Yesterday was Victor’s birthday and since covid numbers are finally starting to drop we decided to go to a Japanese place that we’d never been to. It was nice but much more crowded than I was used to and the many shower curtains hanging from the ceilings (for real) to stop germs from spreading made it feel even more claustrophobic and suddenly the panic attack I’d managed to fight off at the doctor’s office that morning when the nurse couldn’t find my veins in either arms started crawling out of my throat.
I have anxiety attacks pretty regularly. Heart pounding, feelings of dread, some nausea. They don’t last very long. Panic attacks are different. I only have one or two a year but they are so severe it literally feels like dying…like an actual heart attack. I’ve spent enough nights in ERs sure I was dying to know that this was a panic attack but I didn’t want to ruin Victor’s birthday so I explained that it was too loud and went outside to get some air. I walked to the back of the restaurant and paced, trying in vain to walk away from what was inside me and doing all the meditation practices while cursing the fact that I’d stopped carrying xanax with me. I suddenly felt incredibly nauseous and light-headed but I knew that if I started to throw up I wouldn’t be able to stop so I sat down on the curb at the edge of the parking lot and put my head in between my knees and prayed Victor and Hailey wouldn’t come out because I didn’t want them to see this.
And then I heard footsteps and I knew it was them but it wasn’t. It was a couple getting in their car nearby. The girl asked if I was okay and I nodded yes but she said I didn’t look okay, which was fair, and I considered just saying I’d had too much to drink or that it was the flu but instead I said, “Panic attack” and she said, “Oh, yeah. He has them too” and the guy was like, “The worst. Do you want us to sit with you or call someone or do you need to be alone?” And I said, “Alone” because being with people makes it worse somehow and they nodded and when they drove off he said from their car window, “You got this! You’re doing great!”
Reader, I was not doing great. I was on the side of the road trying not to vomit. But somehow that small encouragement from a stranger helped. I mean, it didn’t stop me from eventually getting violently sick but it helped to know that I was not alone. Or more accurately that I *was* alone because they understood what I needed but that we’ve come so far in talking about our issues that I could say “Panic attack” and have people easily understand and not treat me like a freak and instead just act like it’s okay to have a breakdown on a curb…to cheer me on rather than pity me.
I went back inside after the worst had passed and Hailey and Victor were kind and worried and I felt bad, but also so grateful to have a family that understood when I explained that I wasn’t doing well and needed to go hang out in the car. Dinner ended early. The trip to get cake was cancelled. I barely made it home before my body decided to get rid of everything inside it, making taking anti-anxiety meds impossible. Hours later I lay in bed and felt badly for Victor but he was fine, and understanding. A birthday present he ended up giving to me. Hailey snuck in and checked on me later, our normal roles reversed.
Today I am a limp rag of exhaustion and my brain is mushy…the usual after-effects of a truly bad panic attack. In spite of the fact that I know this isn’t my fault I still feel some guilt and shame. But whenever I do I remind myself of that kid in the parking lot cheering at me like I was a football player making a goal (is that what they do? I don’t know sports) while the girl he was with smiled encouragingly like all of this was perfectly normal.
Panic attacks are not normal. And I hate them. But I love that we’ve come so far that empathy for a person’s struggle is normal…and that we’ve come to a place where it’s not a shameful secret but something that brings us together. It makes me hopeful.
If my mind was less mushy I would make this all wrap up in a lovely way and add something funny but I’m still not entirely myself (but getting there) so instead I’ll just say that I wanted to write this down in case that couple from the parking lot happens to read this. So that they understand how they helped. And so that you understand that you are not alone. That none of us are, really, if you know where to look.
114 thoughts on “The world is changing. And that’s a good thing, I think.”
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“I love that we’ve come so far that empathy for a person’s struggle is normal…and that we’ve come to a place where it’s not a shameful secret but something that brings us together. It makes me hopeful.” THIS. Empathy is a wonderful thing, and we need more of it in this world.
Still a lovely ending, written-wise. I’m sorry you get those.
What an education you just provided for me. Thank you so much. I’ll do my best to be the right kind of help if it’s every needed. You’re pretty marvelous, but if that’s the wrong thing to say, just ignore me.
Thankful for the couple who stopped to help you. I wish I didn’t understand this, but I do. I also believe the world is changing. I’ve been very open about mental health issues and it can be off putting to people, but that isn’t my issue. I’m done being ashamed of who I am. And if I say that enough, it will actually be true!
