Archive | January, 2012

Panic Attacks. And then I got pregnant.

30 Jan

So I was talking about how panic attacks really suck.

I was rolling along having a really shitty time when I started doing some talk therapy along with medication. Initially saw a counsellor that I hooked up with through my EAP (Employee Assistance Program) through work. After that I started seeing a GP psychotherapist.

I really liked both. I gained insight and some useful tools and I was doing better. I never felt 100%, but I was nothing like how I been in the past. I could see friends easily and get through days with limited anxiety. I smiled and was often happy. My hospital bag was still packed by the door, but I rarely thought about it.

And then I decided to get pregnant again.

And I was great during my pregnancy. I swear I had few cares at all despite having a high risk pregnancy. I have a blood clotting disorder – prothrombin gene mutation – that had been discovered when my daughter was born 2 months premature. As a result, I was on fragmin (a blood thinner) and saw, in addition to my OB, a perinatologist and an internist. I was seen in the high risk pregnancy unit and seemed to have appointments all the time. My placenta had clots on it, and the blood flow to it wasn’t great. My blood pressure was high, I had to go off work, but I felt fine. I was at the hospital twice a week for monitoring and spent a week in the hospital prior to the birth of my son at 37 weeks, but mentally, I felt better than ever.

Once my son was over 1 month old it all started again.

If I thought I was bad before, it was nothing compared to how I was at this point.

Part 5 coming soon.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

For the love of boy bands. I am a hypocrite.

29 Jan

Yesterday I wrote about boy bands and how I was over them.

I was wrong. Sort of.

Later in the day, I showed my 8 year old daughter the videos from NKOTB and Backstreet Boys and she was laughing and laughing and laughing. At them. And at me.

“Oh, mom, this is way too much. These songs and these guys are so lame”. I can’t believe this harsh music critic is my kid.

So I popped on One Direction to show her what her generation of boy band looked like. Turns out she likes Harry and found the song One Thing to be “not bad”. And I agreed. It’s a catchy song.

So I spent the next hour watching all of their performances on X Factor UK and they have it. IT.

Don’t get me wrong, they are children, and I still don’t FEEL that thing that I felt for New Kids and Backstreet (and N’Sync, O-Town, Take That, etc), but I can still appreciate a winning boy band when I see one. I just don’t really care.

And that’s how I spend a Saturday night.

For the love of boy bands.

28 Jan

When I was 11 I discovered the New Kids on the Block. I loved them. I wanted to marry Donnie Wahlberg, “the bad boy”. I went to three concerts. I was a huge, huge fan.

In grade 7, I had a sleepover with two friends and we stayed up all night (aka 2:00AM when you’re 12 years old) writing letters to the boyz. We thought that if we sent twenty letters in a big box with a peace sign necklace that we bought with our own money and a hand drawn map to my house inviting them to dinner when they came to Canada gave us an edge. Totally not stalkerish at all. /sarcasm

I saw one concert at Copps Colleseum sitting BEHIND the stage and at one point Joe was singing “please don’t go girl” and he pointed right at me. That’s right ladies, Joey Joe, pointed. right. at. me. Obviously I was bawling my eyes out! Little did I know that he couldn’t see anything with those lights.

I had Hangin’ Tough Live on VHS and I wore it out from constant use. I actually needed to replace it. Thanks to the magic of youtube, it’s now available for always!

When I was 15, I discovered the Backstreet Boys. My love for them was enduring and strong. I went to three concerts and I met them at their hotel after a concert. Not like THAT! My friend and I found out where were staying and stayed there too, along with 2343234 other girls. Apparently AJ was having toilet issues.

I liked them all the way through highschool and university. My friend M and I watched them debut “I want it that way” on Saturday Night Live and our two male friends who were there that night swear that the temperature rose in the room from our screams. No doubt the neighbours were contemplating calling the police.

You are MY fire!

Around the same time, I discovered N’Sync. Bye Bye Bye? One of the greatest songs to dance to of all time. For real.

When I was 20, I watched Making the Band with friends in university and discovered O-Town. Jacob was just so hot! ;)

From NKOTB to O’Town, I have liked many a boyband – New Edition, Perfect Gentlemen (who? Yeah, exactly.), 98 degrees, LFO, Soul Decision, etc).  If the guys were marginally good looking, danced and did not play instruments, didn’t write a single song, and sang anywhere from bad to mediocre, I was hooked! There was something about the combination of it all that I just loved, loved, loved!

And then boy bands went out of style.

People started playing instruments again or something. I became a mom, Lady Gaga rose to fame, American Idol came to the screen, Beiber fever started. The boy band guys started losing their hair, having kids and appearing on dancing with the stars.

