Dissecting My Latest Panic Attack

It happened again.

Literally, the worst feeling in the world.

A panic attack.

I could actually feel it as I was leaving the parking lot of my last employee meeting today.

The big difference from my initial panic attacks a year or so ago is that I know exactly why this happened today. Funny enough, my panic attacks have come the week before my menstrual period but I just finished it so that couldn’t be the reason.

There are 3 reasons to explain it this time:

1) The past few nights I haven’t been getting much sleep whatsoever – it is the biggest culprit – Fitbit shows an average of 4 hours and 16 minutes over the past 4 days! How does one function, honestly?

2) I had extra sugar in my system today and possibly caffeine (even though I asked for decaf coffee, but who knows what they gave me).

3) Been a lil stressed/overwhelmed at work  – HR is no joke folks- so much happening – along with the fact that I’m trying to figure out how to reduce my work schedule so I can move towards being self employed – it has taken over my brain! I just want the time to do what I want to do! Is that so hard? Maybe it is, but clearly it’s affecting me in a negative way.

I was driving home around 4:35 PM when I started to experience a panic attack. I know it’s directly related to the multiple stressors listed above.

I was woken up at least four times last night alone by my son who then came into our bed and then ultimately I had to go into his bed just to get some sort of sleep.

While driving I noticed my heart rate going up to 100 to 107 bpm  and I was just sitting, driving! I felt like I needed to open the windows, I felt nauseated with the need to have a bowel movement and my hands were shaking like crazy.

Thankfully I was able to pull over into a Tim Hortons parking lot and relieve myself as well as take the time to calm down and do some breathing exercises on my Fitbit.

My anxiety occurs when I feel like I’m trapped in traffic and there is nowhere for me to go. It only happens when I’m driving – and I believe the reason for that is because my first major panic attack was during rush hour.

For example, if I’m in the left lane and I am not able to get into the right lane to exit, I feel as if I am trapped and that’s when my heart rate starts to go up and I start to get scared about being caught in traffic with nowhere to go – freaking out in my car and wondering what people will think when I have to get out of my car to try and calm down.

Instead, I unzip my jacket, open the windows, and do my breathing exercises.

I am so glad I know all of the signs but if I didn’t have an opportunity to drive into that Tim Hortons parking lot I’m not sure what I would have done.

Typically, I phone someone to talk to them while I’m driving to help reduce the symptoms and change my focus but no one was answering their phone, therefore I needed to pull over and figure it out myself.

Im glad I was able to calm myself down and get out of the panic attack mode in order to go pickup my son from his school.

Clearly, I really really really really need to make sure that I get proper sleep tonight, so if that means sleeping in the basement and going to bed very early, then that’s what I need to do because I hate having moments like this and I get so scared.

As I left that Tim Hortons parking lot, I started to dictate my experience into a notes app in my phone. I wanted to capture this and journalize it. Just reading it again helps to ease my mind that it’s something I can control for the most part.

I know what i need to do but I need to be vigilant to ensure that this doesn’t happen again in the near future.

And with that, I’m off to a workout at Orange Theory Fitness then home to shower and go straight to bed – maybe not to sleep, but to at least be still.

For me sharing is healing and I hope by me sharing this experience folks will feel they can share too.

I just experienced the most joyful special event of my life two weeks ago and now this happened…no one is perfect folks and we all go through crap.

I’m just keepin it real, as always.

Til next time,

Natalie

2 Comments

  1. February 17, 2017 / 7:26 pm

    Wow, Natalie. that must be SO scarey! I get mild anxiety in crowded grocery stores, but nothing like what you describe. Have you thought about asking your doctor for an inhaler (puffer) that you could use if you have a panic attack and need more air?

  2. February 16, 2017 / 6:29 pm

    I have random anxiety attacks in vehicles as well – same response; I need to unzip or take off my coat and hang head out of window. It only happens when I am a passenger and have had to even take over as the driver if we are going to be able to continue. It is a horrible feeling and so I can empathize completely with you. Movie theatres are another place where they have suddenly come upon me and I have to get outside. Wierd, I know…. I have been practising yoga everyday for the last 2 months if even for just 15 minutes and I find that has helped as I can now concentrate on my breathing when I feel one coming on. I’m not sure what the answer is but we can only deal with it head on when it happens and go on with life….

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