You are definitely not alone. I have been there too. Once we called for an ambulance because I thought I was dying and my husband didn’t know what to do. I remember them having me breathe into a paper bag (which I thought was a myth) and it helped a bit. The feelings after of pain in my arms and hands going back to normal were also so scary. So glad you are better today and we are always strongest at our broken and mended parts. You got this!
I’m so glad you have people in your life who understand things like panic attacks. And thank goodness for those kind people out in the world. We have definitely come a long way towards acceptance and understanding of mental illness; it’s slowly but surely losing its stigma. Gentle hugs your way and happy belated birthday to Victor 💜
This is a beautiful story! It gives me hope for the world.
Here’s the deal. There is no “normal.” As a retired scientist, we use the mean (average) to determine if our perturbations in a system are real or not.
However, there is nothing unnatural in being human. We are natural beings. As long as you’re not committing crimes to humanity and respecting consent, you’re normal.
We all fit on the curve differently; we’re all doing the best we can with the tools we have been given.
I’m not religious, but I love Jesus as a philosopher. He said, “Judge not lest you be judged.” And I think that starts with one’s self and then radiates out.
Thank you for sharing…and Happy Birthday to Victor. Today is “one of those” for me and it does help to know that even if I’m alone I’m not. It will pass. The day will get brighter and life will go on….and it is usually beautiful. I send you love and spoons. Be Well.
People really are very kind. So glad you had that small act of understanding and kindness. It can soften the really hard things we go through.
Sending love 💕 I get this a lot. I have frequent anxiety attacks, too, and fewer panic attacks. I’m grateful there were caring folks who knew what to ask and what to do.
Happy birthday to Victor, and so much love to all of you! 💕💕
Thank you for giving me some tips on how to a situation like this if I should encounter it myself. With COVID and everything else, I’m rarely out and about, but if I do see something like this, I’ll know how to help. You offer such a wealth of information for those of us who want to help. Thank you for sharing.
Sending love from a place of understanding. And belatedly wishing Victor a happy birthday. Big safe hugs if wanted <3
Thank you for sharing this, Jenny. I don’t know anyone who has panic attacks but now I know what to say and do if I see someone having one. I appreciate this post. Happy Birthday to Victor
Thank you so much for this Jenny. I’m having a really hard time right now (I’m coloring in “You Are Here” and re-listening to all your books from Audible. I have the paperbacks too!) And I really needed to read this today. Bless you honey, much love, You are our Valiant Warrior Goddess even sitting on the curb and throwing up. Never stop being you. I love you! 🤗💖
Your story is so lovely. I had something slightly similar happen to me. I live in Kansas and recently had to drop my only child off in New York City to start college. All the walking was killing my messed up back and I was an emotional wreck. At one point I waited outside a store alone while my husband and daughter shopped inside. I was so overwhelmed by pain and grief that I squatted down on the sidewalk to try to relieve some of the pressure on my back and collect myself. Within seconds, a stranger stopped to ask if I was ok. With tears in my eyes I said yes, my back just hurts. It was so comforting to know that even though I was leaving my barely 18 year old daughter alone in the biggest city in the country that there are nice people everywhere.
Alone or not i still want to die. Funny or not i still want to die. Even bring the number one person people were thankful for in the crazy bin last month still didn’t make me less crazy.
(I am sending you so much love. It sounds like you’re going through a ton of bullshit and I know how disheartening and exhausting that is. Keep fighting. Keep reaching out for help. Remember that depression lies. I hear those lies a lot myself. ~ Jenny)
I really needed to read this today, thank you. So you took their kind act of caring and paid it forward to me, and I will do the same. Wishing you a peaceful day and many blessings.
I really wish they’d come up with a better Xanax delivery system. Like in an inhaler form. Hang in there. ❤️
Your ability to find the positive in an otherwise highly negative feeling is so admirable! I hope you know the comfort you bring to those of us who battle with these same demons.
I love that you wrote this all down. So many times anonymous acts of kindness don’t go viral, while the worst human behavior does. Hooray for that couple and I hope you feel better. And now I’ll know to ask if someone wants to be alone or have company rather than assume.
I wish none of us experienced this but I’m glad you got what needed most, comfort. The irony isn’t lost on me that you were comforted in a tone when there is no comfort to be found. Sending you hugs like you’ve sent me plenty of times before! 😉
When I need to be reminded that I’m not alone, I usually come here. I’m glad you found that (or it found you) out in the world when you needed it.
This made me cry…grateful tears for the fact that there are more kind people in the world than assholes…and for that young couple being in your path exactly when you needed evidence of that. Hang in there, Jenny. As the gent said, you got this!
