Wednesday Smiles – 1/1/2015
I rarely work on weekends any more. When my business partner and I formed our company fifteen years ago after thirty-something years in big industry, that was one of our goals … no crazy hours. Work on our own schedules. Weekends free. And by the way, no endless meetings. And we’ve been really good at sticking to that goal. But every once in a while, there’s a perfect storm … work and life require sacrificing a weekend. The last two weeks have required full time plus work to meet commitments, prepare for a government government inspection crucial to our business on Monday and my appointment with my tax accountant on Tuesday. There was an auto accident in which I rear ended A CLIENT on the way to lunch and on-going family issues. I even missed the Sunday Elite Eight Basketball Games. Really. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. But by four-thirty Tuesday, my tax appointment was over and I was on my way, home free. Or not. If you’ve been coming around here for a while, you know Older Eyes can be prone to panic attacks during times of stress. In the past few years, regular medication (Prozac) plus an occasional Xanax have headed off these nasty little buggers. But not yesterday.
The thing about panic attacks is that once I reach the point where my brain is flashing THERE’S SOMETHING REALLY WRONG across my consciousness, it’s too late to talk myself out of it. Usually a Xanax settles me enough to avoid that threshold but yesterday, it only got me through my tax appointment. In the past, the SOMETHING REALLY WRONG my brain conjures is a heart attack but this time it was more subtle, a parade of important things to-do or forgotten to-do careening around my brain, slightly out of reach. Scary, which is what feeds a panic attack. By the time I got home, I knew we were headed to the ER. My wife, Muri, has seen enough of these that she knows, we can’t talk me out of them. There is a point in the ER, after ingesting a Xanax and trying to explain to a doctor what’s going on, that my brain says, It was a panic attack. You’re OK. I usually feel a bit silly for the fuss I’ve made at that moment, for dragging Muri away from her walking group and keeping doctors from patients with real problems. But I also know … that’s hindsight. A trip to the doctor is the price of getting past a full-blown panic attack.
In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron discusses a kriya, a Sanskrit word she interprets as spiritual emergency. We all know what a kriya looks like, she says. It is a bad case of the flu right after you’ve broken up with your lover. It’s the rotten head cold and bronchial cough that announces you’ve abused your health to meet an unreachable work deadline. Yes, and a kriya is a panic attack after driving your 70 year old mind too hard. In 12-Step groups, says Cameron, kriyas are often called surrenders. People are told to let go … and just maybe, let God. Kriyas are reminders of what we need to let go of.
So. Smiles. The perfect storm is abating and an unusually intense panic attack is a reminder to slow down. With the help of another Xanax, I relaxed and watched a movie last night, Interstellar, a sci-fi film that proves that even with modern special effects, notions like higher dimensions, black holes and alternate realities work better in the written word than on film. I slept well last night and it’s Wednesday Morning. I’ve taken the day off from my usual service at the 12 Step office and this afternoon, Muri and I will run away to Dana Point, our official enclave near the ocean. I’ll try to keep my mind where my feet are and try not to over-commit going forward. No one likes a panic attack but it can be a reminder. For one, to take the time to smile at all the things I have to smile about.
It’s Wednesday. I’m taking the time to smile.
P.S. – If you are prone to panic attacks, see a doctor. While they are usually not life threatening, they can get worse and threaten piece-of-mind. If someone you know has panic attacks, accept that you can’t talk them out of it. For more, read my 2010 post, (Don’t) Panic.
P.S.S – Yes, I know I’ve traditionally posted April Fools Day posts but this is a real post. If you want to fooled, try my 2010 p0st, Regretfully … Be sure to click the Read More link at the bottom.