The Panic Attack

I think in the past I’ve probably said things like “that almost gave me a panic attack!” or “You’re giving me a panic attack” without actually meaning them. It’s just a thing I say. Like when people call someone “crazy” without actually meaning “mentally ill”.

The real problem is that this morning I think I had an actual panic attack. Or something like one.

I was in my mom’s office and we were talking about some things that are stressing me out. I’ll just give you a short list:

1. My student loans. I had them in forbearance last year while we were in treatment and that’s coming to an end in March. We’re HOPING to file our taxes married but separate this year to take my payment from $500 a month to $25 a month, but we don’t know if we’ll be able to. I’m still waiting on a 1098 form for our HELOC before we can do our taxes.

2. My job situation is a little more unsure than I thought it would be after I come back from maternity leave. The Captain isn’t worried about it (which is reassuring-thank you Captain) but the Supreme Boss IS worried about it, which has me worried.

3. Chief hurt his back this weekend. Chief NEVER gets sick. NEVER gets hurt. But he has really been in pain since Saturday afternoon. He’s not one to wallow so I know when he really means something. He asked about whether or not I thought he should go to the hospital. I did some quick googling and it said that back pain isn’t usually indicative of an emergency unless it’s accompanied by incontinence or a hard time breathing. Even so, it really stresses me out to see him in pain because, again, he’s such a trooper. If he’s showing pain I know it must be bad. He’s going to the doctor this afternoon, another sign that it’s bad. Chief doesn’t even HAVE a doctor.

3a. If Chief is really and seriously hurt I don’t know how on earth we’ll get everything done before Charlie comes. I also don’t want him to have to have surgery. My dad had so many back surgeries so I’m almost having a sort of PTSD like reaction to this. It’s probably just a muscle strain, but anytime my dad’s back hurt it was from a herniated disc and he had something like 8 surgeries while I was growing up, and he was miserable. And my mom was miserable. I just want everyone happy and healthy when Charlie comes. And for our house to be ready.

4. We’re STILL waiting for an answer on Chief’s financial aid. We were supposed to hear on Friday and now they’re saying maybe today we’ll know something.

5. I stupidly overextended just a little on bills this paycheck. I’m trying to pay double and triple payments on the two credit cards I have with debt on them so they can be paid down really far (if not paid off) by the time Charlie gets here. Sometimes I forget I’ve scheduled something and then schedule something extra. That happened this paycheck, so my bank account is lower than I feel comfortable with. We have money in savings, but I’m trying to ONLY use that for baby expenses because it went from being the infertility account to the Charlie/Maternity leave account and since we don’t know what’s going to happen with financial aid yet I really feel the need to be stringent with it.

All of these things added up on me this morning all at once, and suddenly I couldn’t breathe and I felt like I was going to vomit. When I say I couldn’t breathe, I mean I was huffing and puffing like I had climbed ten flights of stairs when in reality I was just sitting in a chair. I felt it coming on in my mom’s office and I didn’t want to freak her out, so I went to the business law library where I could have a minute alone. I called Chief and he helped to calm me down at least about his back and that had me breathing normally enough that I was able to calm myself down the rest of the way.

Here’s my point though-that’s not normal right? I’ve NEVER had that happen before. I feel fine now. I’m still worried about all those things, but I don’t feel like I’m about to pass out, vomit, AND cry all at once. I feel like maybe I need to see someone about anxiety? But when I think about that all I can think about is how little time I have to sit in someone’s office and talk about myself for an hour. I have THINGS TO DO. My house is a perpetual state of disaster. My husband doesn’t get home until after 9:00 three nights a week because of his class schedule. I’m still working 47-50 hours a week. There is no. extra. time.

So…any advice? Is this the kind of thing I need to MAKE time for? Could it have been a one time occurrence? Should I wait and see if it happens again and then call? I need honest, but also realistic opinions please. I feel like I’m losing it a little.

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21 thoughts on “The Panic Attack

  1. I had panic attacks in high school. I could always tell when one would start coming on because I couldn’t breathe an my extremities would start to tingle, especially my fingers. During the really bad ones I actually lost the ability to use my arms (they would go completely rigid). It was terrifying (only adding to the panic I already felt). In those really bad situations there was no way of calming myself down. Be careful of being alone if you start to feel like this again. You either need to tell someone where you are and to come check on you or have someone sit with you in case the situation gets worse.

