Saturday, October 21, 2006

Panic attack

My first thought is to apologize as part of me feels embarrassed. I do not normally write personal posts, and keep my personal feelings to myself. But, it is a blog and writing is my way of coping with 'things' so pls, skip if you want to read about politics and the like and step right this way (scroll down!) and browse away.

Right now, I am struggling with panic attacks. I have been experiencing them the last couple of days and it's been freaking me out. Not only the feeling of the panic attacks themselves, which you cannot rationalize away and is very disconcerting how it makes you feel out of your control, but it reminds me of when I had a nervous breakdown as a teenager (long enough ago but still, I remember!). This happened during a time of no Oprah (and thank you Oprah for all the work you're doing helping people), no computer (cannot do research to find out how to deal with 'things) and no hotlines. Well, I looked, even online but cannot find any hotline for panic attacks, but on a happy note everything else seems to be covered.

So I figured I should write. I tried calling my mom twice, but she has a great social life and is not at home, of course! I woke up a little before 5 and all of the sudden, started to feel a panic attack coming up. The weird thing is, it started a few days ago when I felt as if I hadn't eaten enough and all of the sudden it spiraled. I felt unsettled and when I am nervous, I cannot eat. Hence the 'spiral'. So then anything I try to eat makes me feel nausious and my stomach feels unsettled even more. Funny thing about nerves. When I went to university, I found that quite a few of the students that I knew would eat when being nervous, unlike me, who cannot put anything away when under stress and that's when you actually need it!

At the moment, I am stressing over my husband being out of town (just for the weekend) which is silly, because I've lived a whole year with him having been away on a one yr contract working out of state. He did visit of course but somehow, I managed. The big picture which has been getting to me is this. I have made some great online friends who share common goals and values. I have had a great outlet 'talking politics', exchanging ideas. But (there's always a 'but'), it cannot substitute for real live conversations with friends which I feel I do not have. I am not exaggerating because I am in a state of anxiety right now and too focussed inward, I really don't have them. I have complained to my husband for years that it's so difficult making friends in this country. That, plus he's not social with other people at all, although when you meet him, you'd never know. He's jovial, jokes around, seems at ease with visitors. Yet, he has only casual friends (if I can even use the plural) and we do not have social gatherings other than the ones I have initiated with other people. Tried doing potlucks a couple of times with the permie people here, but nothing else came out of that. We do have a friendly street where we live but everyone has their own life and the one neighbour who I do get along with is kinda fickle and self protective. She comes from a big, dysfunctional family and can share information and the like, but is emotionally closed.

At times like this I miss where I grew up. Not that everyone is much nicer or approachable in Holland (good grief no), but as a culture, friendships are not only highly valued, people are much more open to not only making friends, but maintaining friendships. Here in the US, people easily fall into the 'sorry, don't have time' trap even though it's not that they don't have time, they cannot muster up the energy or the interest somehow. So one of my big issues is isolation (she says writing on the blog). Even at my son's school where I exchange niceties with other parents (it's not a school in our neighbourhood and most people don't live close to the school), I feel , as I like to call it, 'click-less'. When I was distraught two days ago and I actually cried to my husband (I am not the crying type), I told him that it would be nice for a change for someone to try to make friends with me instead of me always trying to make friends or connect with others.

So at times when I feel alone I feel very anxious and I have even told my husband a few weeks ago, I feel as if I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Of course, he doesn't know what to say or do. I feel embarrassed. It's affecting how I feel physically and I feel I need to talk to someone. How can I be a mom if I cannot even function properly? Who can I talk to?
I just want to feel better and in control.
Could I talk to anyone?

thanks Betmo for your kind comments. Your suggestions are very good but trust me, as a social person, I've tried all of them! I did finally get a hold of my mother and decided to call the doctor's office. Even though they're closed for the weekends, they do have this thing called 'medical exchange' which means that someone takes a message and calls the doctor on call for you. I bit the bullet and did so and the doctor who called me back prescribed me a few pills of Xanax (sp?) only to get me through the weekend. He knew I was going to try to get an appointment for my own doctor on monday because this panic attack is caused by something else. As the doc mentioned this morning, something triggered it. After he said that, and I hung up, I actually realized what did trigger it. So I just started to write long hand in order to get it out of my system, part of it anyway. I do need counseling. Then, I called the People's Pharmacy here where they are very knowledgable about alternative medicine so this afternoon, I will check out with them what I could take instead of Xanax. I am really bad taking pills, (I always need a liquid version of things) and I figured that something homeopathic which could temporarily address my panic feelings would be just as good.
I am dreading the night time, but hopefully I will have something to keep me chilled. One more night of this and I'll just pass out and fall asleep during the day, phooy!
I still feel kinda silly having shared this because I am used to keeping things to myself, (ahaa..therein lies the problem you say..yes, you're probably right)


Blogger betmo said...

talk to someone about the anxiety attacks or in general? sounds stress related but if it is effecting you this much- you should see your physician. as for friends- it's funny- i just left another site where the host said that people were too busy, etc, etc to visit and the like. i feel the same way- but i have always been solitary- so it doesn't bother me. making friends in america. hmmm. is there a hobby that you have where you could meet folks who have something in common with you? the neighbor thing doesn't work- let me tell you. i have lived on my block for 10 years and i don't care for most of my neighbors. i have friends from my previous job though- but we don't see each other much anymore since we don't all work together. i used to take flower arranging classes, cake decorating, etc- in the evenings to meet folks. i found a friend there and we used to get coffee and chit chat. theater groups, book reading clubs, etc. if you can find compatible folks- you are more likely to develop something longer term. modern society doesn't promote relationships.