Pacing, wanting to crawl out of your own skin, wanting to run away…. but where? I hate panic attacks. And people talking to me makes it worse. Lucky you came across somebody that understood! I recently started talking to a guy, and I told him that I do fine a lot of the time, but there are days when I’m knocked down with panic/anxiety and that a lot of people I’ve dated don’t have the patience for it or even act offended. But, he said that he was very aware of anxiety and asked me what he should do to help me if it happens. Of course I had no answer because every time is different, but I thought it was sweet that he acknowledged it instead of not taking it seriously like most people do. Hang in there! xoxo
I am grateful you are willing to share these awful moments, but I wish you didn’t have to go through them.
The couple was right, you have got this!
I deal with panic attacks too and add on top of it all I have night terrors and I sleepwalk (I have stairs in my apartment, and yes I fall down them all the time) and I was trying to figure out where the rest of the pie went (also eat in my sleep 💤) and trying not to lose it but I managed to get through it too. I live in a place where there’s a church on every corner so folks “don’t get it” I’m not originally from here so finding anything close to understanding is rare.
I’m so very sorry yours didn’t end well but you are a real inspiration to me.
Since I took my last 4 Xanax (in my sleep 💤) today has been a challenge and reading your post has made me not feel so alone. I’m not sure who said this, but it’s not that God is deliberately doing this but He is watching to see if I’m going to come to Him, how I sort of deal with this incident. I’m choosing to believe that I’m not alone, but sometimes you just need a Jesus with skin on him!
Love you, praying for you and your family (Happy birthday Victor!)@
and look forward, always, to your posts. God uses people, I believe, to speak for Him and He used you a lot to let me know I got this! I got a blessing from you, He blessed me through you!
Thanks for showcasing a bright spot in an otherwise depressing world. I’m glad you got to know that not only your family cares about and accepts that sometimes you can’t do everything they would like to be able to do with you, but also strangers can be kind and helpful.
You got this.
You would do the same for anyone at anytime. You have a huge heart and you are so brave to share this with all of us. I know you feel all kind of things about the timing, but if it was you in the restaurant and Victor on the curb, you would do as they did- love you and wish you felt better. Thank you for telling us about the right kind of help.
I, too, suffer from debilitating panic attacks, on top of living with a high level of anxiety on a daily basis. I, too, have ruined my fair share of family/friend gatherings because I get violently ill. It lasts for days. I totally empathize with how you feel today. Let me also add that when these attacks happened when I was a child, my parents forced me to participate in whatever was going on. I’m happy to say, that nearly 30 years later, my husband and kid understand what happens to me and are more supportive. It still sucks, but at least I don’t have to feel so alone in my struggle. I’m so sorry this happened to you! I love that your family loves and understands your struggle…and so do I, a total stranger. I wish I knew how to fix these panic attacks. They are literally, so painful.
Love this post. I had my first and last panic attacks in 2015, 4 of them, the year my mom died of cancer. I was 38. Even then, no one I was with understood. It always happened in situations I felt I had no control in. Thankfully, I’ve had some anxiety attacks since then, but no more panic attacks. I’m on meds of course and have Ativan if I get close (which I also never seem to carry on me). I love that the world is changing to better understand mental issues.
I am glad that compassion exists. My fifth grader is struggling and repetitively yelled I want to go home for over 45 minutes yesterday after going between the nurse and class and the counselors office and by the time I came to help calm his anxiety attack the school counselor had him eating his lunch and chatting up a storm. He got quarantined the end of the second week of school because a classmate had covid, we assume, seeing the kids closest to him dismissed. And was virtual last year. Sometimes I’m jealous of how he can just turn it into this outwaad expression and my panic ravages my inside while I cease to be able to function because the walls are caving in. There would have been a day where he would be equated to a kid throwing a tantrum and he very much doesn’t want to be in that frame of mind. He doesn’t need his feelings invalidated and explained to him. He only needs someone to witness his pain until it gets better. It was everything in me today to not go pick him up but he needs to go to school. He just needs to adjust back and work to feel safe. I’m glad you understand when you need help and know it isn’t your fault. People who don’t get mental illness, like they didn’t when I was taught to just figure it out have no idea how hard it is to exist and how much panic I had before I was treated. My friend said I once talked to her about a twenty minute conversation with my spouse for four days from the time I woke up until she’d stop responding at night. I would panic literally 1000s of times a day until I got treated properly. I asked why she’d message me and let me do that and she said, because it’s hard to be alone in the dark.
I always feel guilty like I need to get my shit together but sometimes you have to let it go to get it together. This is why I have a Zophran prescription, my meds need to stay down too
Crying. Glad I’m home. Glad you are doing better. And for some reason, “Dropkick Me, Jesus, Through The Goalposts of Life” suddenly popped into my head.
