Friday, 15 May 2015

Don't panic, Captain Mannering!

I had a panic attack last night.  One moment I was eating a perfectly good meal, of lamb and rice, since you ask, and the next I was coughing, shaking and throwing up. I've been doing that quite a lot lately.
I used to pass out. I didn't know that I was feeling so bad about my life, that it had all become so very heavy to deal with, that my body couldn't cope any longer. I would choke, stop breathing and then slide down the wall if I could reach one in time. The passing out is such a relief except for the time when I passed out in the kitchen and banged my head off the radiator.
I  can remember sliding down the wall of a rented cottage in the middle of a thunderstorm when the lightning fired up and down the electric cables and I woke up to find my spaniel standing over me like a puzzled nurse in the hall.
I didn't know that panic attacks vary. I assumed they were all the same.
I'm going to the opera twice next week. I will take my courage and sit in the middle of the row somewhere close to the front and it's always a big test because I'm much more likely to choke and run at a live performance. I cough and can't breathe, I can't drink water, it makes it worse. I have to try and take control of my breathing, close my eyes and envisage the road between Durham and Stanhope and breathe slowly in while sticking my stomach out and then out while pulling my stomach in.
When I do this the tears stream down my face. I had to stop wearing eye make up, it ended up all over my wet cheeks.  If the attack is really bad I have to get up and run out, which is why I sit in the middle of the row because if I bolt I've disturbed everybody, made a spectacle of myself and lost that evening's battle. And if I run out it makes the next occasion so much harder.
Worst of all is having a panic attack at home. Most people feel safe in their houses. That's Crawl Into Bed Time, the only good thing about it being that it might happen on a sunny afternoon, the bed all light and warm. That's my idea of safety and then I listen to my audio books and remember how to breathe again.

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