7:36 AM  
Blogger betmo said...

oh- and it's ok to post personal stuff once in awhile- it keeps us human and we get to know each other a bit :)

7:37 AM  
Blogger Mirvat said...

i get anxiety attacks all the time and it gets out of control! i'm happy you wrote this. thanks for sharing, it made me feel better! i once asked my friend who is a physician and he told me the best way to cope with anxiety is alcohol! he said they don't say that to patients, usually beta blockers are prescribed, which are bad for the heart anyway. if you can control it, one glass of wine every day!

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Robbie said...


No need to apologize for sharing your personal life on your blog. I've started to do that a little bit because I don't want to write about politics all the time. I do have NaNoWriMo, but at the same time I want to write about other things. That's why my blog is beginning to have more of a LiveJournal look and feel to it.

I went off on immigration a couple of nights ago, but I needed to. The whole ruckus in Escondido has been bothering me and now that it's "out there" I feel much better.

By all means, make this blog about you. Don't feel compelled to write about politics all the time. Do what makes you happy. :-)

Hang in there. Everything's going to be fine.

2:33 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hi everyone, thanks so much for your encouragement and attempts at making me not feel silly (I still do but less so).Betmo, I love being by myself actually but I am also a very social person. In Holland, where I grew up, people socialize just a whole lot more than people here (in general of course) but there is a cultural difference in how people relate and what they share with each other. I have moved several times, to different states in the past almost 10 yrs (already that long??) and here in Austin we've been here the longest so far and I do not want to move. I have gotten involved more with school fundraisers, even helping out the indy texans with the blog (have been delinquent lately), I took a permaculture course a year and a half ago but so far, no new courses. I was hoping that volunteering for KOOP radio would also get me out but it hasn't so far because it's not a big station where everyone congregates. You are right though, shared experiences tend to draw out similar people. I'll have to look for another activity. Thx for your kind words of encouragement. Mirvat and Robster, ditto guys. Mirvat, if I had a drink a day, I would be concerned that I'd get too used to it. I remember, almost 15yr ago, I got in the habit of drinking a little wine whilst cooking and then I thought, oh no, I might get addicted, so I stopped! Now, I probably wouldn't (I'm the 'falling asleep type' not the 'woohoo, NOW I can do my thing' type), but I am very hesitant taking anything that I could get too used to. That includes the Xanax the doctor prescribed. Of course, the couple of pills (plus low dose) that I would take is not going to do it, but those meds taken for even a month can get you seriously addicted.
Well, I'll hope to sleep better tonight, I'm already pooped. At least I got invited to have dinner at my neighbour's (who took the kids so I could go get my meds in peace) so I'll make sure I get myself back on track and knock on wood, no more panic attacks for me..

4:25 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I hope things settle down Ingrid. If you need help, please ask your doctor or a mental health specialist for advice. You are a good person and it's not your fault that you are feeling these feelings. I find that it helps me to walk and to take lots of deep breaths (when I feel something difficult).

Pulling for you..

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Yohay Elam said...

Hey Ingrid, I also hope that things will get better.
In the US, I think it's harder making friends. People are nice and kind but they draw a line as to where things go to.
And I like reading personal things as well. It's hard for me to relate to a political opinion if I don't know about the person.
Feel well!

10:06 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Gary, thx for your support. I think I waited too long to 'work' on things,and now it's working on me so to speak. You can only suppress or put things off for so long. Tomorrow morning, I'll be calling my doctor for an appointment (the same day if possible) and ask for a referral to a good counselor or what have you. In the meantime, also ask for meds for the short term. Not the xanax which will prove addictive, but something to keep my unsettled feeling under control. My brain/logic tells me one thing, my body is saying 'whatever'and is still reacting funny.
Yohay, I appreciate your support as well. it's a shame that culturally things have to be so different here and I do think that literally distance (distance between people where they live) makes a huge difference. I will try to be more open about myself in general because the one thing that drew me to blogging was the interaction between people. And like in life, it's not all politics all the time either..
thanks for all your encouragement guys, it means a lot!

10:52 AM  
Blogger Dr. Strangelove said...

Ingrid, I havent been visiting regularly like I used to, so I didnt see this post until Sunday night.

I know all of us here are "virtual" friends but nonetheless we do "connect" as human beings. Trust me, behind all this typing, we are all flesh and blood human beings. I also think through the crazy 24 hours of blogging that a bunch of us persevered through a few months ago, we forged common ground, all of us.

