So, it’s official, I finally had to be medicated. I’ve had enough of being held captive by panic attacks. It’s been happening more frequently, and I refuse to let myself get to the point where I’m afraid to leave my house because I don’t want to have a panic attack. I was starting to slide down that slope, and I had to stop somehow.
I went to the doctor Friday and finally told him what I should have told him a LONG time ago. I’m talking like Once Upon A Time….that long ago. The first time a doctor ever used the term “panic attack” in regards to what was happening to me was an ER doctor when I was 14. Um, hello….that was 13 years ago…..and it wasn’t my first panic attack. It was just the first time I ever freaked myself out to the point that I couldn’t get back in control and I thought I was going to die. So, dad took me to the ER.
My doctor has diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It’s probably a diagnosis that should have come a long time ago, but it didn’t because I was too chicken to bring it up. I thought I should be able to calm myself down. I thought that in the big picture someone who couldn’t stop being scared wasn’t as big a medical problem as others may have. I was embarrassed that I could be dissolved into a shaking, terrified, puddle of tears for no apparent reason at all sometimes. I kept telling myself to grow up and deal with it.
When I was in elementary school I used to start to feel sick to my stomach at the mention of a tornado drill or fire drill. I’m serious. If anyone had ever looked at the days I was absent and compared them to what was going on at the school that day, they would find it was a “drill” day. My earliest memory of feeling like I do when I have panic attacks was in the 3rd grade. I heard my teacher talking to another teacher about a tornado drill that was going to be happening that day. I got all queasy and nervous, and eventually had to be taken to the office to call my mom to go home. In the school’s eyes I had just come on with a stomach bug……nope, it was the drill…..even in the 3rd grade I knew that. I never said a word though because I was afraid my classmates would find out and make fun of me for being weird.
Another example is from the 5th grade. The day was getting cloudier and looking nastier by the minute. It had been mentioned that everyone needed to pull the window shades down in the classrooms. The teacher even looked nervous. She gave us our Science assignment and had us get to work on it while she walked to the next classroom which happened to be vacant, but held supplies. I knew a storm was coming….I knew it was going to be bad. I couldn’t concentrate on the assignment….all I could think about was that storm. I got dizzy, and nauseous, and I thought I was going to pass out or throw up. I told my teacher I thought I was going to be sick and I needed to go home. I think she recognized that I wasn’t actually sick. Instead of sending me to the office to call mom, she had the class pack up, grab one of the hardback textbooks, and we headed to our shelter place for storms. That memory is so vivid that I’m getting nervous just typing about it…..guess that medicine hasn’t kicked in yet, huh?
Anyway, my long winded point is that I should have said something to my parents or teachers back then, but I didn’t. Nobody really talked about anxiety in adults back then much less in kids. Even when I got older and knew there was a name for what was happening to me, I just kept trying to ignore it. I kept pasting on that fake smile and pretended I was in control. I told myself it would go away….and I could deal…..but I couldn’t. I can’t tell you how many people have seen me cry because of a panic attack I couldn’t control (several hundred in the Festhaus at King’s Island for instance). It felt good to admit I couldn’t stop these attacks myself…..and it felt good to be told I wasn’t crazy.
I now have a little pink pill that I take every morning. It makes me a little nauseous at this point, and it puts me into a little haze a few hours after I take it. That’s ok though, the doctor warned me that it would take a few days for my body to adjust. It also took away my appetite, but I’m ok with that too…..as long as it takes away my panic attacks. Here’s hoping this works.