The panic attack hit me on a Monday. I called in sick to work on Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday, I still felt nervous and nauseous. It was not a typical butterflies in the stomach feeling. It was more like I had just come face to face with King Kong, or worse the clown from Poltergeist, or even worse a flying cockroach! It was not normal. I was not sure how I was going to feel going back to work, or what I refer to as the “scene of the crime”. I knew it was going to be difficult, but did not imagine it would be impossible.
I got ready in the morning and drove to work like I always did. Walking into the building and towards my office was surreal. Again, it was like an out-of-body experience. I was there, walking down the halls, but I was distant. I was smiling as I walked, but underneath it all, my mind was yelling for me to GET OUT! I had nausea and my heart was beating very fast, but I continued to take deep breaths and put one foot in front of the other. It was the same office I had been working in for several years with no issue, but now I felt like I did not belong there. I knew I could not give in to whatever this feeling was because I needed my job and had work to do. I just kept walking, smiling, saying good morning and finally made it to my desk. I put my purse away, sat down and logged in to my computer.
I could not focus on anything on the screen. I read through emails, but did not really pay attention to what I was reading. I was too concerned with my physical state. I knew I had to distract myself with something easy and mindless, so I began organizing and cleaning my desk. In the meantime, co-workers were coming in and out asking how I was feeling. I couldn’t really talk or I would start crying, so I would just smile and say “I’m ok, thank you!” I was anything but ok, but I tried to pretend everything was fine, hoping that with time, it would just go away. By the time lunch came around I was mentally and physically exhausted. I was just sitting at my desk, but because I was so worked up, I felt like I had just run a 5K. I went to my car to get away from the office and clear my head. I started SOBBING. I guess it was my body’s way of letting all the tension out. It worked, but only for a few minutes.
They say a panic attack is your body’s “fight or flight” mechanism. Well, at the moment, I chose FLIGHT! I turned on the car and hauled ass out of the parking lot! I called my boss from the car, crying. I said something like “I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME, BUT I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!!!!! I’M SORRY! OK??” My boss calmly asked “are you ok to drive?” Well that just added another layer of worry to my already over worried self. My response was “OH MY GOD, I DON’T KNOW!!! I HADN’T THOUGHT ABOUT THAT!!!!” We decided I should hang up and concentrate on driving. I drove on the right lane of the highway, at about 15 miles per hour, sobbing the whole way, because now I was afraid to go to work and I was afraid to drive. The next day I would go see my Dr.
Please continue reading my story here: First Visit to the Doctor