You’re doing freakin amazing and I’m so proud of you. When you feel better get Victor cake and have another celebration at home. Two birthday celebrations are better then one anyway. Just no lamas Victor gets cranky when you bring farm animals in the house for some reason
I wouldn’t have thought a (sort of) stranger’s intense nausea and subsequent barfing would give me goosebumps. And maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was the kids in the car cheering the imminent barfing. In fact, hopefully that was it. Either way. Goosebumps. And a feeling that while the world may be pretty borked up in a lot of ways…in some ways it is truly improving and slightly less borked.
Thank you so much for sharing this blog. I am struggling with daily panic attacks right now and it’s gotten me really, really down. I hope yours improve. I agree that encouragement helps. I have a couple of friends, including the one who sent me your blog, and when they express their faith in me that “I’ve got this”- it really does help. I agree with you.
I’ve had a few of those, too, and they are terrifying. I wanted to just leave my body, run away and leave it to freak out on its own. It sucked so bad.
I’m glad you have people around you who understand. It really does make a world of difference, even if all they can do for you is leave you alone.
Ok this made me cry, but mostly because I am so happy that in the moment, people understood what was happening, understood to ask you what you needed, and to give it to you. And even more so because your family understands what happened, understand what you needed to do, and let you do it. That kind of understanding and acceptance means everything. The world is totally borked up, but not all the people are. Glad you are starting to feel better.
Oh you are not alone! I think you would be surprised at how many people have panic attacks! I know of 2 myself!
My twelve year old son asked to see his psychiatrist yesterday because he knows he is spiraling. The world is changing. May the panic we vomit light the way. Thank you.
We got this … ? … Sometimes!
You brought tears to my eyes, Jenny. Eight weeks ago we were taking our reactive dog to a fenced park out of hours so he could have a run. My ankle rolled and I fell into a heap at the side of the road. Broke it in three places. 🙁
While my wife called the ambulance, at least 8 people stopped during those twenty five minutes or so, asking if I was all right. Two people had first aid and came over to see if they could do anything. Another lady brought me a blanket and waited with us until the ambulance came.
I have spent years mostly housebound with illness, and COVID brought a whole ‘nother level to our isolation, but I was so moved. People were so good. I was so grateful. I’m grateful some people were good to you. There’s a lot of ugly stuff in the world, but we can’t lose sight of the good people. <3
I hope the people that “helped” you will eventually read this! They may not even know that what they did actually helped. And I love that not everything you write gets wrapped in a pretty bow because that’s not real life…hugs!
This meant a lot to me today. Thank you.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I love how they asked you what you needed and then honored that – so crucial.
I used to get panic attacks regularly when I was processing major trauma from my childhood, but luckily with years of therapy and medication that works pretty well I only get them occasionally now, but I CAN RELATE. Panic attacks are HORRIBLE. I remember feeling like I was dying, wanting to throw up, and some of the other things you described, Jenny.
I’m so glad the couple stopped and were able to empathize, and that Victor and Hailey understand. Be gentle with yourself as you recover, and thank you for sharing your struggles.
I cried through reading this. So glad you had cheerleaders to help boost you through a horrible event and I’m even more glad you have Victor and Hailey to support you at all times. Thank you for sharing this with everyone — my hope is that talking about mental health will one day be as common as talking about diabetes. Until then, *hugs*
My sister, now no longer living, used to get panic attacks. This was a decade ago and people stared at her or said rude things which made it so much worse. Im grateful we seem to be making progress in terms of being open about our various issues. Im grateful they were kind to you. I miss my sister every day and when I read your stories it makes me feel closer to her. Thanks for sharing the journey. I hope you can feel the hug and love I am sending from Vegas.
I didn’t know about panic attacks! Thanks for educating me. Hope you get well soon.
Hi, I’m sure you’ve tried this as a panic veteran, but I carry sublingual Clonazepam (ODT). If you can get it under your tongue before the barfing really gets you, or after, I find it to be helpful. Hang in there, I know how much it sucks!
I am still teared up from reading this. What love! And yes, I too am hopeful that this younger generation is so open and supportive about mental health that it will “stick” and it will last
Wait! The constant nausea I have is part of my anxiety?!! Why has no one ever told me this?!
It makes so much sense.
And I’m glad more people are understanding. And to you: You’re not alone. Even at the bottom if you manage to look around. You’re not alone.
