Stripping the Power, or, The Oxygen Mask

The purpose of this post is to try to strip the power my anxiety disorder has over me. One of my professors in class today said that problems get stripped of their power when we write about them.

Here we go. I am currently in the middle of a great big panic attack. It’s happened before, and it will happen again, but maybe this time I can regain some control over my own life.  Since my gallbladder issues at the beginning of the summer (which I can’t even afford to fix right now), my life’s been a great big ball of stress that just keeps getting bigger. After that incident, my car, Clem, died as you may have read. I do have another car that is now getting me to school – where I get to participate in four classes, three of which might kill me by the end of the semester because of the workload and, as per usual, my financial aid has neither been awarded nor posted, so my refund is not here, so I can’t buy my books, or go to the doctor to make sure everything’s all good.

A few weeks before school started, I was lying on my bed, like I am now, reading Still:Notes On A Mid-Faith Crisis, by Lauren Winner. I’d had panic attacks before, but this one was way more intense. My throat slowly began to close, then started to close faster because I started freaking out. I knew that if it was anxiety related, my extremities would begin to go numb, which they did. So, I began going through my “toolbox” of tricks to talk myself down out of panic mode.

They didn’t work. Legitimately scared to death, that I would indeed maybe die because I couldn’t get enough air, I decided to (as I had no car), walk to the Urgent Care clinic that is thankfully and conveniently adjacent to the entrance of my neighborhood.

I signed in and had to wait forever in the waiting room, as my throat continued to constrict, my extremities continued to go numb and my face and lips began to tingle.

Finally, the nurse came to get me. She talked to me for a while, then the Dr. came in and we talked about all my life stressors and the fact that I “couldn’t get enough air and I didn’t want to die today.”

He had me sit up in the chair with my legs up, put an oxygen mask over my face and told me to just relax and breathe normally.

“OH, ok. That’s good advice. I’ll try that. Thanks, pal.” (In my head, of course. I only said it in my head)

I sat there for about 5-10 minutes, I guess (?) plenty of time to contemplate how ridiculous it seemed to me that I’d let my worry and anxiety get so out of hand. I was kind of out of it at that point, but lucid enough to feel kind of ashamed at my lack of trust that God would take care of me and somehow, be the God that has always been my constant.

The doctor came back in with a prescription for Ativan, a tranquilizer, and sent me on my way.

I just took a half of one, just now, and now I’m still tense enough to write this blog post. To get my mind off what’s going on for a few minutes and to loosen anxiety’s grip over me. So there you have it.

Suck it, panic disorder.


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