not the other way around. There is beauty in all parts of us. Take care xxx

    Like

  19. Pop
    September 17, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Hope you’re doing ok AG, anxiety like that can really rock you to your core. And like I said, from my personal experience it usually means something important is trying to make itself heard. This is something I’m currently going through and keep wondering how you are feeling too xx

    Like

  20. happylou
    September 19, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Sorry to hear you experienced this, AG. I suffered several attacks when things were at their worst and, in the moment, I was convinced I was going to die. Thankfully, it passes. Take care of yourself, slow down, listen to and honour your body’s needs and don’t feel one bit of guilt or shame for having an attack. If it were within our power to control, no one would voluntarily suffer through one. So glad you reached out here to bravely share your experience and get support. Thinking of you and wishing you peace and love. Take care.

    Like

  21. September 27, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Just letting you know that I’m thinking about you.

    Like

  22. Happylou
    October 5, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Thinking of you, AG. Hope all is well.

    Like

  23. LJB
    October 5, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Wow AG…so sorry to hear about your panic attack. I had never experienced one either until I came completely “undone” in therapy with my current therapist. Now, I’m afraid to go “to deep” into my struggles with past trauma because I’m so anxious about becomeing anxious and having a panic attack! My therapist tells me that it’s okay if I have one….but YOU know how it makes you feel. It’s NOT okay! And then things began to trigger me into having one…even simple things like taking an elevator. (I usually take the elevator up to his office for my sessions, but I started using the stairs–AVOIDANCE!) It also affected me in going into an MRI machine and something as simple as sitting in a booth at the local Olive Garden. So now, my fear in therapy is diving into a panic attack and totally losing it and feeling like a failure in front of him. (He is the best at helping one work through a panic attack with a calm, soothing voice, suggestions, explanations, breathing techniques, etc.)

    Since I’ve experienced these, I, like you, think very differently about anxiety and how it affects different individuals. I finally got on some medication and it has calmed down my anxiety, so it has been helpful.

    Wishing you well. Take good care.

    LJB

    Like

  24. Marree Bruce
    October 26, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    we were always good enough.

    Like

    • October 30, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      Marree,
      We most certainly were. Our problem came from not knowing it. So it can’t be said enough times now. We were always good enough. xx AG

      Like

  25. Ann
    October 26, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Where’s AG?

    Like

  26. November 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    AG, You are such a delight to me! I hope you don’t mind that I had to chuckle several times while reading, as that villain of people pleasing does SUCH awful things to us! I love that you shared this experience, and I’m sure most of us have been exactly there too – I thought I was having the heart attack and everything. What I love most about you writing this post though, was what it did for you – as you wrote you could see more clearly the need to take care of you. I hope you keep doing so! ❀ Christine

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