And then came One Direction.

This boyband out of the UK has all the ingredients.

Cute guys who can sort of sing – check.

British accents – check, check, check!

Play their own instruements – come on now. Of course not.

Video with them soulfully staring into space – check.

And they are breaking into North America. And girls are freaking out. Like screaming and stalking them freaking out.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited to freak out.

And nothing.

Like that Chorus Line song – I feel nothing.

No excitement. No squealing. No dreaming of meeting them.

I think age has a lot to do with it. They are all under 20. WAY too young. So young that I look at them and feel maternal rather than attracted. They are kids and I am not a kid any more. And I don’t want to be.

I’m ok with that. Moving past boybands is almost like losing a huge piece of my childhood. But I have gained so much in exchange. Besides, NKOTB still tour, and lets face it – they’ve got the right stuff! ;)

Panic Attacks. Triggered by my own writing.

27 Jan

I need to add a trigger warning to these posts.  If not for other people, than for me when I edit and reread them.

I wanted to put these posts out over the course of a few days but I am finding sifting through old memories incredibly difficult. Way more difficult than I could have ever anticipated.

My 4 year old son takes skateboarding lessons and we were at the skatepark Wednesday when I started to panic. His lesson is from 4:30 to 5:30. I kept staring at my phone, willing the time to move faster. It moved slower, I’m certain of it.

I was shaking so bad, I felt like everyone could notice. My mouth was dry and my breathing shallow. My chest was heavy and my heart was racing. Another mother, someone I had never seen before, was chatting to me, and I have no idea what she said. I smiled and nodded but I wanted to bolt. I wanted to go onto the ramps, grab my son and leave. I was happy when she left.

I’ll just wait 5 mins, tell the instructor that my daughter is sick, and we’ll go. I’ll wait until 5PM. That’s normal. 5 more minutes.

I started thinking that I might collapse or pass out. What would happen to my kids? The instructor is responsible. He would help my daughter call my husband. The owner’s wife was there. She would comfort my daughter. The dad of the other boy in the class is nice. He would make sure the ambulance was called and my kids were safe. He would play with my son.

I needed air. I needed it so bad but my breathing was so shallow. I google mapped how long it would take me to drive to the nearest hospital. It wasn’t far. I could make it in 15 minutes and it wouldn’t be busy at that time, would it? Maybe my doctor would see me. No, I was too embarrassed to call him and tell him I had failed. Again.

I cannot express how discouraging it is to get to this point, after being well for so long. I was better. 

I went outside and didn’t feel the cold. I didn’t feel anything but each and every body sensation. Pain. Choking. I was going to throw up on the cold ground by my car.

If you looked at me, talked to me, hung out with me, I don’t think you would ever know that I have panic attacks and anxiety. I have been told repeatedly by people that they had no clue and I don’t seem sick or sad or anything. Doctors have told me that because I am high functioning, it is easier for me to mask it and hide things. Easier for me to get done what needs to be done, like work and taking care of my kids.

I called my husband.

Something is really wrong this time, I told him. You know what it is, he told me. I think it’s my heart, or my throat. If it were either of those things, you wouldn’t be walking around in the cold, chatting with me, and you know that. Keep walking. And keep talking.

I walked and I talked. I went back inside and talked to the owner’s wife and to the other dad and to my daughter and to the instructor. I cheered on my son. We left at the normal time. I felt marginally better.

I cried the whole way home but I don’t think my kids saw. I really hope they didn’t.

One of my closest friends, D, called me. I had been wanting to talk to her but I couldn’t bring myself to answer the phone. I didn’t want to burden her and I knew she would worry. I spoke with my other friend J, and never said anything. I didn’t want her to think I was fucked up. I didn’t want to burden her.* My husband and I have plans to go out with people on Friday night and I have been thinking on how to get out of it, working it over and over in my mind. What can I say that sounds plausible and not insulting to people who I really like and really want to see but just can’t right now?

Realistically, I think this resurgence is due to rehashing what went on and working through those feelings again but I think it’s important to tell my story, because my story may help another person. My story may help me.

I did phone my doctor and my psychiatrist and my massage therapist and booked appointments with all three. I also pulled out my thought records.

For anyone going through panic, anxiety or depression, I cannot recommend a book called Mind Over Mood enough. While it’s important to have someone trained in CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) to talk and work through the book with, if you can’t find someone or the wait is long, read this book and do daily thought records. They help(ed) me a lot. There are a lot of really great, trained people in Toronto who do CBT.

