I’ve had the kind of panic attacks where people think I am having a heart attack and call 911. What a load of fun that is! The screaming ambulance ride, being hooked up to IVs and monitors, the blood tests, the EKG, the poking and prodding. And all the while, I’m trying to be brave and gracious about the fact that I am probably dying.
Then, after three or four very tense hours, the ER doc strides into the cubicle one last time with a put-out look on her face and informs me that there isn’t a darn thing wrong with me… while the nurse standing at the foot of the bed actually rolls her eyes.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. The people who called the ambulance in the first place want to know how I am and what was wrong with me. And the insurance company informs me they won’t cover the ambulance bill or most of the emergency room expense because it was “all in your head.” Then my husband’s and my credit goes into the toilet while we strain our budget every month trying to pay the whole fiasco off, already. And every time another bill comes in the mail I can feel my face turn beet red with embarrassment.
It would be so much cheaper and far more therapeutic to go on a cruise.
I wrote most of this in a comment recently on a blog called Lucky Otter’s Haven. My comment was in response to one of the other commenters saying that the fear of having a panic attack sometimes keeps her from going places and doing the things she enjoys.
After I left my comment, I started thinking about how long it has been since I had an off the scale, heart-attack-mimicking panic attack. That’s when I realized… my last big panic attack was more than four years ago! Wow! I used to have panic attacks at least once a month. When I first started having them at the age of seventeen, I often had several major attacks per week — sometimes several in a single day!
What caused my panic attacks? PTSD, stemming from multiple incidents of trauma and abuse. I endured most of my traumas without crying, without screaming, and without panicking in any way — usually because it wasn’t safe to panic and cry out.
When the worst of my traumas happened, I froze like a deer caught in headlights, my terror wedged in my throat. After my stifled emotions began to thaw out, that’s when my panic attacks started happening — even though my worst traumatic events were, by then, in the distant past.
I think it’s amazing that I haven’t had a major panic attack in over four years! I believe this is the longest I have ever gone without an attack, since my panics started more than forty years ago.
HERE’S THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: what caused my panic attacks to stop? I believe my panics have stopped for several reasons. To find out what those reasons are, read my page: How to Heal PTSD.
I am still not completely healed from all of my PTSD symptoms. But I have come so far from where I used to be, even compared to just a couple of years ago, that you probably wouldn’t know I am the same person.
My hope is for every PTSD sufferer who reads this blog to have a similar healing experience. Thank you for stopping by and God bless.