I am going to tell you to hang in there. I know you have heard it before, but I want to add my voice to the chorus.

As for your writing, it has always been personal, even when you wrote about politics. That's why I read your posts - I want to know what you think. Keep writing about what you feel you need to write about, you will always have an audience.

Get through the weekend. I hope this week brings you better days.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Cyberotter said...

Ok my two cents. are WAY to on top of things to be having panic attacks.

This is the bodies’ way of reacting to trauma in the mind. The pancaking of several smaller concerns into one giant reaction.

Divide and conquer. Don't forget to breathe slowly. Learn to take a few moments everyday to just sit in a quiet place and breathe. (make the children be quiet)

You don't have to address everything all at the same time. Take on items of a stressful nature in smaller chunks. happens while you are making other plans and it's the journey and obstacles that make it all worth while.

Don't be such a creature of habit and embrace change. Doesn't have to be anything big just introduce one action or activity that is different from the norm.

7:39 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Mash, thanks for the compliments and words of encouragement. I am a political animal I just can't help myself. I do think that I will post more personal stuff, but knowing myself, I'll soon get right back into the 'heavy' political.
Cyberotter, when you talk about changes, d'you mean like, riding on the back of someone's chopper cross country?? (hehe)
I hear what you're saying though. After I am done with writing this morning, I am going for a walk. I had started to stay home more and more and not even joined my family on the weekends with certain outings as I needed time to myself. But, as social as I can be, I can also very easily become a hermit and that's not good. So, I'll definitely try to tackle this head on and get help in couseling (gotta call after this) and hopefully my mom can come over and help me a bit) When you don't have anyone being able to help around the house, or do the things that family and friends do when one is in need, it exarcebates the issues.
Thanks for your two cents, they're worth more than that though,

10:05 AM  
Blogger tooners said...

i get panic attacks, sometimes more frequently than i'd like. stress usually brings them on. there are good meds that you can get that aren't perscribed. if you can't find something at a pharmacy, you should check w/ a chiropractor because they always carry stuff like that. also, check w/ Whole Foods.. they carry some great drops that work quickly. you can also use them on animals, which i've done and they've worked wonders!

i think it's nice to get personal. i'm not one for political blogs really, so i don't post often, so it was really nice to see this blog. sharing and letting the feelings out can really help. writing is also good, as you've seen.

take care...

4:56 AM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Tooners, it is really good to see you again. really. It is funny that once I decided to be a bit more personal, I received more comments here or by private email. So much for wanting to engage in all these wonderful political discussions right?? I will post an update today (I hope) since I've been awol from the blog for a long time. Part of me wants to post again part of me wants to chill. Still, I am a writer by nature and this is my way of dealing with things as well..
thanks for stopping by and letting me know about Mahmoud as well. I had not gone there in a while because I kinda got the feeling that I was given the cold shoulder and you know, I'd like to be engaged with people and not get the feeling of just talking to myself. Hence, I always appreciate any feedback or commentary I get..
thanks for your suggestions btw.. I do have something homeopathic that I got but I have resorted to some other meds (will update) that help me really well.
c'est la vie. It's a sign of something else that I needed to take care off and the panic attacks are getting my attention..
see you around!

10:23 AM  
Blogger tooners said...

i was wondering about you. i had noticed that you weren't leaving comments on mahmood's but i wasn't sure why. some ppl can be rude... i've noticed the same but i try to ignore it. i get that a lot here.. by nature some ppl are just really rude.

i'm about to read your update... can't wait! :)

5:19 AM  
Blogger Sothis said...

Ingrid, I've been having panic attacks since I was a teen as well. It's hurt my ability to work, and I still can't drive on the highway without getting one. It's not silly--panic and stress disorders may affect up to 10% of the population according to some studies. I'm glad you are getting help and starting to see someone.

People think living in a foreign culture is easy is you speak the language--no way. I'm going through the same thing in Belgium. People seem to hear my American accent and turn off, or parade me around as the exotic freak and talk about like I'm not even there. I've found that there is not much place for foreigners here (the husband thinks I'm crazy--they speak to him so he can't understand why I am frozen out).

The more you get it out of your system (and writing is a great way I've found), the better you feel. If you need to talk, just contact me. I'm in the mirror situation in Flanders.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Ingrid said...

Hello mirror lady. You know, you are so right. In a way, as more open minded people can be in Europe, there is also the flip side of 'littleness' if that makes sense. I think that part also has to do with people literally living so close to one another. This 'look at that' or 'would you look at that' attitude. Is that what you're talking about? I think it's pretty neat that you actually can speak Dutch/Flemish because that's so much harder to learn than for a Dutch speaker to learn english. I remember that when I was back in Holland in '96 (haven't been back since), someone had heard I lived in Canada and she said to me, gee, you speak good Dutch for a Canadian! (ouch!) haha. It takes me about two weeks to get back on track speaking Dutch, because I think in English most of the time. Anyhow, we'll talk further, hang in there with these crazy people, save some stories for a good laugh because that's also a good way of dealing with things,

9:37 PM  

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