The Anatomy Of A Panic Attack

Today I drive back to Knoxville for one of TWO trips this week. I need to get the kids to school first, and then hit the road so I can be there in time to get Mom to a doctor’s appointment. BUT! The weather is going to be crappy and I’m worried I won’t be able to wait out bad patches because then I can’t get her to her appointment on time. Ever since I did the math about my drive yesterday and looked at the weather, I’ve been worrying. I slept HORRIBLY, kept thinking about weather and time and appointments and punctuality and stressing HER out. If you’ll recall, driving and punctuality are big triggers for my anxiety. So, if you put a strict timeline on my driving schedule and add in some constant rain/storms to the party you have basically created Zoot’s Biggest Panic Attack.

But then this morning I remembered the Worst Case Scenario game. It’s the game you play with yourself when you feel your anxiety spiraling, and you ask yourself “Worst Case Scenario” about your worries and work your way through them so that you see A) Few problems are unconquerable and B) If it feels that way, it’s probably a rare possibility.

This game doesn’t always rid me of panic, but it does often help me manage it at least, so I gave it a try.

If the rain gets really bad and I decide I need to wait it out and Mom misses her appointment, what happens?

WE RESCHEDULE IT FOR A DIFFERENT TIME.

Oh. There it is. That’s, like, a very easy solution. Especially because people are very sympathetic to our situation and so they second I knew I’d be late I could call and they would be very kind and understanding, I’m sure.

Why did I lose so much sleep over that again? Rescheduling this appointment would be nowhere close to the end of the world so why was I tossing and turning last night?

Because my brain is broken and small worries create big physiological reactions which make me feel like they’re REALLY BIG WORRIES because all of the chemicals in my body are reacting as if they are REALLY BIG WORRIES. Sometimes I medicate to counterbalance that and sometimes I use therapy and lessons learned in therapy, like the Worst Case Scenario game.

Sometimes I get angry at myself for having such ridiculous anxiety, especially to such benign triggers. There are still 50 little “what if?”s that I’m worried about today because it does combine several stressful elements, but really none of them are a big deal but now I’m exhausted which is going to make me even more volatile and vulnerable to a panic attack today and while I understand how this is all physiological and is just as frustrating as a person with celiac trying to figure out what to eat when they travel, I still get very mad at myself. Like, Uggg…like would be so much easier if you could chill the eff out once in awhile.

But, this is my life I guess. People with celiac have to watch what they eat, people with diabetes have to monitor their blood sugar, and people with anxiety have to live with the consequences of panic attacks. No need for shame.

Just wish I could have worked through all of this yesterday and maybe slept a little better last night.