Panic After Dark: Can You Manage Panic By Yourself?
The other day, I wrote about how I woke up in the middle of the night at about 3:50 am. My left leg was completely numb — and, amusingly, the full-blown panic attack that followed did not begin as I was limping around my living room with a pins-and-needles leg. The panic only started after my leg had returned to normal.
In my last post, I explained how the panic rose (and so did my subjective temperature!). I left off here: there I lay, on my kitchen floor, with cold and clammy skin and a paralyzing fear of losing consciousness. Was it low blood sugar? Was it some other frightening medical problem? Or was it just panic?
Just thinking about the prospect of possibly passing out after not being able to bring my blood sugar up (and was it even blood sugar problem? I’ll never know; it was only a guess, anyway) convinced me to run to the bathroom, full speed, in case of vomit. I collapsed on the bathroom floor, shaking, feeling only mildly safer to be positioned in front of an acceptable vomit-receptacle. You know, just in case. Just in case.
But of course, I’d left my ice pack in the kitchen…and, the baseboard heater was chugging along, right next to the toilet. The heat was unbearable. It took all my strength to lift myself off of the floor, burst into the bedroom, fall onto the bed, and ask my husband for help.
Why didn’t I ask for help to begin with? Well, see, that’s the thing about panic attacks: I want to be able to “come down” from them myself. If I always rely on my husband, or a friend, or someone else, then what happens when I’m driving in my car all alone on a country road and begin to panic in an area with no cell phone reception? If I’m used to relying on someone else to calm me down, I’m screwed.
If I can rely on myself, then I can probably cope no matter what the circumstance. Right?
That’s my ultimate goal: to be able to manage panic by myself, without outside help, be it human or pharmaceutical. The power is inside of me, somewhere. I just need to find it.
I couldn’t find it last night. My husband rushed up and dutifully fulfilled my breathless requests: get my glucose tablets. Bring my ice pack. Find my Xanax. Help me to the bathroom floor. Sit with me. Rub my back if I puke. Let me bury my face in that space between your neck and your shoulder. Talk to me about something trivial. Tell me I’ll be okay.
I love him beyond words. I am crying as I type this.
Perhaps I can’t yet manage panic by myself, but I am trying. I feel extraordinarily grateful to have a life partner who is willing to go through this shit — and it is shit, really — right alongside of me. Alongside of me during the good times and alongside of me on the bathroom floor at 4:25 a.m.
Bleary-eyed, he held my hand and tried to tell me about his quickly-fading dreams about living in Asia — or was it leading Asia? Something about meeting Kim Jong Un and playing table tennis with him.
I laughed. And soon, I became cooler. My heart rate slowed down. The nausea subsided.
And before drifting off into a Xanax-fueled sleep in my bed? Well, I reasoned, at least tomorrow’s ‘Panic About Anxiety’ blog post just wrote itself.
I suppose there is an upside to everything.
Beretsky, S. (2012). Panic After Dark: Can You Manage Panic By Yourself?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/panic/2012/11/panic-after-dark-can-you-manage-panic-by-yourself/