Friday, February 11, 2011

When Panic Creeps In

There is a day that happened three years ago, that when I think about it, my chest tightens, my breathing becomes labored and my fists clench.

I was on a plane with my husband, and we were on our way to one of our favorite cities in the whole world, Vancouver, BC. We had smiles plastered on our faces, in anticipation of spending some time together and visiting friends. I was looking forward to the fresh smell of this wonderful city, the lively downtown streets we would walk, the ocean, the dinners, the window shopping we would do!

Then my mind began to wander. I started to think of my job and the stresses I felt on a daily basis. I thought of my lack of work life balance, and how that was beginning to take it's toll on  my marriage. I was thinking of my daughter, who often at that time was in so much turmoil. A turmoil we never understood fully.

I was so hot that I started to take off my vest and the scarf I was wearing. I was shaking and my heart was beating so fast that I thought I was having a heart attack. I wanted to punch the poor guy beside me, foul language was swirling around in my head and I was screaming inside. I was terrified I would scream out loud, so loud, and the flight attendants would restrain me.

I did the only thing I could do, the only thing my logical mind was telling me to do. I got up and went to the front of the plane. All my years working for Starbucks Coffee Company taught me many things, but I was never so thankful that they taught me how to be vulnerable. At this moment I needed to be vulnerable, as I walked down the narrow isle, I envisioned trying to open the door of the airplane, or breaking a window to some air. I just wanted to be able to breathe.

With all the courage and vulnerability I could muster, I told the flight attendant what was happening. I was terrified, embarrassed, and confused. They put me under an air vent.  I remember tipping my head back, letting my shoulders relax, my hair fall back and my eyes close. Within 5 minutes or so, I was fine, I could breathe.

At the time, I said nothing to my husband. He wondered where I went, why I got out of my seat in such a hurry.

I had to come home by airplane after that trip, but I have never been on a plane again.

Several months later, I would learn that what I experienced, was a full blown panic attack.

That was the beginning of how panic crept it's way into my life.

This will have to be a "to be continued" post, because I didn't realize how hard it would be to  write.

As always, thanks for reading.

Have a great weekend everyone!



  1. Hugs to you. I suffered from panic attacks for many years. I still get the odd one, but I'm thankful that I learned to cope with them.

  2. Gee - it is s small world isn't it? My husband has severe panic/anxiety disorder (GAD) with a tendency towards depression and agoraphobia. I should write about that.

  3. I know that feeling so well I suffered for years with them, sometimes getting two or three a day, thank goodness I only get them the off time. I started to avoid all the places where I got them and pretty soon became nearly a prisoner in my home. It took me a long time to reach out for help, but I'm glad I finally did. Wishing you all my good thoughts,