I am not normally superstitious but 2013 has not been my
friend thus far.
Of course, it is only the 1st of January so
chances are good that I can turn things around.
This New Year’s Eve, I not only made it to midnight but I
was there when the sun rose, too. Midnight was intentional and fun. The sunrise
had not been on my ‘must-see’ list but after enduring the six proceeding hours
in and out of a state of anxiety, I must admit I welcomed its arrival.
Yeah, that happened. Again.
And I suppose what I really want to say about that is it
just flat out sucks. And if that sounds like the language of a petulant child
then I guess it’s fitting because I feel ripped off and inclined to go sit in
the corner and sulk.
Panic will often have a trigger for the individual, maybe
several triggers, and it’s almost always connected to a previous episode. So
for me, my two worst panic attacks occurred when I had been drinking,
entertaining and away from home. Any time I know I will be doing any of those
things, there is a tiny alarm that goes off in my brain and if I don’t
acknowledge it and talk myself through why this time will be different, then
the mere thought of it can be enough to set off another episode.
In short, thinking about a panic attack can give you a panic
What annoys me most about this time was that we were having
a very relaxed BBQ dinner and backyard hang with two exceptionally lovely
families who we adore spending time with – in our own home. And when I say I
was drinking, I may have had a grand total of four beers in 9 hours.
I was safe. I felt safe. Why did this happen?
It was the worst episode I have had since Luca was conceived
almost seven years ago. I have become quite good at reigning in anxiety before
it blows out into nocturnal pacing. I couldn’t get a firm grip on it this time
and this was probably compounded by the fact that one family had stayed the
night, asleep in our lounge room and blissfully unaware of the madwoman who
stalked around her darkened house, trying to get off the rollercoaster of
The only thing worse than having an anxiety attack is having
it around other people. No matter how you adore them and trust that they do not
Often times, anxiety manifests itself in me with constant
nausea and if I can settle that, often the panic will settle, too, so I
searched in vain for medication I had taken for morning sickness with Harlow. I
then began the process of phone calls – Nurse On Call, the emergency department
of the closest hospital, even the nursing home across the road to try and find
a doctor who could prescribe me something. I have danced this lonely midnight
dance before and I knew that none of the people I spoke to could help me but
there is something comforting about the voice on the other end of the phone,
knowing that you are not the only person awake in this moment and though
ultimately unable to help, sympathetic to your plight.
Trying to find a solution for panic in the middle of the
night, you begin to understand that you’d be better off having a heart attack,
flashing lights and sirens to validate your distress. But if what ails you is
your own mind, it’s frightening how truly alone you can be. Naturally, New
Year’s Eve is boom time for emergency departments and locum doctor services and
me with my little old anxiety was so far down the triage chain it wasn’t funny.
That is why learning to manage the
anxiety is so important and I understand that the system would buckle under the
strain of trying to treat every panic attack when it happened. The answer does
lie with the sufferer themselves but sometimes, when you’re exhausted by the
terrorist within your head, you just wish someone could wrap you up and make it
all go away. Answering Nurse On Call’s questions, there is a moment of pause after,
“Are you having thoughts of harming yourself or others” – no, but if I say yes,
will you help me?
Bren, as always, is my rock-solid foundation, bearing the considerable weight of my crazy with unwavering love and support.
I am beyond blessed. I just hate that this is part my life.
All I wanted to do was wake up this morning and have bacon
and eggs with our friends. Instead, they were out the door within 15 minutes of
waking because I was still pacing like a caged tiger. It was a simple hope and
I resent how utterly out of reach it was today.
And worse than that, Luca noticed. He has never seen me in
that state before and as much as I tried to act normally, his worried eyes told
me I had not succeeded. I went outside to pace in privacy but he followed me.
Jesus. I hate that
this is my life.
This was not the New Year post I wanted to write. It sets a
tone that is at odds with my hopes for this big, beautiful year ahead.
But I am choosing to see this as an opportunity to better
realise this year’s full potential by addressing a problem right out of the
So here’s a new year’s resolution for you. I am going back
to counselling to get a handle on this shit. It’s starting to creep up on me
again and I don’t want to live this way.
And here I thought losing those last five kilos was the
worst of my problems….