Monday, May 17, 2010

Panic attacks..

Panic attack has been described as an episode of incredibly intense fear or apprehension that is of sudden onset.[1] The DSM-IV describes a panic attack as a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort in which (at least 4 of 13) symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within 10 minutes.

This is the description listed in Wikopedia....let me tell you...
People will say it is all in your head.....you should be able to control it,
but if you have ever suffered with one...it would change your mind.

I really struggled with whether or not I should share this,
People who suffer with Panic attacks often feel like freaks,
or feel that there is something wrong with them...
So I just want to let you know..
It is OK..there are others of us out there.
We are normal people...
and it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you as a person.

My first experience with panic attacks began just after I had my first daughter Krystal...
I was in a n unstable relationship,
and my boy friend at that time had allowed some crack dealers
he had met on the street to come and spend the night with us in our tiny one bedroom basement suite.
I was understandably unhappy with the situation...having a tiny baby at home at the time..
and afraid of these strangers who my boyfriend had invited home..
I finally went to bed, but was awakened in the middle of the night by a racing heart,
Pain in my chest, and not able to breath..
I thought I was having a heart attack.
Being the stubborn/ independent silly girl I was,
I jumped in the car and drove myself to the nearest Emergancy.
By the time I got there of course, the attack had passed,
and they could find nothing wrong with me.


In the years that continued..
I would often have similar attacks...all of which were gone
by the time I went into the hospital.
I cut back on the caffeine- which probably helped
since I was drinking a pot of coffee a day to myself...
and after I quit smoking and doing drugs, I also noticed a marked difference.


My last bad episode happened in a shopping market .
We (I was married now to a wonderful man to whom I am still married)
had been having some money problems..and living off of not much..
and when I saw how full my cart was I just panicked...
I could feel the all to familiar symptoms coming on...
All I can remember thinking was "How am I going to pay for all this..."
I left the full cart in the store, and walked away...thinking
This is the last time I am going to allow this to control my life....
(And it was the last time for a long time...)

 (My profound apologies to who ever had to put away all those groceries...
and not to be mixed up with the time my husband and I were shopping,
dropped a bottle of jam on the floor where it shattered...
looked at each other and ran away laughing....)
Same store by the way....

I spent some quality time with God, asking him how to get control of my finances...
and my mind....
I practiced relaxation methods, and deep breathing...
I stayed away from triggers that would set me off..
and I prayed when I had to go into uncomfortable situations...

Which...brings me to this weekend,
when I had my first serious attack for the first time in 10 years.

I should have paid attention to my own warning bells...
I am not good in crowds...especially when I am alone..
(trigger 1)
I am shy...although you would never know it to talk to me..
(trigger 2)
and my car was acting up on the way to my location
(trigger 3) worrying about money.....

We just started going to a new church in Jan...and I have not really met many people yet..
We have some family members there,
and I have talked to a couple of people,
Everyone has been very nice..
It is a Great church...and we love it...
but it is VERY BIG compared to what I am used to...

The whole point to me mentioning that is..
that I decided I was going to go to their woman's breakfast...
BUT when I went in..I was shocked to find that there was 150 women there...
and that all the tables were full...
and that I only recognized maybe two faces..
THAT after driving there, and having car trouble on the way...
I went in anyways...feeling shaky..walked up to a table of older women
and asked if I could sit down..
Only to receive maybe not the warmest reception ever...
In fact... I wasn't sure I was really welcome...
I sat down...and the women went back to talking to each other...
Another girl I recognized  from mom's group sat down and started talking to her mom...
and maybe didn't recongnize me..
and I thought...
"How can I possibly sit here with these woman for the next two hours...
with no one to talk to..and eat with them. Where am I supposed to look?"
Start of attack...
I lasted about three more minutes before I started to shake and cry...
and slipped out to the bathroom before anyone could see there was anything wrong with me...
It took me about 20 minutes to calm down
and I finally decided that I needed to get control of this thing...
and not let it run me...
So....back into the room I went...
and snuck back behind the coffee pot, with the pretense of getting a coffee...
The problem is that by now...the table I had been at...had given away my chair..
and all the tables were up and down getting food...
I had no way of knowing if there was anywhere to sit..
and I was feeling more and more self concious all the time...