    • Yes-that was part I forgot to mention-the attack itself was so scary that it added to my distress. My mom is such a worrier that I didn’t want to freak her out today, but I will remember your advice about not being alone if I can avoid it.

      • Its crazy how powerful stress is and how It can manifest itself in our bodies. Thankfully I haven’t had a panic attack since I was 18 but I still get physical symptoms of stress such as back pain (always in the same place!). Finding a healthy way to deal with stress is so hard!

      • Before I got pregnant the way I was dealing with stress was fast paced cardio-like Zumba. Now all I can really do is….walk. Which I should be doing more of than I am for sure, just for health reasons. But I don’t think it’s going to be the stress reliever that Zumba was.

  2. One thing at a time! I hope that you get good news about Chief’s back!! Life is nothing if not crazy, right? How is it possible to get your loan payment down so low? My hubs’ student loan payments are STUPID and if we didn’t have them life would be 1000000000x easier.

    • The deal is that with our incomes combined the feds think we make so much money (but of COURSE they don’t care about your mortgage or anything like THAT) so if we file our taxes separately and they just look at MY income (because Chief makes more than me) they’ll think I’m poor-ish, especially after Charlie gets here. the problem is that to file your taxes separately they require you to pay a higher percentage so when we’ve tried it in the past it’s been too expensive to pull off.

      • This is something I need to have him look into!! We file jointly now – because that is the only way we could claim the interest he pays on the loans – but if we could lower the payment it could be worth it to not file that way. Loans & taxes are such a racket. Thank you for the info!!

      • Yeah-that’s the deal. You can still file mortgage interest separately but not student loan interest. Probably because they KNOW that the people who are filing separately are doing it to avoid crazy high student loan payments. Bush era interest rates are KILLING me on my payments.

      • We will have to look into this. Paying a butt load of money every month & I am not sure we are even making any headway on the balance of the actual loan. So stupid. Education-schmeducation!!! 😉

      • Yes-it’s uber uber frustrating. The scary part about the way I’m HOPING to do it is that the balance will continue to rise while I’m making these tiny payments, but on the IBR plan they forgive the debt after a certain number of years so as far as I’m concerned it can double and triple as long as I don’t have to make a giant payment every month. the only problem is that once it’s forgive they make you pay taxes on it like it’s income.

  3. I have generalized anxiety disorder and have a history of panic attacks. My anxiety is currently managed with a medication, although the best med for panic attacks isn’t allowed in pregnancy. 😦 That said . . .what you experienced sounds like an anxiety attack. AND . . .it also sounds like a potentially normal response to a lot of things feeling stressful. Generally, you only need to be very worried if you start having responses like this to things that AREN’T that big a deal. It’s normal to freak out when things are hard, if you can then pull yourself together and start taking steps to figure things out. I knew I was in trouble when I started having panic attacks about what to eat for dinner, or whether or not my dad (who’s been sober for YEARS) might relapse – with no reason to think he would – and when I then couldn’t pull myself out of that spiral. So . . .keep an eye on it, breathe deeply, and do one thing at a time. If it starts becoming a regular occurence, talk to someone! Sending you big love!

    • Thank you-this makes me feel so much better. It was such a scary thing to have just wallop you all at once. I’m trying to deal with the money aspects of it by dealing with some things with the few credit cards I have. For instance, I found out today while investigating that one was charging me an outrageous card security fee for a very low balance. So I cancelled the card security and that card will now be paid off I would estimate about 30% sooner (seriously, it was a crazy fee). I also found out that one of the two other cards I had left has an interest rate that is more than double on the other card. Again, they’re low balances, but now I know that I can transfer the balance of one to the other. This will leave me with only two cards with debt on them and both with very low rates.

      It’s not dealing with anything on the list of PANIC, but it IS something I can actually control right now so it’s making me feel better.