*I have have really bad cognitive distortions in the moment of panic. I know I can call my friends at any time and they will be there for me just like if they called me in crisis there is nothing I wouldn’t do. I just hate feeling like I may burden people. I feel like if I can get through that moment, I will be fine later, and it would have been silly to have burdened them at that time.

The above video shows my son skateboarding at an earlier date. <3

Part 4 coming soon.

Part 1

Part 2

Panic Attacks. The Journey Continues.

26 Jan

After my panic attack on the way to Ottawa, I went to see my family doctor. I was adamant about not being on medication. Medication was for crazy people. I was normal. Normal. I have a really great doctor, who booked longer sessions for me, where we sat and talked and drank tea and he humoured me about me not needing medication.

For a while I was fine. Until I wasn’t.

I started having panic attacks frequently. When I wasn’t having an actual attack, I was in a really high state of anxiety. My physical symptoms were out of control. I wasn’t keeping track of my thoughts at the time, the way I do now, but my most prevailing thought was that something was the matter with me, I was dying, and I would leave my daughter motherless. Every twinge was something, until my breathing was so shallow that I was essentially hyperventilating. My muscles were always tense, I grinded my teeth. I was hot and cold. I was sick all the time with colds. I kept a bag at the front door packed with things for me and my daughter, clothes, books, toys, diapers, and a Roots hoodie that I never wore. Each night in the evening, I showered and washed my hair and put on a nice pair of pajamas. I was ready to go to the hospital if I needed to. I was nothing if not prepared.

I was absolutely consumed with the idea of never being able to see my child grow up, of her not knowing just how very much I love her, and how I would do anything for her. ANYTHING.

That year, I attended the ER at least six times. If I went in the middle of the night, I brought my daughter with me. The thought of us being separated made me worse. The bond I have with my daughter remains strong today. Two times, I drove to work, and had to turn around and go to the ER. I cancelled plans with friends because I was scared about something happenting to me.

At the ER, I had a need to see my ECG results. My blood test results. My chest X-ray results. I just wanted confirmation that they were normal. That I was normal. And then I would be almost ok. Until I wasn’t.

While I basically hid everything from friends and family by withdrawing from activities, just keeping things on the surface, and faking how I was doing, my doctor was another story entirely. I couldn’t keep it together even in the waiting room. Or the car on the way to his office. He was seeing me at least weekly and I was put on medication. I knew I needed it, even if it did mean I was crazy. At this point, I really believed I was crazy. How could I feel this way and not be crazy?

2005-2006 was not a good time. Not a good time at all. Despite having the best daughter any person could ask for, a great husband and wonderful friends and family, and a fulfilling career, I was so unhappy inside. I lived in fear constantly. I cried all the time.

I was so tired. So very tired.

Part 3 coming soon.

Part 1

Panic Attacks. The journey begins.

25 Jan

I have panic attacks. They suck.

May 2005. I was driving to Ottawa with my mom and (then 2 year old) daughter in the car to visit my brother. I suddenly felt as though I was smothering. I could not get in an entire breath and my heart was racing. It was as though I was both watching what was happening from somewhere else and feeling each sensation so acutely. I pulled the car over and calmly (my exterior was so calm despite my interior being in turmoil, something that would prevail even today) told my mom I couldn’t breathe and needed to get help. I got out of the car and called 911.  I stayed with the operator pacing on the side of the highway. My mother stayed with my daughter.

An ambulance came and took me to a hospital outside of Ottawa with my mother and daughter following behind me. After heart tests and blood tests and other tests, a really nice doctor asked me if I had a history of panic and anxiety. Until that exact moment, I had never thought so. I began to cry and shake hysterically. And then my journey began.

February 2001.  I was sitting in a seminar room in History 421, Russian Revolution, at Queen’s University. I felt like the room was getting smaller, closing in on me. The professor sounded far away, like she was speaking in a wind tunnel. I wanted to get up and run.  My heart was racing and my palms were sweating. I was going to be sick. I was going to go crazy right there in that room.

A few years ago, my mom brought me some old boxes and in one of them, I found  my old journals.  Funny, how at the time, and even looking back, I never thought of myself as an anxious person, and yet, reading the journals, I so clearly was.

I have panic attacks. They suck.

This is my story.

Part 2 coming soon.

Photo Credit

After the after school.

25 Jan

Yesterday I wrote about the issues am having with my daughter’s ballet school. To my utmost surprise the (main) teacher and owner apologized.

In the end, some of the classes can be made up and my daughter remains in the class until the end of the year.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad. It just is.

I look forward to whatever next year will bring but I remain apprehensive.  And hopeful. Always hopeful.

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