I guess I've been having panic attacks for several months and just wasn't sure that was what they should be called. They've always been on my own until last night; I would usually feel a growing tension in my head for a few hours prior and then go home and start having an episode where I closed my eyes and followed my mind down into reliving my abuse. I would usually wind up on the floor in a ball crying, or having some muscle spasms and lack of control of my body (an apparent lack of control I should say, as I could always put a stop to it if I focused on putting a stop to it). For awhile these felt like very positive things...I mean, they were miserable to go through, but I was seeing glimpses of memories of my abuse that were completely new to me, and I was learning a lot about the hurt I had experienced in the past and how I reacted to it. I wanted to know.
I also know, one of those things I've been reluctant to admit, that smoking weed made it worse, to the point where smoking would pretty reliably lead to such an episode. And I've needed to stop for awhile but haven't wanted to
Well I went over to my friend's and had a smoke last night...I've been smoking daily but have been cutting down my dose more and more because I like the calming effect of a little weed but it certainly doesn't take much to get me into tense and paranoid. I also went to a strain of pot that's relatively low THC because higher THC strains have lead to these episodes and discomfort more often. I should say, I am well aware that these baby steps toward de-escalating my weed use are consistent with an inability to quit and I have to be more honest with myself...I want and need to take some time off of it for sure. In any case, my friend smokes strong hash and using his equipment meant I got a bunch of his stuff into mine and I smoked it and it was just too much for me.
I started slipping into a panic attack. I was nervous that this was a seizure or stroke, since another friend of mine just recently suffered a series of petit mal seizures and a couple grand mals due to a growth on his brain that had to be surgically removed...it's been on my mind a lot and, yeah, smoking and sitting, I guess my mind wanders to such things and the positive feedback loop begins. We were watching the F1 grand prix on the TV and I had to pause it because the noise was over-stimulating me. My friends started asking what was wrong. I was scared that I was having a seizure, he said he identified it as a panic attack immediately...it was arguably the worst one I'd had to date. I had never locked up this badly before, and the tingling sensation in my arms and legs had me scared.
I recall bargaining with myself, I'd never smoke again if I could avoid this getting any worse than it is...but it was too late. I've had months of identifying the connection between similar episodes and smoking and did nothing about it. So I reap what I sow. Will do it differently from now on. I'm certainly really fucking sick of feeling this way.
My friend actually picked me up under my armpits and shuffled me into his backyard and sat me down in a chair to get me fresh air and a change of location. I leaned my weight heavily onto him because I felt like I couldn't stand. I remember my eyes were closed. I may have been crying or maybe was just trying to breathe. I felt completely helpless. He offered me a bag to breathe into and talked me down, encouraging me to open my eyes. My ability to speak felt hampered. He asked me questions about what day it was, and it took awhile for me to figure it out but I was right. He asked me questions about my car to keep me talking.
As I came down and opened my eyes and started getting back to reality, my friends are standing there telling me "this happens to everyone. It's OK." I remember crying at just what bullshit that was. I'd never had an episode quite like this, and before the last few months can't recall having any episodes at all, and now I'm being told that most people deal with this? It was a "life really is shitty..." sorta moment.
I guess I'm still nervous that there is a physical reason behind these episodes and will be checked, but comparing notes with my friend who had the growth on his brain with my friends who clearly identified the episode as a panic attack does make me pretty sure that this is all psychosomatic. I'm 4 months from uncovering my CSA, I am two weeks into being back in my parents' home after more than 3 years away, I'm teeing up a legal battle with my old apartment complex because they're withholding a bunch of my money from me, I have more things to do around the house still, my car needs work, I need to sort out my health insurance, I need to work for my old boss remotely and manage my own time effectively, and on, and on, and on...it really makes a ton of sense that I'd be having panic attacks at this stage. I am, in truth, incredibly stressed out.
Hopefully I can get my health insurance sorted out today or tomorrow so I can get a physical check-up and start finding a new therapist, since it's now been about a month since I saw my last therapist.
Have to say I feel hugely blessed, though, that I had these friends there to see me through it. The concern they showed was genuine, the calmness with which they helped me demonstrated their empathy, and their unsolicited help showed a true love and care. I wish I could come out of such an episode and have that leave more of an impact on me...it seems like it should be the most important thing and yet I've had to actively work to think about it. Kinda seems like a lifetime of that difficulty coming to a head: a lifetime of focusing on the negative, a lifetime of fearing for myself, and missing all the love around. I really want that to change within myself.