So, I haven’t been okay for a while. This is likely to be all over the place, so buckle up. Maybe, take some anti-nausea medicine or something.
Just after my birthday, I had a panic attack, after not having a panic attack for years.
The panic attack terrified me.
I was at work and had just finished eating my lunch. No one was in the office. I was mulling over some code I was writing. I figured something out and was pretty excited about my solution when I had pressure in my head that made me feel like my eyeballs were going to pop out of my skull. It felt like I had just submerged under water and it was crushing me. It was sudden and absolute.
I started to call 911 because I was fairly certain I was having a heart attack or a stroke. Except this little voice was whispering “panic attack…panic attack”.
I wanted to call Randy, or one of my friends, but I knew if they heard me babbling, they’d call a life squad. I didn’t want to put them through that fear and I already spent time in the hospital this year from falling down a hole. No way I wanted to take on the expense of another emergency room visit when I was getting more and more sure it was a panic attack.
I paced for a few minutes, then walked down the hall to the network dude’s office and told him I was either in need of immediate medical attention or I was having a massive panic attack. He asked me which I thought it was and I told him panic.
I sat in his office while he played music and told me silly IT stories while I sobbed.
My death wasn’t imminent. My brain just turned on me.
And then it went and did the stupidest thing.
It wouldn’t stop.
My doctor gave me an EKG which read fine. My blood work came back acceptable. But my panic attacks just wouldn’t stop. I was having multiple panic attacks a day and that was new and exciting. I mean, it’s not like I forgot what they were like, but I certainly never had cycling panic attacks. They suck.
There has been a lot lately.
My oldest friend in the world died. My parents and her parents are friends. I’ve known her for her entire life and she died. She had cancer.
A blogging friend, Rena McDaniel, died in her sleep. She was 53. I loved her. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you might have seen her in the comments from time to time.
My older son is going through a divorce. His story is not mine to tell, I’ll just say that it’s been goddamn stressful. I hurt for him and his wife. Oh yeah, and he took a new job within his company and moved.
To Tacoma, WA.
He’s literally as far away from me as he can get and still be in the continental United States.
My doctor referred me to a psychiatrist because cycling panic attacks just weren’t working out for me.
We decided to try Ketamine treatment.
This is where shit gets really weird, you guys.
I was a teen in the seventies, and I smoked the shit out of weed. I’ve been fond of weed my entire life. But that’s as far as I’ve taken it. I have been curious about a psychedelic experience, but always just a bit too afraid to try it.
As I type this, my head is throbbing, both because the weather is wonky which triggers cluster migraines. Also, after taking my third treatment this morning, I have a ketamine hangover .
I want to find a way to describe what this has been like. But I can’t find the words. Which is weird, because I can fucking talk. I mean, I am goddamn good at it. I can talk your legs off.
I hated the first two treatments. I was uncomfortably high. It was bizarre and off-putting.
The after effects were wicked as well.
My anxiety shot through the roof the following day, both times.
But no panic attacks.
Also, my focus is sharper than it has been for…I don’t know…ever? It comes and goes, but I have been experiencing moments of clarity that I didn’t know I could feel.
Both times I was treated, once I got a day in between me and the weirdest fucking experience of my life, I realized that I was feeling a lightness in my head that was foreign to me. I honestly hated the ketamine experience, but I could tell it was helping, so I continued.
Well, today the doctor upped the dose enough that I went from being as high as I’ve ever been to entering a place or a world or a universe that is huge and dark, but not really scary. I didn’t feel real. I would so much love to tell you everything I saw and experienced, but the experience faded.
Other than Bob Dylan. I remember Bob quite clearly.
I learned after the first two go arounds, that covering my eyes helps. I also wore noise cancelling headphones. The doctor started a classic rock playlist and gave me the first of two injections. Rocket Man by Elton John was first which I found hilarious.
Because he was singing about being high as a kite, just as I was climbing up that kite string.
But it was Bob that I found most memorable.
I know it was just the one song. I know I listened to others, but I was traveling through this weird, off kilter landscape that exists only in my brain with Bob Dylan singing “How does it feel?” over and over and over.
Well, Bob, let me tell you. It feels weird.
Sort of wonderful and sort of not. I saw clay walls being constructed before me that went to infinity. I watched structures being constructed and dismantled before my eyes. I was part of all of it. I didn’t feel that I had any form. Or that maybe I had turned into Gumby. So, Bob, again…it feels weird.
I am no longer curious about psychedelic drugs. For me, personally, I would never do this recreationally. I don’t get the appeal. It is way too fucking intense. There is a fair amount of euphoria and a lot of it was pleasant. But way too intense to do this for no good reason.
I do feel hopeful, though. I feel better than I did the other two times. I am hoping that tomorrow isn’t going to be like the other days where I have to take anxiety medicine every 4 hours.
My doctor thinks my panic attacks may have started due to separation anxiety.
Which made no sense to me at all.
I went through Randy getting sick and nearly dying without suffering from panic attacks. We lost our granddaughter, McKinlee, after she battled in the hospital for months before succumbing to her heart issues. I didn’t have any panic attacks then.
I am actually quite excited for my son and his new life. He is over the moon in his new apartment on the bay and kicking ass at his new job. We still talk as much as we always did. I look forward to every picture. Even the one of the towel bar in his new bathroom.
My doctor explained, even if I am happy, that doesn’t mean I’m not experiencing separation anxiety and separation anxiety often brings on panic attacks.
I mean, I guess that could be it.
Either way, I hope I am climbing out of this because it’s been a nightmare.
I have 3 treatments to go, the next one is on Tuesday.
I’m going to work on my own playlist. Not that I wasn’t terribly amused by Mr. Dylan, but I think I need to cultivate my own list.
I am open to suggestions. What song would you want to hear while visiting the dark corners of your brain?