Dealing with a Panic Attack

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I am driving the car. The flood water is rising. How will I make it through? The rain pounding on the windshield is blinding. Suddenly, a break in the rain brings to view a car, hood smashed right in front of me. I swerve to avoid it. People are surrounding the crash, trying to help the victims get to higher ground. The water is still rising. I’m going to drown.

My eyes spring open, my body jolts upright.

Just a dream. A flurry of dreams. The last one actually better than some of the first. Then I notice it, that tingly warm feeling pulsing through my arms and down into my hands. The muscles in my legs start to spasm very slightly. A feeling of dread and despair begins to seep in.

No, no no no no no no no no no no no NO!!!!!!

I am angry and terrified at the same time. How long has it been? When did the last one come? Why now?
It isn’t fair!! Sleep is suppose to be my one safe haven, a place where my thoughts and body are at peace.

The panic washes over me in waves. One moment I feel calm, the next, my muscles are spasming as I cling desperately to happy thoughts.

Happy ones aren’t working. Must empty my mind completely.

I wake my husband and ask him to please hold me while I fight it. He does. Just his presence is comforting. But it won’t always be there when this happens. I must remember how to get through it on my own. I focus on my breathing. Breathe slowly, calmly.

What if this feeling lasts forever?
Muscles spasm harder.

No, no, it won’t, it will fade. I am fine. I am fine. Everything is okay.

What if it’s not okay? What if I have to increase my medication?
Warmth pulses into my hands. It’s like little jolts of electricity zinging from my brain down to my finger tips.
Every negative thought feeds it.

I am calm, calm, calm, calm, calm. Must be calm. It will fade.

Breathe in……..

Breathe out.

Afraid to sleep again. Don’t want to wake up like this again.

So tired, tired of fighting this thing. But grandma did it. She’s done it her entire life. I will make it through like she has.

Gradually, fear subsides, body relaxes, sleep comes.

When daylight hits, it is only a memory.

I will face it again, and will get through it again with that memory, knowing that I did it before. These attacks may never completely go away, but I will be strong.