It is encouraging isn’t it, to experience people being understanding and helpful instead of judgmental. As horrible as this whole covid thing has been I do feel like that’s a part of it, I’ve seen a significant shift in the whole concept of ‘mental health’ throughout the pandemic as people were forced to isolate and more people needed help coping.
There are still good people in the world, and I’m glad you encountered two of them when you were so vulnerable. Take care of yourself, and please try not to feel any guilt about it. You deserve it!
So thankful that the medical community and the general public are becoming informed on mental health issues. Jenny, you are a beautiful part of that education. Thank you! Panic attacks are awful. Many years ago when my Dr said, “Well, it’s just a panic attack. You’re fine” I wanted to scratch his eyes out. I most certainly was NOT fine. And anti-anxiety meds make me sick. Can’t keep them down, so I just have to ride it out.
Happy Birthday to Victor and what a great thing that he and Hailey are so supportive and understanding.
I have anxiety and panic attacks and my husband has anxiety and depression and panic attacks and it’s so hard to find people who understand and who don’t want to smother you with fussing over you or try and “fix things” or don’t think it’s real, or it’s “all in your head.”
Thank goodness the young couple asked you what you needed and honored your wishes. Isn’t it beautiful that mental health issues are becoming more understood and people are much more respectful and don’t look at you like you’re an alien being, even when you feel so awful and embarrassed and guilty about not wanting to spoil your family or friends good time? I had a parent who used to just put a “throw up bucket” in the car and made me go everywhere all the time regardless of whether I had a migraine or a panic attack or anxiety and was throwing up from one or all of those things.
Sending lots of virtual hugs your way and to any of your commenters who need them. Re-entering the public world after being in covid lockdown and social distancing for so long, is so stressful and anxiety triggering for so many of us, I think there are a lot more of us who are struggling than ever before. It’s going to take a while before I can handle being indoors in a crowded place.
You stopped carrying xanax – well, I still have a few in a raincoat pocket (I’m in Oregon, it rains enough that they are with me often) – but my go to is that if I do have another one I do have a med to take to help (even though the med makes me feel yucky also, just not in an ‘i’m about to die’ kind of way).
We still aren’t going out to eat – I’m not surprised that that triggered your attack, especially in a loud and claustrophoic place (more things that get to me in a negative way).
So glad you have a supportive family. It is so hard for people who don’t have full on anxiety to understand. Some people can add to our own guiltiy feelings of it ‘being our fault’, so a supportive family is a treasure.
And kudos to the girl and man who knew what questions to ask and that they honored your answer.
We need more people like that.
Thank you, Jenny, for helping so many people, in ways like this, so we know that we are not alone, that we are here for each other. We do appreciate you.
I know you have like a thousand positive comments but still… Today I brought in to work “Broken” because I work at a non traditional university and there are so many students who would benefit from reading it. While I wanted to horde it, I know that sharing it is for the greater good. While there are no easy solutions, it’s important for them to be aware that they are not alone. Thank you for that. ♥️ Our students are the best and when reminded of that, they succeed beyond belief
That is just the sweetest, I love these strangers. I hope they are your message. Get well soon.
oh jenny, love that you have such a remarkable family and you met such encouraging people, doesn’t matter where!!! love,me
You do “got this!” Knock it outta the park, Miss Jenny.
My panic attacks used to force me to irrationally lay on the ground, wherever I was, with my cheek pressed flat to the ground. I guess so I wouldn’t fly away. I have done this in the ER, at restaurants, in people’s bathrooms. Once, a waitress, said to my mom, “is she having a panic attack? Cuz I can understand that. She can take her time”. That comment did not help my attack, but somehow, it DID help the attack. Cuz it helped the guilt that I was fudging up every one else’s time.
Thank you for sharing that. I hope you get a long break before you have to go through that again.
Through your teaching (and others) folks are learning it’s okay to have anxiety and panic attacks. They are learning to reach out. You teach so many people. While it cramps your style (and your family’s), life goes on and that’s a good thing. Thank you to Victor, Hailey, and you for good stewards and leaders ❤️❤️❤️❤️
More than meets the eye! I knew it! Your a transformer! Lol Thank you for always sharing your struggles. It helps the rest of us so very much.
I’m glad you got through it and I’m glad you wrote it down for so many people to read. I’m also glad to hear about that nice couple. Always good to read that there truly are still good people in the world that are kind to others. I read too much of the opposite these days. Thank you for sharing <3
Today was not a good day, for House of Penguins.
Full Blown Panic Attack was narrowly averted, but the residual effects are still harsh.
Awkward Penguin fist bump of solidarity, Pocket Friend.
Thank you for sharing a way in which the world is better than it used to be. I never get to see improvements anymore, and it’s been slowly tearing me apart.
