Monday, July 14, 2014


I never thought this would happen to me. I thought I was on too much anti-depressant medication. But it's true. You can still have a panic attack while on plenty of medication... Here's how it happened to me: 

Before resolving an argument we (my fiancé and I) go to dinner with my son and my parents. Behind the wheel I am steaming while keeping a straight face (I'm German, it's what we do). From the back seat my son is chatting on and asking questions he may or may not get answers to. I take my time getting out of the car because I don't want to look my fiancé in the face. My head is swirling. I sit gingerly at the orange-topped pizza joint table. "What would you like to drink?" says the waitress expectantly. I look at her blankly- "water," is all I can eek out. Don't make me talk. I can't speak right now. My stomach is twisting and turning. I try my best to interact with my son. But I am so trapped in my thoughts, my weak smile is a pathetic attempt. The drinks and the plates come. I can't eat. They go to the pizza buffet together and I sit blankly, my insides revving up swirling faster and faster. I feel like everyone is staring at me. They come back to the table and not long after, tears roll down my hot cheeks. I must leave. This is so embarrassing. I don't want my son to see me this way. I go outside and around the corner of the building because I know that people won't be staring me in the face as they walk in the door to the restaurant over there. I am numb and yet I feel like I am going to explode. I feel the need to shake the living hell out of my hands to get this feeling out. But it won't come out. I'm breathing heavily, I can't catch my breath. And then I realize: this is exactly how I felt the evening that R died. I felt panicked and paralyzed. I didn't know what to do. My head was swirling with too many thoughts at once. I remember my stomach like a brick for days after, and wringing my hands. I cried and cried, feeling mad at myself for having a breakdown during dinner. But I didn't know at the time that I was having a panic attack and I couldn't help these physical reactions. The parallel makes total sense to me now: We argue (R and I used to a lot), I get anxious because I don't like to argue, I come home to a life changing surprise (R has killed himself), deep down I am afraid this will happen again. So I take some Ativan that the doctor has given me to keep on hand, I notice at almost the exact time we arrived home that day to find him dead. It takes a good half hour to start working on me. Enough so that I can eat a little. Even so, suddenly I break down again. Crying- just not able to stop it. The kind where you cannot breathe. I would have wept openly if I had not been in a restaurant. I pulled and tugged at my shirt as if it was suffocating me. Deep breaths. I need deep breaths, but I am afraid of what kind of guttural sound will come out of me if I try to do that. I don't know what's wrong with me!!! Thank God my fiancé recognized what was happening and came to my side to help me.

With that behind me- now my questions are: why haven't I had one of these before? It's been almost 2 years since R died. Why was this the first time? And I thought I had made more progress than this? Does this mean I have regressed? Will this keep happening to me over and over again now? Is this normal for someone who has experienced what I have?

The 2 year anniversary is coming up. I am wondering what to do. Last year there was a "life celebration" in his honor, but for me it was like going through the funeral all over again. I am glad I don't have to do that again. We will do something to honor his life. I just have to think of how to do it.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there, I found your blog through xojane and just wanted to let you know you're not alone in having panic attacks late after a traumatic experience. My mother died over 5 years ago from an overdose (she was an addict etc) and it wasn't until after the first year past that I started having crippling panic attacks. I don't know why it was delayed but it gets better. :)