It has been nearly a week now since my horrible panic attack. It's amazing how shaken that left me; I have not had one on that level for many years. In fact I can only remember about 3 that bad, ever. When I was first diagnosed with panic attacks it was very tentative for the simple reason that I don't even do panic attacks normally; instead it appeared I was having them in my sleep. Nightmares had beyond reasonable reactions and eventually it occurred to Dr.Mind the first that these things sounded a lot like panic attacks. It was a good thing he figured it out too as I endangering myself and others in my sleep. My roommate and I had to move things so I couldn't grab anything accidentally and either pull it over on myself or throw it at her. Even then we missed things; there was once when she walked in just in time to watch me panic and yank one of those clip lights that can be used a reading light where lamps won't fit right onto my head. That hurt. It also, rightfully, scared her to death since she couldn't stop it and knew it was going to scare me and hurt me. Since then bed has been kept pretty safe and items that I could possibly harm myself with are shoved away before I go to sleep. Even then I have thrown a cat out of bed (not harming any thankfully), or had one huge panic attack when one of them licked me while I was asleep and I meshed it into a nightmare. It's funny, I know that I was in grad school and approximately what stage of grad school I was in when I had the last one as bad as this was but I remember nothing of the circumstances except that it was rather late at night and I needed a lot of calming from a friend (aka the former Dr. Mind the first; did I ever mention that I sort of never let go there? Well, things changed, I should say. Regardless Dr. Mind the 1st is why I knew the current Dr. Mind would be able to help me; they are very alike. Very different in some ways, but very alike in important ways).
I will admit that although I know that the attack started as some insanely painful reaction to my niece turning one and many feelings I thought I had dealt with but instead had really shoved aside and decided weren't so important after the first time I held her and knew that I'd love her with all my heart no matter the pain. I then kind of decided no pain existed. I've done this before and I suppose I'll do it again, but it certainly isn't the recommended course of action in coping skills.
I have a problem with letting go and crying. Dr. Mind the first and I worked on this without much result. Dr. Mind the current worked and worked at it for about 4 months and offers repeat seminars on the topic routinely and so now sometimes I can cry. When I feel overwhelmed by too many emotions, which is kind of a major risk with bipolar disorder and rapid cycling, then I become incapable of crying until the right thing triggers it. Usually it is a very gentle word as Dr. Mind has become pretty good at starting the tears when I desperately need to cry and can't. Sometimes it takes a review of the "it's ok to cry" lecture. Sometimes it is a matter of pointedly ignoring the first 15 tears and then suddenly I'm letting out all the painful stuff inside. But it is not often that I can just simply cry. That was one of the strangest feelings about the psych unit because there I could not stop crying. I cried for most of first probably 5 days and did not care who saw me or what they did about it. I spent literally the entire first day crying, even when semi-engaged with something else. A locked unit is the only place I've ever felt completely safe to cry.
So explosive crying happens sometimes. Last week though was far beyond just a bit explosive. It was insanely, terribly painful and it was frightening because my crying and my every emotion was far more intense than it should have been. It was scary to cry like that, to feel so little control. And then, to make it harder, the panic attack involves the rest of your body so that you are shaking and gasping for air and certain you will never get a deep breath again, and at least for me all the pain that I never let anyone see comes out.
Thankfully I don't remember all of it. I remember maybe the first 10 minutes and then the last 30-45 when I was working hard on calming myself.
I hate the idea though because it's been so long and now I am afraid it will happen again. I know I'm under extraordinary stress; baby's birthday plus some intense work stuff plus surgery plus the scary surgical plan plus I thought Dr. Brain as mad at me plus Dr. Mind is away combined to make a horrible mess.I also know that although I had no idea the hormones were out of control and I was probably already having mood issues I didn't see somehow. I hadn't slept well in a very long time. I had this new blog design which I truly do like a great deal but I did not get what I had pictured and didn't feel like I had a lot of warning that what I pictured wasn't what was coming, which would have made me shop around a bit. Even now I'm disappointed because one thing I asked about and was told yes could happen several times never did and when I have asked about it I didn't get an answer, so I guess that is no. Which is too bad because it would bring some of it together. It's one of those things where it's my own fault as I didn't have enough technological knowledge to know what to expect and because of that I didn't picture the right thing, yet everything but the one part is there and it's all good. And because I spent a good bit of money on this I wanted it to be my dream, not just close to my dream. But someday.......you know, over the rainbow and all that :).
Anyway, time to take pills and switch from computer to nook. Turns out the nook gets me to sleep faster than the computer thanks to the lack of glowing. Good thing to find out. And I'm reading one of my all time favorite books ever, Anne of Green Gables, which is always something I can attend to and smile about. Plus, 25 classics for $.99? Who can beat that?
More destressing to come.......I feel fairly sure of that one at least.