My mom passed away from breast cancer last November and it has been a very difficult thing to deal with. I thought I had worked my way passed it, but recently it seems that may not be the case. Coupled with other stress in my life I experienced a bad panic attack that lasted for several hours. It was very frightening for a while and then I just sort of came out of it and was myself again. My mind wouldn't stop asking questions; I was very worried about what I was going to do, if I was going to have to talk to a doctor about anxiety medication (which I can't really afford or really want to go on). Then I felt like my old self again and it felt amazingly normal. I was still nervous, however, that I might have another attack, but I didn't and made it to the end of the day. This morning I still felt ok, but just slightly nervous.
Right now, I'm wondering if I'm going to stay slightly nervous like this for the rest of my life or what. It kind of feels like waves; it's strong and then it fades. A week ago I did not feel this way at all, and before that I never felt such anxiety except for one instance right after I made the trip home to see my mom for the last time.
I live quite a few states away from where my home used to be and I had to fly home, which was one of the worst experiences of my entire life. I had flown before a few times, and actually enjoyed it, but I developed a tremendous fear of flying after a few bad experiences on a plane (had to abort a landing once) and that last trip I knew was going to be the last one I could ever handle. I just barely made it â it was extremely terrifying. I kept thinking about the plane crashing and how unbelievably horrible it would be. I wish now that I had driven home or took a bus or something else. No way Iâll ever be able to fly again. But this wasnât the panic attack I mentioned.
I had an attack on the way back home. I didnât use the roundtrip plane ticket I had; I rented a car I couldnât afford and drove the 1,200 miles. I run a weekly newspaper with my girlfriend of several years, so I have a deadline to think about every week. I didnât want her to have to put together the newspaper by herself, so I tried to drive the trip the entire way without stopping, which was incredibly, amazingly foolish. I can see that now.
I nearly made it home, and had drunk three Redbulls to stay awake (it might have been two, but I think it was three). I had driven through the night and for I canât remember how many hours. I was about two hours from home when I realized I was too exhausted to make it much further. I was barely awake behind the wheel, fresh from without a doubt the worst weekend of my life, having endured two last days with mom, whom I loved with all my heart, and who looked so pitiful with the end stages of cancer.
Ever been to South Dakota? Well, in case you havenât, in a lot of places thereâs not much out here. And at the time I realized I couldnât make it much further, I was in one of these places, a long stretch of road and not much else. I wanted to find a hotel, any hotel and just please God get to sleep as soon as possible. I ended up finding a town so small I donât think it even had one. In panic, I pulled over somewhere and hopped in the back seat to sleep only to panic even more. I donât know how much caffeine was in my system. Too much - I know that. The thought that occurred to me as I lay there exhausted was that it was my time and I was going to pass away.
I got the hell out of the car immediately.
I was right beside a gas station. I went to it to call an ambulance because my face and hands had gone numb, something Iâd never experienced before. And can you guess what I was thinking? I thought I was having a heart attack. Later, actually just the other day, I realized this was a severe panic attack (Thank you, caffeine!).
I know this is getting too long, so Iâm gonna try to wrap it up. I could write a book about this I swear I could. So a pair of E.M.T.âs came, found my blood pressure to be 160 over 110 or something along those lines and I took an ambulance ride to the hospital, where they gave me Ativan (spelling?) which didnât seem to help. I had an e.k.g (I think thatâs what it was) which revealed no heart problems. They fed me a meal, which was quite delicious actually, and not long after I was able to finally get some sleep. My girlfriend and her dad came to pick me up. I got stuck with an extra day rental fees for my car. We returned it an hour late.
I was shaken up, but I was ok after that . . . for a while. Last week my girlfriend and I got into a couple of arguments and didnât talk to each other for a while. I have never felt more alone, nor have I realized how alone I was. Momâs gone, my grandma (who I was close to) died of a heart attack about two years ago now, my brother and I just havenât talked in years and Iâm sad to report we just kind of lost touch, and the rest of my family is mainly extended and we just donât talk much. I moved far away to be with my girlfriend, and since then weâve moved again (not as far, but far enough to lose what new friends I had made).
So when I was by myself last week I felt indescribably alone. And I was very scared of being that way and became terrified. I felt like my girlfriend was all I had and if I lost her Iâd have lost everything. We never really talk that much either, but in the last few days Iâve talked with her for hours about everything on my mind, including momâs death. Now Iâm talking to you. Now I feel a little better. So Iâm going to keep talking and keep writing and hope I donât have to get hooked on pharmaceutical junk that I canât afford and is going to make me use the bathroom every two and a half minutes.
Thank you for listening.