Unfortunately panic attacks and an anxiety disorder don't give one flying flip about being an adult.
For days leading up to the thing, the anxiety built. Then, right before it was time for me to hop in the shower to get ready, I took the dogs out to pee. Evil Cody managed to escape and chase the UPS man driving down the street. Apparently he was not cool with his mom being delivered a bomb and decided to do something about it.
His decision almost got him killed and my nerves were shot. As I sat in front of my mirror drying my hair the anxiety escalated until I had the worst panic attack of my life.
I walked into the bathroom where the husband was getting ready. He took one look at me and knew things were bad and getting worse by the second.
My breaths were coming hard and fast. I was sobbing, shaking my head, flapping my hands and rising on my toes.
When I have a panic attack, I want to run, not from the place I am or to a place I want to go, but out of my own skin. Which, to my knowledge, is physically impossible. And so I rise to my toes. Or push off a table or the wall. It does little to still the panic but I do not do it by choice. It is instinct.
I sat on the toilet, naked both physically and emotionally, stripped of any sanity I had ever known.
The husband knelt beside me and knowing there was nothing to say, he was just there. Black spots began to dot the corners of my vision and started closing in toward the center of my sight. The thought that I was going to pass out only increased my panic.
The husband instructed me to take long slow breaths. Thankfully I was able to listen to him and the darkness never descended.
When the hand flapping and rising and toe curling stopped, I was exhausted. The husband wanted to direct me to the bed, wanted me to get some rest. But I couldn't let him go to the thing by himself. While he didn't mind going he wasn't particularly thrilled about going by himself and the idea of not going at all wasn't an option.
So I fixed my makeup, put on my dress and pearls and clung to his arm.
"What if it happens when we're there?" I asked. "What if I lose it?"
"Then I'll carry you out," he said.
I felt like I was floating above myself all night. I wouldn't make eye contact with anyone and I hid behind a table. At least I tried to hide. There were low chairs at the back of the room behind a high-top table. I thought I could sit in the chair and no one would see me. Which was almost true. You couldn't see anything but my head. That makes me laugh, now that the terror has passed. In fact, the whole thing makes me laugh now.
But at the time, it was the worst moment of my life.
When we got home and I changed and slipped beneath the sheets I was completely drained. And my heart hurt, like it had been pushed to its limit and was weaker for it.
There is a saying that I'm sure we've all heard, "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger."
In the case of anxiety, I don't believe this is true. Nothing about that panic attack made me feel strong. Or empowered. I didn't even feel proud that I was able to pull it together and be there for the husband. The only thing it made me feel is that I shouldn't have had to deal with it in the first place, that he shouldn't have to deal with it all. I should be a "normal" wife who has "normal" reactions to going to things.
There is another saying, one my mother said to me often when I was growing up, that I believe to be true: "There is good in every situation."
In the case of my panic attack, the "good" was the husband and how he responded. Although I suffer from anxiety, I still don't think that I would know how to respond or what to say or what not to say to someone in the throes of a panic attack. Because while the symptoms may be similar our pain is our own. So how in the world the husband knew how to handle my panic attack I will never know. But I am grateful.
He did not tell me it would be okay. He did not offer words meant to soothe but end up sounding hollow. He was just there. Kneeling beside me. When I was finally able to see straight, there was neither judgment nor pity nor impatience in his eyes. Just love. And it was good.
I can only hope that when the day comes that he needs me, I will know exactly how to be there for him as he was for me.
Quote of the Day
Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.
~Zora Neale Hurston
Word of the Day
inamorata: a woman whom one is in love with.