I just stopped a discussion I was having over the phone with John, because there wasn't enough time for me to say what I needed to. We were talking about panic attacks. A very good friend sent me an article about dealing with panic attacks, and I was telling him that while I really love the fact that so many people are looking for solutions for me, the constant "Relax and breathe deeply" mantra is frustrating. Because it doesn't work. If that's all it took, Xanax wouldn't be on the market. Yes, breathing deeply can help you calm down. Frankly, however, it does fuck all for a full, real anxiety attack except keep you from hyperventilating and passing out. It doesn't help you calm down in that situation. It may give you the appearance of calm, but it does not actually calm you down.
John then told me that breathing deeply helped him keep from getting too worked up last night. I'm guessing on his Math test. I'm happy about that. But it's not the same thing.
"They're similar." He said.
At this point I knew we'd have to talk about it later, because no, no they are not. I have contemplated living with panic attacks vs. not, because there is very little I would not do to end them. Having an attack makes me want to die. No exaggeration here. I don't want to kill myself, I just want to not exist. (Note that I am still alive, I very much like living. It's the overwhelming desire to get the bad feeling to stop that is at issue here. Xanax is a far better solution to the problem than not existing. Or a gallon of vodka, that also works. But I am being honest about how these attacks make me feel, i just don't want you to get the wrong idea about my sanity!)Anxiety attacks are that bad. They are not a rational reaction to the situation, they are a full body experience of fright, flight, fear and doom. I love my husband, and I know he tries to understand. However, if you've never had a panic attack, you don't understand. You just don't. Bless you for trying.
One of the more frustrating things about having anxiety attacks is this very issue; no one understands how you feel unless they've been there. The severity of the attacks also varies from person to person. My Mom, husband, and most of my friends have no idea what this is like first hand, and try very hard to be helpful. Telling me to "calm down, stop worrying, breathe deeply" and "just relax" however, are like throwing a glass of water at a house fire. I'm improsioned in my body, which is imprisioned by my mind. I have to ride out the feeling that my life is about to end, that I am about to die. I don't think I am about to die, but that is how my body reacts. That level of fear and panic. I can't escape, because there is no where to go. I can tell myself that I'm not being rational. I can know this. I can't stop the feeling, however. And no matter how hard I try, I can't quite explain to anyone what the attacks are like. I'm willing to try anything, but hearing the same things that don't work over and over again makes me cry from frustration and despair. Despair! (Dramatic, I know.) Because I want this to never happen, or a mental button I can press to make it stop if it starts. There's nothing but time. Slow, horrible, endless time until the panic subsides. On the other hand, great days fly by. Oh life, you are unfair.
Thanks for listening to that. It helped me get what I want to say to John a little straighter. It also let me vent some frustrations, because I can't take me emergency medicines while pregnant. I'm going to see the drug shrink next week, and get some info about behavioural thereapy for anxiety attacks, etc. I know that I'm going to have to deal with this issue for years, and like I said, I'm open to all attempts at dealing with this. I want to get to the point where I am confident in my ability to deal with this crap. I'm very lucky to have the wonderful friends and family that I have, whether they understand this condition fully or not.
Well, that was pleasant for a Friday, no? No. Sorry. But I hope you have a good weekend, and the knitting needle case is done, so I'll post pictures of that later today. As a make-up for the crap from my head falling out again.