Thank goodness the struggles are finally out of the closet. So many more people take our mental illness in stride than did back when I first struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. Jenny, your panic attack reminds me of a way-too-public one I experienced in the late 70s. It occurred at a young woman’s recital in a tiny church packed with audience and dead silent except for her music. When the panic/claustrophobia struck I had no choice but to jump up without a word to my companion, squeeze past several strangers in my row to reach the aisle, and charge out of the building as fast as possible. Just walked and walked up and down hills in the dark, then went back to face my companion—who knew the musician and invited me to the recital. Thank goodness she was an understanding individual. Now that I have the support of an SSRI and lorazapam, I carry both with me at all times, just in case. Very rarely need them, but knowing they’re available averts potential attacks.
Ahem. YOU are one of the BIG reasons that “we’ve come so far that empathy for a person’s struggle is normal…and that we’ve come to a place where it’s not a shameful secret but something that brings us together.”
Just in case all the previous commenters haven’t all pointed this out.
When my anxiety and panic attacks are on the fringes of my mind, I think of YOU and re-read some passages from your books.
I’ve never commented before but had to in order to say this in case you can’t hear me yelling it. YOU have helped me and millions of other people more than you will ever know.
Thank you so much for that. xo
I love that you had so much support in that moment & people who were willing to hold space for you and ask you what you needed rather than assume they knew how best to help. I had an MRI yesterday & the nurse brought me to a locker room & handed me a gown and told me to put everything I had including my backpack into one of the lockers and go into the holding area to wait and by the way they were running 45 minutes behind schedule. My anxiety brain wanted to bolt and the part of me my mother taught to “go along and do exactly what you’re told” stood up for herself and mentioned the mental health issues that were clearly documented in my paperwork. The nurse took another look at my backpack and a lightbulb went off over her head. She said “That’s your mental health toolbox, right? Of course you can take it along with you – we want you to be comfortable.” I kept it with me right up until I went in the MRI room and they even let me keep one of my “MRI safe” fidgets with me during the MRI – I could’ve been an absolute mess, but I wasn’t – because I was heard and my needs were taken into account.
I really think you are one of the reasons the world is changing. Your books and posts freed me to acknowledge and (awkwardly) embrace my own anxiety/panic/PTSD. Reading your books and also your coloring book have helped me so much to find some peace and work with the ebb and flow. The rabbit pic I colored is over my bed, because it reminds me I can fight even when I am frightened. And humbly, thank you. Do what you need to do to recover. Sending healing vibes.
Ah, I relate to everything you went through. Every feeling, emotion, guilt, all of it. What I don’t relate to is the support by strangers as well as those you love the most. To have someone who allows you to function as you are, love you, understand, support you whether they understand or not – I so wish I could have that. Not to lessen your post, because I live parallel to you and am so encouraged by your words, humor, abilities, and life. Thank you for sharing your life, it helps me manage mine. I don’t know how to say how much that means. Sending peace.
Thank you as always for being so beautifully raw and open. I’m thankful that it seems there are much more, and healthier, conversations about mental health these days, and I’m thankful that you have people who love and support you, even when they can’t always understand everything you’re dealing with. I wish for everyone dealing with these and other mental health issues that they might have at least one solid person in their life that can do the same. As your story demonstrates, one person can make all the difference sometimes!
Some people like to bad mouth the Millennials, but I believe that they are the generation that will finally give mental health the attention that it needs. They get it. I’m so glad that two of those people that get it were there for you when you needed them.
It’s true that people like you who are open with their struggles will help us get there. Hope you feel better soon. (((Hugs)))
When I was 12 years old, my mother took me with her on a department-store buying trip in the 1960s. Walking down a crowded New York City street we came across a man lying prone in the middle of the sidewalk. I tugged my mom’s hand and said that we have to do something–something is wrong with him. My mom pulled me along and said that we can’t do anything for someone like that and pretty-much pretended he didn’t exist. I have never forgotten that, and I remember nothing more of my first trip to New York City. It bothered me for a long time, and, to some degree, still does.
So, yes, the world has changed. But that event changed me, too, into a young girl who swore she would never be like her mother. So even the smallest change can make a big difference. Remember that the children are watching and learning, for better or for worse.
I cannot imagine knowing things are happening and not able to stop them…..but I am better educated in case I am around someone when it occurs. I won’t be afraid to offer help, and will better understand if they refuse. And you have a loving, supportive family which many might not have through these episodes….be kind to yourself and give them hugs from all your fans!
Virtual hug and high five! My daughter has these but she’s never explained them like this. Thank you! PS cake is overrated!
