NaNoWriMo: Writing a Panic Attack

So I finished my book today!  I can’t even believe it but it is done and I kind of love it.  I’m sure most people would see it as a silly book but I love it.  I can’t wait to edit and then print it out for my own little Christmas gift to myself.  I haven’t decided who else I want to read it but will probably give it to a few people.  I admit it will be hard to hear feedback because the story is so close to my heart.

However, I thought it would be fun to share one more section with all of you.  This is where I had to write about the panic attack I had in 2007.  Just before the scene you will read I had unloaded to my boss about all my frustrations and anger.  He was nothing but super duper nice and told me we would discuss the situation on Monday.  At the time I thought it was all done when I hung up the phone.  Then the nagging  question of what would happen at that Monday meeting overtook my brain.  Its pretty much just as you will read below.  Only major difference is instead of Oliver coming to my rescue it was my brother.  We’ve never been super close so I’m grateful to have that moment of bonding, as hard as it might be.

Since the episode below I have had one other panic attack during a period of extreme anxiety at the beginning of this year.  I can honestly say it is one of the most terrifying experiences a person can have.  I hope I have captured a tiny bit of that experience in this story.  I hope I have portrayed what went on in my brain effectively and in a way that makes sense.  This is just a rough, rough draft. It may not even be any good, but I was proud of how it came out.

No critiques at this time.  Just enjoy it and keep writing

Here it is

The Panic 

I don’t know how long I was asleep.  Maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour but it was not a restful experience.  I woke up groggy and for a second I couldn’t remember where I was or what had happened.  It was almost like I was a drunk person waking up from a coma (not that I would know what that was like).  My head ached and I was starving.  I looked at the clock 5 pm.  No wonder I was hungry.  I’d slept the afternoon away.   Why had I done that?  I never take naps.

“Oh yeah, I lost it at the office today” I say laughing in a sort of half dazed, half crazed way that insane people do in the movies.  The whole incident felt like a movie.  I wonder what my Father and Mother will think of all of this?  I know they would be concerned for me but would they understand it?  I guess Rich had understood why not my own Mother and Father?

“I wonder if Jamie is home?” I ask myself.  “Oh yeah, she is going on a date with red head Sean directly after work.  I wonder how it is going? She certainly deserves a great guy.   They would certainly have cute red headed kids” The image of all those red heads makes me chuckle.

I realize I better get some food in my stomach, so I put on a new set of clothes and take a look at my reflection.  My eyes are sunken, dark and puffy from crying. What a sight! My muscles feel sore and tired which I find odd.  I haven’t done any exercise unless crying is considered a workout.  I put on my necklace and give it a kiss.  I wonder what Oliver thinks of my outbreak? He would probably feel bad but would he care like I wanted him to care?  Why did he seem so upset with me? Maybe I can talk to him on Monday and get to the bottom of all of this?  Monday, Monday, Monday.  Why does that sound familiar? Oh yeah, that’s when Rich is going to meet with Chandra and myself?

Meeting with Rich and Chandra on Monday I repeat to myself several times.  Suddenly the weight of the situation occurs to me.  I’m going to meet with Chandra and Rich over everything I said to Rich today.  I’m going to have to confront Chandra with it all.  With three years of anger and resentment, how would that work out?  What if I lost it again and fled?  My cheeks got red just thinking about it.  It would be so embarrassing and to make matters worse my parents would be in town on Monday, so they would see it all.

Why hadn’t I just quit before losing it? What is Chandra going to say? What did I have to say in my defense? I could picture it now. “Chandra has been mean to me and treats me with condescension”. I could picture her telling me to ‘wake up’ or ‘grow up’ and was she right? What if I just came off looking like a fool? I knew Chandra had the ability to do that.  All she had to do was talk about all of my screw ups on the check run or only getting four fixed assets done in one week. Would she bring up the ‘adequate’ comment and if she did what would be her defense?  Rich had said she hadn’t spoken with him.  Would she get fired and then finally scream at me?  What would happen?  Why hadn’t I listened to the voice telling me to ‘make a change’ but it had seemed so hard?

Now nothing felt harder than Monday’s meeting. After all I had been through.  After all the anger and humiliation it was all coming to a forefront and I have never felt more relieved and terrified at the same time.  It was awful.

I had no choice but to go through with the meeting no matter the consequences.  Even if I ended up looking like an idiot.. well let’s be honest I already looked like one. Monday would just be facing the consequences of what I had done instead of hiding in my room.

My brain felt fuzzy again and I couldn’t seem to stop myself from asking more and more questions.  What would happen and would I look stupid seemed to be the most persistent questions I couldn’t get out of my head.

