I think my panic attacks are different than yours.
Maybe every panic attack is as unique as a snowflake.
To me, it feels like unbearable grief coupled with guilt. It hit me while I was driving home from dropping my children at day care.
The scene was chaotic. A recent heat wave has meant lots of water fun for the kids, but it leaves them wet and covered with sand. The plight of teachers chasing after three and four year-olds and peeling them out of dripping suits plucked my heartstrings too sharply to just drop the kids and go home to the season premiere of Dexter.
I corralled a few kids in a corner with a book. It’s amazing how the simple act of sitting down with a child and a book draws in the other children. What happens between four and fourteen? For my freshman boys especially, if I want to clear the room fast, all I have to do is threaten to read them something. Sometimes they leave skid marks.
I started with three kids but by the end of the book, seven were seated around me, talking over each other to point out their “owies.” My own daughter, Viva, gave me sad brown eyes when I eventually got up to leave. She had a visit from her grandparents this weekend, and for all that it stressed me out, she was in Adored Grandchild Heaven. Monday morning hit her hard. Dropping Daddy off at work elicited tears. Viva was pretty bummed too.
A promise to figure out “Google Hangouts” with Nana before bedtime tonight finally got Viva perked up and willing to face her day. Newly two year-old Pringles is much easier, but even my little ray of sunshine had the blues this morning, clinging to me fiercely during the hand-off.
I was nearly home when I had to pull over to cry and breathe deep cleansing breaths. My mom was a yoga teacher when I was little, and the breathing exercises she taught me have saved me over and over again. Inhale, 2, 3, 4, and exhale 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
What right do I have to these feelings of terror and sadness so acute I have to pull my Nissan over to the side of a nice suburban street a few blocks from my hilltop rental home? My Privilege is staggering. Only being male and making a bit more money would bump me up into a higher tier. Beauty, brains, humility. I’m the whole package. I feel such contempt for myself. A sad stereotype of a soccer mom on antidepressants, having a panic attack on a Monday morning. If only I were on my way to Pilates. Then I’d be even more pathetic and useless.
It passes mostly. My Privilege includes health care, so I have a prescription that helps with these blessedly rare attacks. I had it with me in the car. There’s always two pills tucked safely away in my purse just in case this happens. Now I have to find a way to get out of my head.
I’ll get into Dexter’s head instead. That ought to be relaxing.