Panic attacks are not normal – but enough people have them that random people in parking lots can relate and know how to help sooo…does that make them normal? I don’t want you or anyone to have them but clearly you are not alone. Feel better!
I’m so sorry you had/have to experience this. I really enjoy reading your blog. Thanks so much.
I love this, I love the couple that checked in & respected your space while giving support, I love you for being strong enough to be honest where most might hide, and I wish you a restorative weekend 🧡 I’ve been struggling the past few days, and reading something honest and positive did help. Thank you.
Bless you for taking the time to share – fist bumps all around!
Jan 17, 2020 — They Whispered To Her, ‘You Cannot Withstand The Storm.’ She Whispered Back, ‘I Am The Storm’ Author: Storm Achiever.
Jenny, you are the storm, the force behind the wind of change. I am beyond grateful for your stories, your honesty, your vivid descriptions of the reality you’re living. Thank you so much.
The world is indeed changing. It takes a few to blaze the trail to help the rest of us. I appreciate all you’ve done to bring focus to the issues so many of us face. You are awesome and I hope you have a day of much-deserved R&R. Sending love and light your way! <3
I don’t know about Xanax, but lorazepam can be taken sublingually; that is, under your tongue, and this is yes, kind of chalky, but 1. it gets into your system faster and 2. vomiting afterwards doesn’t stop it and 3. it doesn’t require swallowing anything. Xanax is in the same family of medications, but I don’t know how it’s formulated, so maybe ask your doctor about the “so… is there an anti-anxiety option for when I’m vomiting?” question, because there are answers! (also anti-nausea meds that are not oral-route; skin patches and suppositories in addition to the sublingual ones)
(but also yes! that it is allowed to call a panic attack a panic attack: this is glorious!!!)
Remember the last time you ended up in the ER? Your lactate level was through the roof. That was your neuronal mitochondria screaming HELP! When mitochondria (fuel rods) can’t make enough energy for the cell, lactic acid is produced. Anyone one with a mitochondrial disorder would recognize your “spoons” analogy as vital for survival. High lactate produces acidosis. Acidosis results in all the symptoms you described. You had 2 major stressors in1 day? Experimentalists say they can induce a panic attack in anyone if they drop the pH low enough.
After 40 years of working in psych-related fields, I now use baking soda to prevent my incapacitating anxiety. If sodium is a problem, potassium bicarbonate can be used (Alka-Seltzer Gold). I use pH paper to check my urine acidity (Amazon, $9 one year’s supply). I send blessings to the young couple in the car park.
Oh Jenny, thank you so much for sharing this. Panic attacks will suck the life essence out of you and leave you like a ragdoll. And I don’t mean like a cute ragdoll kitten. I mean like some one button eye missing, dragged in mud, most of the stuffing gone ragdoll.
One day instead of being Nowhere I will be NowHere and hope to meet you …. awkwardly.
Have you seen the article in Newsweek about LSD studies? it looks very interesting.
I just started working at a hair salon where the owner lost all of her stylists and is the only person in the shop. She specifically hired me because she needed someone to talk to so her depression and anxiety don’t get out of control and I told her she was my people. I still do a little cleaning up and washing and folding towels, but it’s mostly so she doesn’t have a panic attack and I said, “I’ve totally got you. How many hours do you need?”
It is wonderful that this is coming out into the open and that we see each other now. We compared anti-anxiety meds and panic attacks and it’s amazing to me that she is paying me for this. And now she’s part of my very small tribe of people who understand mental illness.
I’m so sorry you had to go through such a bad one. I hope you’re feeling more like yourself soon and that your new computer does amazing things that you would have to Google.
Hi Jenny. I relate to everything you wrote and now finally have proof of the connection between panic and nausea. Can we talk about dental phobia? I retired on August 31 but unfortunately I had a lot of dental work that needed doing. I have extreme dental phobia so I never make appointments but my tooth broke and I had to go in. I ended up needing many appointments and I would compare the anxiety and panic I felt up to a week before each appointment as torture. Yes, I got nitrous oxide but I still panicked. Uncontrollable shaking, hyperventilating, uncontrollable grunting noises, inability to swallow, sweats, and nausea. I have a good and kind dentist and it got a little easier as each appointment ended but it’s been a really shitty way to start my retirement. My last appointment was almost 4 hours long. I foolishly insisted on doing crowns for two bridges on each side of my bottom teeth. My jaw was so sore afterwards from “opening wide” for that whole time. NEVER get two procedures done on the same day. As I write this, I have one more appointment to remove the temporary crowns and put on the permanent bridges. I know this was my own fault for neglecting my teeth but dental phobia for someone with depression and anxiety is a very real thing and it sucks. Thanks for reading.
