Cuh-ray-a-zee, Daddio


Here I am, almost 50 years old and I still get pimples. Another thing, I have no elasticity, skin wise. And I gots enlarged pores. I get little catfish hairs on my chin that must be plucked upon discovery or I will Fweek Owt!!!

Actually, my Freak threshold is pretty low. About 12 years ago I began having debilitating panic attacks. It took 3 years to finally get the right medication to bring me back to sanity. If you’ve never had a panic attack, first of all, congratulations; they feel like a heart attack, which scares you, which makes the panic attack worse. You can’t breathe and your heart races. The only thing you can do is pace and wring your hands. I have been known to scream and beat on the wall during one particular spell.

My mother used to get what she called “sinking spells” and I am sure she was suffering from panic too, now that I understand it. It does manifest itself in different ways. Some attacks have made me only want to lie on my bed in darkness, not speaking. However, when you think you are having one, you need to get on the phone with your BBF or your aunt, and get them to talk you down. There is something so comforting about a familiar voice groaning “OMG, you’re not having a heart attack.”

Thankfully, panic attacks are few and far between these days. Now, something has to trigger an attack, back in the day, they just randomly happened. I have been known to have a meltdown or two, but I do pretty well, I think. I hope my kids don’t remember the times I went a wee bit wonky. I think most of the horror went on inside me. I am cursed with an overactive imagination, and it runs wild constantly. A couple of my co workers have seen me in a pretty emotional state, but we can joke about it now. Read this next part in a French accent, “She was screaming and crying, all over the place.”

I’ve always been a bit of a worrywart, I think too much, I mull, chew over, and contemplate. Sometimes, it builds up until I can feel it. Just writing about it has me a little edgy, so let’s take a deep breath. That really does help sometimes. I worked up a little routine I followed that kept me stable. Take in a breath, deep, breathe in as much air as you can, and then blow it out slowly, until you have to breathe, then rinse, repeat. Concentrate on the sound of your breathing; it takes your mind off the panic. After you feel a little calm, you can go to your “happy place”. I’m serious, that happy place theory is not bullshit. My happy place is the color blue. I do the breathing thing, inhaling deeply, forcibly exhaling slowly, then I just think of blue. A blue pond in a meadow. Blue waves lapping at a beach. You can feel the tide just wash away. The trick is, getting so involved in creating this ideal scenery that you forget to descend into madness. It sounds goofy, but it works for me. Sometimes. But I can’t be too far gone.

If you’ve not experienced this stressful affliction, I hope you never do. I feel certain a few readers will be able relate in some way. You know what helps, chocolate. And TCM. Maybe a tudge of Gentleman Jack chased by ice cold Coke (no ice please). These are not to cure the attack, but to pamper yourself once it’s over and the world is right again. Of course, one must leave out the whiskey if one came by their calm pharmaceutically. One must be responsible and civilized, even when tottering on the brink of madness.

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