My heart beat seemed faster and I felt like I needed to take another nap.  “How the heck am I going to get through this weekend?” I wondered. A distraction.  I need a distraction. Cooking seemed like a good idea so I headed to the kitchen to see what I could whip up.  Looking in the fridge we had nothing unless I could make a meal with an egg some ketchup, jam and an expired container of yogurt.  Shoot.  Looks like I will have to go to the store.  It had been a week since Jamie and I had been to the grocery store to get food for the spaghetti incident dinner.

“I better go to the grocery store because I am certainly not going out to eat looking like this” I sigh into the fridge.

Grabbing my keys I head out to the car but the distraction isn’t really working.  As I walk and then get in my car I hear again and again in my head ‘What is going to happen? You will look like a fool”.  “Go away” I think and try to shoo the thought away like an annoying bug. Again when I start the engine the same thoughts plague me.

‘Focus on driving.  You can’t control Monday” I pleads with myself, trying to control my brain as if I was engaged in a giant tug of war game.

Driving does partially distract me for a few minutes and entering the store I feel confident.  “I can do this.  I cannot think about work.  I am thinking about what I might like to eat for dinner.  There are so many options.  Maybe chicken.” And then uninvited “What is going to happen? You are going to look like a fool.  You look like a fool right now.  Think how many times Chandra has done it before.  She always wins every argument.”  I look around at the crowd surrounding me and in my head everyone seems to be stepping away from me.  “I do look weird.  I am weird. Why is everyone looking at me this way?”  My breath gets faster and my heart races.  “Go away!” I think and I start to cry in a desperate sort of way.

“Ok.  I have to leave now. Maybe go to the hospital” I say to myself in a very clinical sort of way because my brain is totally absorbed in the panic of it all.  “What is going to happen? You are going to look like fool” pops into my head no matter how many times I shake it out.  Almost leaving my purse I rush out of the grocery store leaving a cart full of unpurchased food.  I have to get home.  I don’t know why I need to go home but it is a primal instinct. I’m not thinking.  My brain is full and exploding.

Somehow I make it home but each breath becomes quicker and images keep popping through my brain.  Images of what could be.  I can see images of Chandra winning whatever bizarre competition we have.  I see images of my parents looking disappointed at their out of control daughter.  I see Oliver’s face and a look of relief at the whack job he avoided.

“He, he, he, he” my breath has become like a fitful clown.  “I’m going to die.  This is it.  I can’t breathe.  I’m going to die”.  The world is black and I don’t know what to do.

“Call someone, anyone.  Where’s Jamie? Should I call a friend from church?  I can’t just die here alone!” the space around me swirls like on a hurly whirly at a fair.  I hear questions like music pounding in my head.  I have no idea what I am doing or where I am.

“Honey it’s going to be okay.  We all love you” I can hear my Mother’s voice saying through the darkness.

“I don’t know who to call.  I’m going to the hospital” I tell my Mother. “I love you.  I’ll call you when I get there”.  I know she wishes she could come and rescue me if only an ocean wasn’t in between us.   The hospital was an option but only rock bottom and I knew there was one person left to call and without even thinking my fingers call Oliver and he answers.

“I need help” I say as my breath gets fast and I know he can sense the panic.  This is the real deal.

“I’ll be right over”. He says and I put my head between my knees and try to control my breathing as I had seen people do on television when having a panic attack. I didn’t even care if he thought I was a crazy person.  I guess I was a crazy person.  I didn’t want to die and I didn’t want to go to the hospital.

Before I knew it Oliver lets himself in the front door and gives me a hug ‘You can get through this.  You are strong” he says which I have since learned is the perfect thing to say to someone having a panic attack.  Perfect.

“Now take a deep breath. I want you to take this medicine.  It will help calm you down, nothing scary I promise”

“I’m really sorry that I made you angry” I say ready to go into sobs again.

“Don’t worry about that right now.  We can sort all that out later.”  I hate later.  Later is unpredictable but I look into his eyes and I know he is really worried about me.  I have to get through this if anything for him.

I take the medicine and we walk around the house a couple of times. He is so reassuring and kind that I start to feel like myself again.  I can breath again and I don’t feel like I’m going to die. The fear of the future has not been taken away but the panic is lessening.  My brain is spinning less. Amazingly I’m still crying.  How much can a girl cry in one day?

“You probably think I’m a total weirdo but it was all more than I could take” I say as we walk and he takes my hand in his.


One thought on “NaNoWriMo: Writing a Panic Attack

  1. Reblogged this on Smilingldsgirl's Weblog and commented:

    I thought I would share this to. Its a fictionalized account of my panic attack but aside from changed names its pretty much as it happened. Its a rough draft so please ignore the grammar errors.

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