Even the tiniest baby steps can keep that dreaded circle of safety from closing in on you.
That’s where I gave up. If I couldn’t even check the mail without Xanax, I couldn’t survive day-to-day life with a fetus swimming around in my uterus. Would it drown in my adrenaline?
Elementary school math: you start with the basics, and only challenge yourself further once you’ve mastered a level. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Why should approaching anxiety and phobias be any different?
We collapsed the camping tent and, immediately, my symbolic safe space had been rolled up into a bag. Enter the nausea.
The mall wasn’t open yet and the door was still locked. Laughing, I realized that I’d never had this problem before. I’m never early for anything.
“If you don’t like Celexa, you don’t have to continue taking it,” my doctor said. Yeah, I thought. I’ve heard that story before.
“I think you’d feel much better if you tried some medication other than Xanax,” he said. His concern was genuine. “Instead of treating your panic as it happens, we should try to prevent it.”
The scene: a small road off of a two-lane state highway in the woods. The cell phone coverage: first none, then a single bar. My panic state: full blown.
I was laying down in my car, following the EMT-in-training’s instructions to avoid sitting up or moving around, and I was scared nearly to death. I shook, I gasped for air, and I palpitated.
I hated every single second that slowly and dreadfully crawled by. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t even conjure up the energy or the clarity of mind to reach for my Ten Rules for Coping With Panic worksheet that lives in my wallet. I was in the middle of nowhere, I was stuck, and I couldn’t escape without help. Not only was I about to receive medical help, but I’d had to call my husband and ask him to drive 40 miles to be with me.
The word kept repeating in my head: failure failure failure.
Maybe I am having a legitimate medical problem instead of a panic attack. Maybe there’s a problem with my heart or my blood pressure. Maybe there’s a problem with my brain. Did I have a stroke? Maybe I’m having a stroke RIGHT NOW OH GOD WHAT THE HELL.
When your limbs are shaking uncontrollably, the gas pedal is a nightmare to control. My car heaved in fits and starts, thanks to my spasmodic right foot, but I didn’t make it far before I started to feel very cold and prickly.