And now, a mental health update:
Pollyanna may have gone completely around the bend. Updates as they occur.
Below is an old draft that I never posted, because it’s very personal. But I am thinking I should post it. What the hell am I afraid of ?
This is two years old:
Thursday evening, I came home to an empty house. No son. No note. Lights off. Now, the Resident Sith Master is levelheaded, reliable, and trustworthy. And 16. Ya’ll would think that I’d just assume that he was over at a friend’s house, and remind him to leave me a note next time. That would be a reasoned and rational response, yes?
Oh, hell, no. I went straight into gonzo nuts out-of-my-mind panic. I totally and completely flipped out. I searched every room in the very small apartment twice. Like he was hiding from me. Like there would be clues left by his kidnappers.
I noticed that his wallet and cell phone were gone.
Cell phone. I called his cell phone. He was indeed with friends. He was on his way home now. He’d thought he would be home before me. He’d called me at work but hadn’t left a message. He’d meant to leave a note. He was really sorry I’d worried.
I hung up the phone, got his quilt off his bed, and curled up on the couch. It took ten minutes for my heart to stop pounding, and fifteen for the tears to stop.
He is, as he reminded me when he got home, sixteen, not six. He promised to leave a note next time. He really is sorry I worried. He was completely sure he would be home before me (but the transportation was out of his control). He had a teenage moment of losing track of time. If I can have perimenopause moments – or weeks – then he gets to have an occasional teenage moment, ya’ll.
I hadn’t worried. Oh no.
I had had a full blown panic attack.
I didn’t realize until the next day that it was a panic attack. God, I hate panic attacks.
Yes, I’ve had them before. A lot. Yes, you would think I would recognize the signs, but I didn’t. I have been having panic attacks for years, maybe all my life. I didn’t know they were panic attacks until someone I care about (protecting their privacy here, but it’s not Anna-Liza) was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder which includes panic attacks. I had been present during some of this person’s panic attacks. When I heard the diagnosis, I went online (of course) and researched anxiety and panic attacks.
And then, I realized that my reactions to this person’s panic attacks were actually panic attacks of my own. And that I’ve been having panic attacks as long as I can remember. Maybe I’m just slow on the uptake. Several years ago, I had a health crisis and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Much later, I realized that the fibromyalgia symptoms have been with me at least since college, probably before. The symptoms were put down to allergies, or flu, or muscle fatigue from over-exercise. Obviously my doctors have been slow on the uptake too.
Sometimes my panic attacks are triggered by predictable (to me) stimuli: anticipating a confrontation, getting lost, a bad dream. Sometimes they are triggered by random things: a song on the radio, walking past a group of normal people, or nothing that I can trace. I know that I do better when I’m rested, when I’m happy, when I’m fulfilled. I almost never have them at home on the weekends. Writing about the panic attacks is hard. It makes them more real to tell y’all. But I’ve had three in the last 24 hours, and it’s getting old.
It may be time for that padded room.
Promise me ya’ll will visit and bring me yarn to fondle.
That was two years ago. I have therapy, and medication – and panic attacks.
I get them in the grocery store now. That’s fun. I tend to get triggered by bright lights and noise and crowds. Plus the grocery store hits my triggers: food issues, body image issues, health issues, money issues. Whammo! Panic attack!
It helps to wear my sunglasses in the store. I’m sure it looks weird, but it helps keep me from going into overload. I also try to take a detailed list, and I remind myself that if I forget something, I can come back.
Aliens are not going to beam up all the grocery stores.
Also, no one cares what’s in my cart. Really.
I always go to the same store – the one I’ve been going to for years. I try to go when I’m rested, and when there are fewer customers.
Sometimes it helps. Sometimes I have panic attacks. Usually I can keep moving, keep breathing, know that it will pass. Usually I can finish getting everything on my list, even in the midst of a panic attack.
Now I have panic attacks at work too.
This is worrying me so much that I’ve got an appointment for a psychiatric evaluation next week.
Once I’m in the padded room, y’all will bring me pretty fiber to play with, won’t you?