If anyone reading this struggles with panic attacks/anxiety attacks or anxiety in general I find that Reiki energy healing is really helpful for me.
I cannot take medication right now (long story) and I find it to be my comfort and help. I play the anxiety video when my brain starts to “feel weird” as if it’s threatening to go into a panic attack and it helps bring it down. There are many other videos I tune into on that channel that have really helped me. Here is the anxiety video I tune into as well as a depression video:
The Reiki master I tune into on YouTube is Divine White Light (she does distance healing, holds her hands up toward the camera). When doing reiki, I’m open to the process and drink water after the sessions. I’m also a religious person so I pray before those-I ask for God’s help. You don’t have to do that, but that’s just me and what I do.
I don’t replace medical care with Reiki. Reiki is simply one of the tools I have in my self-care tool box. Hope this helps!!! Hugs!!
Sending hugs! We HAVE come a long way, baby! Many of us suffer from some sort of mental illness, some do it silently but now we can be open and feel comfortable talking about it. Let’s keep the conversation going!
That is just AWESOME. So awesome that we’ve come this far with talking openly about mental illness. It is so awesome, it made me cry, which is what I do every time anything affects me in a remotely emotional way. Mad? cry. Sad? cry. Happy? cry. Frustrated? cry.
Thank goodness enough people now know more about mental health. It has helped me, although my family still views it as not good. But a little understanding is better than none.
So glad those folks stopped to talk to you!
I wonder how Hailey is doing. I had to deal with a mom that had every mental illness known to man. Fortunately, my Dad got custody when I was three years old. I got out of visitation at 17 and never looked back. When I was 7 years old, her pychiatrist told me it was hereditary. It freaked me out until I decided Fiji was a place that would accept a person who was losing their mind. At 62 years old, I’ve lived a very full life without Fiji.
You are so not alone.
I once had a crying jag in Safeway due to a depressive anxiety attack. Standing in the produce area, I felt as if my whole world was crumbling around me. A beautiful 20 something Asian woman stopped. Handed me a tissue and asked, “Panic attack?” I said “anxiety.” She smiled and said, ” we got you.” She and her wonderful boyfriend stayed with me and helped me shop. I am forever grateful. This new world is a good thing.
Thank you for this. I do not suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, but I do struggle with anxiety as I’m getting older. I have mild panic attacks at night occasionally. We HAVE come a long way in so many ways, but my parents’ generation is still hesitant to ask for help, to admit to depression, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed. My new mantra day-to-day, when things go sideways, is “Life is Messy.” Because it is. Thanks so much for sharing.
Thank you for sharing this. As someone who is a parent of a child that has depression/anxiety/agoraphobia/panic, it’s a relief to know we’re not alone out there.
My first family DOES treat me like a freak for having a mental illness and they think I’m being rude when I suddenly leave a place due to a panic attack so this was so good to read; the fact that something so abnormal is being normalized lifted my heart a little bit out of the puddle in which it’s been drowning for so long. Maybe one day, when I heal, and if I want, I’ll find people who accept me exactly for who I am and can be worried, kind and encouraging all in just the right amounts. Until then I’m grateful to have my own curiosity, compassion and care, to have made it this far and done so much. Have a good day, eh?
Thank you so much! You just helped me name something that happened last week. An anxiety attack. It was an anxiety attack. Being able to name it helps.
Hugs and love for days. Sorry you went through that, but you got through it. And that is what counts. There are understanding and caring people out there. More than we realize.
Hey there! Know that we see you, we support you, and we love you. You have helped me more than you know via your wit, intelligence, and your adept wordplay – throughout the years. Been following you (not IRL!) for a long time, even during the horrible BushCo years.
I’m sitting in my car crying. No reason. Just crying. I haven’t been quite right all day but I kept going through the motions. I had to pick my teen son from school. We pulled up in front of the house. He was like, what are you doing? And so I said I don’t want to go in there. And he asked where I wanted to go and I replied nowhere. Just not in the house. He said mom sometimes I don’t want to go in either. Because I’m depressed and I know if I go in there because I’ll just go lay in the bed. I didn’t know whether to be proud that he understood where I was coming from and offered about as much support as you can get from a teen son. Or to be sad that this happens too.
I told him to go inside and get a snack.
We’re not alone. There are others who get it. And there are others that get why even knowing that doesn’t make it go away in that moment, unfortunately
I hope it goes away for both of us soon.
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I love that you were able to get what you needed during the panic attack. <3