The Day After

Thursday evening, I set off for my Thursday Night Men’s Meeting at about 7:30.  I hadn’t slept well Wednesday night but managed a short morning nap … cleverly disguised as meditation … in the park and a longer one on the chaise lounge in the yard before dinner.   Still, I felt discombobulated.  Last week, I was busy with work and this week, there’s none.  Those transitions are hard for me.  Until I re-adapt to my retired routine, I feel restless and bored.  Such is the plight of being semi-retired when the semi means on and off, not half time.  Five minutes onto the freeway, I began to feel an old familiar feeling … a panic attack … coming on.   Within another five, I was telling myself, You’re not having a heart attack.  It’s a panic attack.  I popped a Xanax, took the next exit and came home.

The last time I had a panic attack back in May of 2010, I posted (Don’t) Panic, a description of what it’s like to have one.  For those of us prone to them, we know … once the panic sets in, there’s no reasoning with ourselves.  Due to a variety of circumstances (including cardiac assessments resulting from panic attacks), my heart function has been thoroughly evaluated.  I know it’s extremely unlikely that I’m having a heart attack.  But I won’t relax until Xanax kicks in.

I didn’t continue to my meeting because I know that people without experience with panic attacks aren’t very good support.   They mean well.  They pat you on the back and tell you to relax.  They ask, What’s bothering you? or they tell you to Let Go and Let God.  They suggest meditation or talking to your sponsor.  Because they know what’s going on in your life from your sharing, they assume that by talking about what’s going on, the anxiety will be released.  And because many are dealing with various and sundry addictions in friends and family, they do not want to hear that popping a pill is the only answer.  But it is, even with the love of my life by my side.   That said, being with someone that understands helps until the Xanax starts working.   Thursday night, I had a quiet evening at home and retired early.

So, Friday was The Day After.  I felt OK but Thursday’s attack was still fresh in my brain, and my anxiety level was up.  According to, Left untreated, panic attacks and panic disorder can result in severe complications that affect almost every area of your life. You may be so afraid of having more panic attacks that you live in a constant state of fear, ruining your quality of life.  So, I’m lucky … mine seem to be occasional.   But it was a good day to take it easy with Muri and keep my trusty pill container close by, even though it was unlikely I’d use it.  We had a cheapo-cheapo Costco lunch, then spent the afternoon at our favorite beach-park in Dana Point.  And today’s a good day to tell you again: If you or someone you love has panic attacks, see a doctor.  The fear may not be real but the panic attack is … and you can’t talk yourself or them out of it.

Have a good weekend.

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2 Comments on “The Day After”

  1. I know EXACTLY how this feels. I suffer from panic attacks too and they are HORRIBLE.

    And you’re 100% right, the ONLY thing that works is XANAX.

    No amount of breathing and/or comforting words help at that point. I’m glad you had Muri who DOES understand what it’s like for you.

  2. So true that people don’t understand… I don’t even tell people when it’s happening. When they were at their worst, I couldn’t believe no one could tell. My medication for attacks is Klonopin, but as you may remember, I’m also on 10mg of Lexapro daily to help control the anxiety on a biochemical level. It helps a lot… but there is nothing like that feeling that it’s coming and you can’t stop it… like a freight train. Only worse, because realizing an attack is coming often makes it come faster. I’m glad you got through it, had the medication on-hand, and felt better the day after.

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