Finally one of the pastors wives came up and asked me if she could help me find some place to sit..
and NO WARNING...
I started hyperventilating and crying...and backed into a storage room..
fortunately right behind me...
By now, there are two woman in there with me..
and I am feeling like an idiot...BUT
I couldn't stop crying or hyperventilating ...
I FELT SOOO STUPID.
Both of these very kind ladies prayed and prayed the peace of Jesus over me
until I finally started to settle down,
and one of them told me she was accustomed to panic attacks,
as apparently she has a friend who gets them...
but I have always managed to not have them visibly...

So......Great way to introduce myself to a couple of ladies in the church..
HI! My name is Robyn...and I hyperventilate and cry when nervous...
I don't recommend it as a way to make a great first impression...

so back to the drawing board...
apparently you can always have relapses...

Back to committing myself to prayer in this area..
and back to watching my trigger points.
I will NOT allow them to control me or my life...
Jesus is bigger then all my problems...
He is Lord over all...including my fears.
There is no fear in love.

And for those of you out there who have panic attacks..
I just want to let you know there are others of us this happens to...
It is scary...but that is ok.
We are normal people..stuff happens...
and that is ok too.
If you want prayer I can do that for you as well.
We are all in this together...
God is a God of compassion, and he will help.
I believe that fully.

God did do something for me that day...
My 18 month old girl lost her little bear a while ago,
and she has been very upset about it..
Well....
Guess where it was?
If you said in that storage room
where I had my attack? You would be right....LOL!
See...God does care about the little things..
She was so happy to see "bear bear" that she kissed him for the next half hour...

Now...I want interaction people...
I bared a little bit of my soul with you...
now I want some back...
my question to  you is this..
Have you ever had a panic attack?
If so...how often...
How do you control yours?

I think it helps others to know your out there...

6 comments:

Esther said...

I've never had a panic attack - at least not as severe as you've described here - but I can totally relate to the self-consciousness you felt at the women's breakfast. I've been in situations like that, where you don't really know anybody and nobody steps up to make you feel welcome, and I hate it. I would want to leave and never bother with those ladies again. I am so glad you met those nice ladies who prayed for you. I had tears in my eyes while reading this.

Robyn Jones said...

aww thanks Esther for your kind words.....It was pretty uncomfortable...but I am pretty sure they didn't mean any harm...Most of the people in that church are really great people...unfortunately people are people where ever we go right?

jackie said...

I don't know if mine would be considered panic attacks (although my doctor seems to think so), but I used to get them a lot while I was in college years ago. Usually I would get really shaky, numbness in my arms, clammy hands, and I just got really scared. The worst one happened 2 years ago. In addition to the above, I felt numbness on my face, and shortness of breath. That scared me really bad so I went to the ER, but of course, it went away by the time I got there.

I noticed that I get like this with caffeine as well. I try to cut back, but it's hard. When I start getting this feeling, I just try my very best to relax, but it's easier said than done.

Oh, and I am probably the shyest person anyone will ever meet. I too am uncomfortable when faced with having to meet new people, and although I get anxious, I don't let that get to me as much.

Louise said...

I don't get panic attacks but I'm super shy in new or uncomfortable surroundings! My nervousness 'shows up' by having to pee lots or feeling nauseous!
Hope you start to feel loved and a sense of belonging - they are great people and I know many of them from camp. You could always just come back to your former church - they had a women's breakfast on the same day ;)

Peggy said...

Oh Bless your heart for sharing that!
I don't have panic attacks,but when I started menopause a a few+ years ago, I did get heart palpulations and felt very panicky when I would have to speak in front of crowds; something that had never bothered me before. That then led to hot flashes which are impossible to cover up when your face gets beet red! Yikes!!
However,I do know a number of people who do have panic attacks--(some brought on by menopause and the messed up hormone levels)and I do my best to help them out when I see it may be coming.
I too, hate walking into rooms where I don't know anyone, NOT fun.
I am so impressed that you use prayer to help get through it--that is the calming effect that you need as he wraps his arms around you:)
I am SO proud of you for sharing--it is good to get it out there for others to understand better. Hugs:)

Skittles said...

You know I have an ongoing struggle with panic attacks. I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes it's enough.. knowing that someone else understands. {{{hugs}}}