Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Tale of the Giant Panic Attack

As promised yesterday, I will tell you about my Sunday evening, which is when the Giant Panic Attack occurred.

First of all, I should tell you that I have a small history of panic attacks. Like the time that I showed up for class (after having taken a sudafed and having drunk a large coffee) and the teacher started passing out the EXAM! That I had forgotten about. I promptly passed out. After I woke up (about 3 seconds later) I couldn't breath, I was white as a ghost, and I was pretty sure my heart was going to pound out of my chest. Let me just say, in case you were wondering, that it is not fun in the least to have a panic attack. There have been other instances (like the top of the Sears Tower, or other stressful situations), but none so dangerous as the attack that happened Sunday evening.

Sunday started out crappily enough. I woke up at 2:30 in the morning after having a bad dream (I dreamt that a foreign exchange student I knew in high school stabbed Aaron in the gut and he was dying. It was a really bad dream. No more eating so close to bed time.) and I couldn't get back to sleep until about 4. Then I slept until 6, at which point I had another weird-ass dream (about a friend who gave birth to a baby who looked EXACTLY like her) and was awake for the rest of the morning. So I started the day with about 4 hours of sleep.

After that it was a good day. I made breakfast, got ready, and headed north to see my sister because it was her birthday. Aaron stayed home because he had some things to do around the house, like watching football, so I was on my own. I had a great time with my sister, she loved her presents, and she dragged on forever before deciding it was time to go out to eat. I was hoping to get to drive home before dark, but no such luck. I did have a great time, and was happy to get to spend a lot of time with her, but I really don't like driving after dark.

Also, I'm still a little paranoid about driving my car. The whole accident thing messed me up a little, and so I'm not the most confident driver out there on the road.

So, about 5 miles into my drive home, I started feeling light-headed, my pulse started racing and I couldn't breath. Luckily I was at an exit, because I thought I was going to pass out on the freeway, which freaked me out even more.

I went into a gas station, bought some water and tissues (because I was crying - I was really freaked out) and sat in my car for a while trying to calm down.

When I got back on the road, I called a friend to help pass the time, but I was still feeling dizzy and kind of nauseous the whole way home. It was not fun, and I don't think I'll be driving on the freeway after dark again any time soon. The thought of passing out while driving kept me aware of what was going on, but also freaked me the hell out. I avoided driving most of the day yesterday, and I will be avoiding freeways for a while as well (especially the one I should drive on today, which is where I had my accident, so I'm taking the back roads instead).

I know it's a little crazy of me to not want to drive on the freeway, but once bitten....

I'm okay with my craziness.


At 1/17/2006 9:03 AM, Anonymous Jenna said...

I am so sorry! I can relate to you! I have a real hard time falling asleep at night and have mini panic attacks sometimes... they are no fun!

At 1/17/2006 10:04 AM, Anonymous donna said...

That sounds awful. Thank goodness you knew enough to pull over and get yourself together. I'm so sorry that happened to you.

At 1/17/2006 1:09 PM, Blogger Sizzle said...

that does sound pretty scary. i am glad you are safe.

At 1/17/2006 8:13 PM, Blogger Fraulein N said...

Hope you're feeling better. I think it's perfectly normal not to want to go on the freeway if it causes panic attacks.

At 1/18/2006 10:19 AM, Anonymous TB said...

What a horrible feeling when you don't have control of your reactions. You're doing the right thing by keeping yourself out of situations that you know will cause you to panic.
I hope you're feeling better!

At 3/09/2006 12:32 PM, Blogger Lori said...

I would disagree. I have a mild panic disorder, and the most important thing is NOT to avoid situations in which you think you will have a panic attack.

Driving sometimes causes me to panic, too. Especially driving over bridges. In fact, your story could be mine, right down to stopping at a gas station to get something to drink and to calm yourself down.

I went to therapy for about three months and learned methods to combat the thoughts that start flooding my mind just before an attack. It really helped me. Because I know I don't want to be limited in where and how I travel for the rest of my life.

I feel for you. If you ever want to talk, I'm here.


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