Finally It Happened to Me…

by octopushat


I don’t usually like to talk about my ongoing struggles with anxiety and attendant unpleasantness, but that was simply too strange to not share.

On Sunday, I was thinking to myself, “Gee. it sure is nice that I haven’t had a panic attack in a while…” Sure, I’ve had anxious days and some acute anxiety attacks, but I had suffered on the those heart-racing, dizzy, think you’re going to die, five-alarm, capital-P Panic Attacks in a long time. Of course, thinking that thought stirred something in the messed-up brain wiring I call home, and today was the day to relapse.

I’d first noticed being a little “elevated” in the shower this morning. Nothing too out of the ordinary, especially for a Monday. After showering I was still a little antsy, so I decided to get a chore out of the way and go to the grocery store before the lunch rush. Get my mind of the anxious feelings. After picking up some cold cuts, i started having difficulty breathing and the pit of my stomach started to drop.  “Great,” I thought as I rounded my cart onto the chip aisle, “I guess this anxiety isn’t going away.” The I noticed the music playing in the store. It was Cece Peniston’s 1991 debut smash-hit “Finally”. My breath got really short as I fixated on the droning repetition of the “chorus” and then my head started spinning and my vision collapsed into a tunnel as tears welled up in my eyes.

Finally it has happened to me right in front of my face
My feelings can’t describe it
Finally it has happened to me right in front of my face and
I just can not hide it

Repeat ad nauseam…

An overwhelming sense of doom washed over me and I had to steady myself on a display of stacked tortilla chip cases.  My heart was racing, I could barely breath, and I a cold sweat washed over me.

Decades of experience suffering these had taught me I had two options: ditch my half-full cart of food and flee to some safe space, where I’d undoubtedly end up quivering in a useless ball until I could regain some sense of control; or say “fuck this” and gut it out. Try to take deep breaths, focus on the task at hand, and try not to puke. As much as I wanted to take option one, I’m a stubborn fuck and if there is one thing that I hate more than a panic attack, it’s feeling like I’ve succumbed to it.

Things got a bit easier once Cece was done wailing — but it felt like that song was 20 minutes long. I tried to take deep breaths and silently recited my calming mantra (which isn’t quite “fuck you brain, fuck you brain, fuck you brain,” but it might as well be). I finished my shopping list and got the hell out of that store. I started to feel better the second July’s hot air hit me as I walked out into the parking lot. Back at home and it’s ice water, hot tea, and maybe an attempt at meditation to find something close to centered again.

I have never, that I can recall, had a panic attack sparked by music. It was an odd sensation to feel the familiar circular thoughts that often accompany acute anxiety lock-in to the repetitions of the 90s dance hit. It was incredibly intense, and now I’m sorta terrified of ever hearing that song again.

Now I’m going to go through all my medicine to see if I have Klonopin.

(Not really… I just really wanted to use that Hold Steady line in this post.)