  4. Hun you need to keep breathing. I used to suffer quite badly from panic and anxiety attacks (they manifest differently for me), now I can usually stop them – or maybe I just have better control over myself I don’t know. But it is pretty rare for me to have one.
    My trick – as soon as I start to feel “panic-y” (it’s totally a word LOL) I walk away from what I am doing, go outside (or into a room on my own) and force myself to take some deep breaths. If it is bad I listen to some ocean sounds (recording) because that helps me relax. I visualise each wave washing over me and taking my “panic-y” feelings and doubts with it when it recedes. You probably think it sounds stupid, but it really works for me.
    You need to find what works for you, when I was reading this post towards the end of it I felt like at the beginning of the 3rd last paragraph you started to feel a little worried again which read like you were kinda frantic again by halfway through the 2nd last paragraph.
    Have you ever tried meditation? There are a lot of YouTube videos that have maternity meditation. This might help because it is about thinking about and connecting with your feelings for the being inside you – perhaps make time for it once a day and it might help you a bit to do something away from all the worries that is just for you and Charlie (meanwhile I love this name, it was at the top of my ‘want’ list for girls names, but Hubby wasn’t into it).

    • NO-this is good advice. It doesn’t sound silly at all. One of the first things Chief said was that I needed to take some deep breaths and he sat there on the phone with me while I did. I’ve been recommended meditation before and i should probably bite the bullet and do it. I don’t know why I avoid it so much. so many people say it would help.

      and thank you-Chief insists he’s going to call her Charlotte and not Charlie, but we’ll see when she actually gets here 🙂 Even if he does, I think that’s kind of cute in and of itself.

      • My cousin started off calling his daughter Charlotte… didn’t take long for it to turn into Charlie so you might be onto something there haha.
        No problems. I hadn’t meditated since high school and I realized that I spent a lot of time stressed and even if there wasn’t something stressful happening at that moment I would think about the things that stressed me all the time. Meditation helped me with that. Sometimes it is hard to go, “I am taking 10/20/30 minutes for myself”. But de-stressing is important for your health too 🙂

  5. I’ve had panic attacks before and it was always when I was most stressed and freaking out about life…it sucks for me I get so dizzy from the not breathing that it freaks me out even worse… I do what you did I call my husband tell him I’m freaking out he calms me down but like the other person said just keep an eye on it I talked to my dr. and all though he was willing to write a prescription I told him I’d rather try meditation and he agreed that if I start getting the anxiety attacks for non serious reason that I might want to switch to an actual prescription but meditation would probably be all I needed… Mine happened while I was driving freaked me out bad enough that the only time I get anxiety now is when I have to drive… talk about fun but as long as I have my ear piece so I can call the hubby and I think calming happy thoughts I do much better with everything and haven’t had an attack in 2 years or so… I just have to remind myself to freak out about one thing at a time…

  6. For a short time when I had returned to college after an illness, I had panic attacks. They’re nothing to joke about. The first time I had one, I was in a store and I didn’t know what was going on because I just started sweating and it was difficult to breathe and it seemed like the world was closing in on me. With the help of some medication and relaxation techniques, I was able to get over them eventually. My counselor at the time said it was not abnormal for someone going through so many life changes. All of this is just to say, you’re not alone and it WILL be okay. ❤

    My suggestion would be to question your thinking. If something is bothering you, ask yourself: What can I do about this situation right now? If there is something you can do (that is realistic), go for it. If not, you need to move on – which I realize is MUCH easier said than done. With all that you are going through right now, you need to be super kind to yourself and give yourself a break!

    Many hugs to you! You can and will make it through all of this. One step at a time, my friend!

  7. I’ve had low grade anxiety for as long as I could remember (thanks to a mother who was in denial about her full-blown anxiety). It got worse and worse over time, until I couldn’t even sleep without a light on, and I started having minor panic attacks. I finally made time to see a counselor, and I eventually ended up on medication after trying to fix it myself. It was really hard to make time to do it, but it was SO worth it. I can’t imagine trying to deal with that and take care of a baby at the same time.

    As far as student loans – I think it’s the biggest scam ever. I wish I had never gone to graduate school, so I totally feel you there.

    • I think we’re going to be able to file our taxes soon which will help with my student loan. If we could hear from Chiefs university that would (hopefully) solve that problem. It’s just all the waiting! Hope you get yours worked out soon as well.

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