Friday, September 30, 2011

my journey from panic to calm, part two

I had made it through the plane ride here swimmingly. I had tools to handle it now - and I remembered to use them. This visit was going fairly well, all things considered.

Hubby wanted to take us to play mini golf - to have a family day, just the three of us. We'd been doing so many social things and running here and there trying to meet up with folks - he just wanted us to have family time. He'd found this coupon for half off or something at a place called St. Louis Mills. Now, I don't know if this is the biggest mall ever built, but it is certainly the biggest indoor space I have ever been in - and the biggest mall in St. Louis. This place is huge. It gives me a sense of what Mumbai must be like. Note: I will never, ever go there. I simply cannot handle the thought of an entirely indoor world. I NEED fresh air and open sky for my well-being.

Back to mini-golf. We get to the Mills and there is a train that goes halfway around the mall. Kiernen and I decide to ride it. Inside the train is small, and it is difficult to see the mall when we're inside it, but I do notice that the ride is quite long - halfway around the mall takes a good 20 minutes, if I remember correctly (and it is likely that I don't given the rest of the day). We return to the starting point and begin to walk around the mall to find the mini-golf part, which is apparently indoors. As is the go-kart track. And the rock climbing. We find the mini-golf, which is all glow-in-the-dark and freaky, and there is spooky music playing that has Kiernen say, "NO way, this is too scary," and to be honest, I was glad. We decide to see what else there is to offer, and within minutes of walking around the place, I am feeling the familiar body temperature rise, the sweating, the nausea, the panic, and the claustrophobia.

Surprised, I let Hubby know that I have to get out of there right now, and I go outside. And I breathe.  And the panic goes away. I am restored. Hubby and Kiernen came outside shortly after - Kiernen might have liked the arcade, but Hubby really wanted a day we all spent together - not me outside while they stayed and played.

Fast forward to yesterday, where our friend had invited us to come and hang out of his Dad's houseboat. It stays docked in the Marina, while they take the Sea-Doo out for rides when they want to move in the water. This sounded doable to me, because having not had experience with this, I didn't quite grok that a boat docked in a marina is still in the water, and this means it is subject to the movement of the water, which translates to gentle rocking. Oh.

I take my motion sickness medicine - I'm not going to ruin the fun for my boys just because I cannot hack the boat movement - and there is a dock, and there is land nearby I can ground on if need be. I feel me body temperature start to rise when I've been on the boat for awhile, so I breathe and I tap, "The motion of the boat," for about two minutes. I am completely fine for the rest of the day and I enjoy our visit to the boat - it is even fun! I actually like it! And because we've never been on a houseboat before, everything is new and interesting and fascinating. It was a brilliant day.

And while the boys are off in the Sea-Doo (I'm not that brave yet with my motion sickness), I walk and reflect and I realize something. What I thought was just motion sickness all this time might well have been panic attacks.  It may well be my limbic brain remembering the incident on the plane, and feeling a similar feeling (the actual motion sickness), immediately triggering fight or flight and going into panic. So all those times I thought it was JUST motion sickness (body temperature rise, sweating, migraines, nausea), it was actually my having panic attacks triggered by my limbic brain having that body memory on the plane.

And because I am no longer having many of those symptoms, I am able to see THAT connection - it all started on the plane - and the motion sickness can be brought down to just that - motion sickness. Which can be handled by my just taking the motion sickness pill. It is even possible that I don't need the pill itself, and baby steps - I'm not quite ready to let go of that particular crutch just yet. But just knowing those were panic attacks and being able to separate them because of the symptoms from the actual motion sickness allows me to be able to handle them much more easily. Ah, body temperature rise and sweating means breathe and tap, because this is a panic attack. Breathe and tap, "This situation," for less than two minutes, and I am fine.

Beautiful.

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