A Panic Attack

At a staff meeting my boss shared news that shocked the entire staff.  I couldn’t breathe.  I took deep breaths–but my lungs felt void of air.  The room felt heavy, somber. Tears filled my eyes rolling down my cheeks.  My boss looked at me, knowing my background and said, “looks like that hit a nerve.”  I nodded and said I was okay. She shared her own worries.

I continued to tell myself to take deep breaths. My air supply returned and I stopped tearing.  The staff meeting continued as usual. My throat tightened as I commanded myself not to cry, not to feel.

As my boss continued down her agenda, tears filled my eyes threatening once again to overflow, so I stood up and left the meeting. As I shut the door behind me and walked outside, I burst into sobs.  After a few minutes I called Dave, my husband and explained what was happening to me.  He said he was sorry and told me to go and wash my face. I still felt shaken.  I called my therapist hoping that he was between clients, but I left a tearful message instead. Thinking that my shaky voice was difficult to understand, I left a text message.  As I continued to cry, my overwhelming feelings dissipated.  I regained my composure and rejoined the meeting.

Later when I looked at my therapist’s texted response he suggested I take the day off if I needed to and that he would call later. But I texted back and said I was okay and that I had a light client load and paper work.

At home talking with Dave–he suggested that the news I heard at the meeting probably reminded me of the phone call he made the night of his first attempt.

In therapy–I realized that Dave was right. Upon hearing the news in the staff meeting, I had an emotional flashback.  I did not consciously think–“oh this is just like that night of Dave’s attempt.”  I only recall thinking–“Why?  No.”  But my mind drew a parallel, associating to the the night of Dave’s first attempt, where he called me and I desperately tried to convince him of the reasons he needed to live–That I loved him. That I needed him.  To live for our daughter who’s 6th birthday was two days away.  But though he asked me to give him a reason to live–there was nothing I could say, nothing.  It was the most helpless feeling.

And the news I heard at the staff meeting, same thing, there was nothing the co-worker could do, nothing.  And with great sadness the act was completed.

That’s my fear.  That one day Dave will complete the act. The second layer, is that Dave’s act will set in motion that my daughter will too–I wept  as I said those words aloud in my therapy session.

What I learned–is that the fear never goes away, it subsides, but something can remind me of it that could bring me back to the same feelings of that period in my life.  At the same time, this panic event also showed that I seem to be handling my anxiety better–I went outside took care of myself, went back to the meeting, carried out my week. Also the fear isn’t looming as large nor hanging around as much as it used to.

One of the strongest feelings that stayed with me after my therapy session was that I was blessed to have a therapist who comes alongside me and helps me process through times like this.  I appreciate my therapist’s help making sense of my experience in the staff meeting, expanding my awareness of what I was feeling and why, and revealing the layers of meaning that overwhelmed me into panic.

My therapist gave me a heads up that tears may continue to well up once in awhile and they have, but they don’t have that overwhelming quality to them and if I need to I can talk to Dave or put another layer of meaning on it in therapy.

The aftermath continues.  But I’m dealing better with it.

Thankful and blessed to be in therapy with an awesome therapist!

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