My 25-year-old friend can’t be dead. He just watched a movie. People who just watched a movie and posted about it on Facebook can’t die. No. No no no no no.
(Note: this post is part of a series about navigating my way through the 10 Rules for Coping with Panic, which is a nifty little list I keep in my wallet. To read the introduction to this series, check out this post: Coping with Panic: Why I Can’t, and Why I Can.)
THE NINTH RULE
Plan what to do next. When you begin to feel better, look around you and start to plan what to do next.
This time, I’m not going to describe why this step might be difficult or easy. I think those things are obvious.
But here’s what I will say: scale.
Yup. Scale. Think about this rule in varying scales.
You panic on a Monday afternoon. You get through Rules #1-8. You approach Rule #9 and you plan what to do next: you calculate your moves. You determine how and when to stand up. You decide that soon, you’ll get back into your car.
You decide — but don’t yet act — to walk back into the mall or grocery store. Using the brain that so misled you earlier on Monday during the midst of the attack, you plan to return to the scene of the panic attack.
That works, right? It does. It works on a small scale. It works when we view panic as an acute instance that rises and resolves itself within the hour.
But let’s say you’re making some major progress in your recovery from panic disorder. Your life was hell a few months ago, but now, you’re managing through many aspects of daily life with greater ease. Rule #9, then, tells us that it’s time to reflect. You’ve begun to feel better, yes, but in a larger way this time.
Plan what to do next — not in the next hour, but in the next month. In the next year. Are you where you want to …
We need to play an active role in our own treatment. We can’t just close our eyes and let our doctors make the decisions that will affect our bodies.
Part of the beauty of books and notebooks is this: we use them. We use them up. We crumple them, we write in or on them, and we make them ours.
I want to create a truce with caffeine. I want to recognize that my body’s reactions to this drug are completely normal. I want to train myself to be comfortable with caffeine again.
Has anyone ever accused you of malingering — that is, faking sick? It’s all too common for those of us with illnesses that can’t easily be detected by the untrained everyman.
Caffeine is an unavoidable drug, and I don’t want to fear it. I don’t want the buzzy sensation I feel when I take the migraine meds to create a fertile breeding ground for panic.
If you had a rough work week, perhaps you’re exhausted. And I’d love to know something about your exhaustion: do you treat it with sleep or with caffeine?
Adrenaline is not my friend. I don’t search for it. And when it finds me accidentally, I usually tell it to shut up.