Bonus chapter: surprise panic attack!

And on a day when I have done so many of my mental health practices – exercise, meditation, cold flipping shower, walk in nature, and an hour of breathing techniques. It still flipping got me.

It was creeping up on me all day, minor trembles, a couple of visits to the loo, and then it hit in earnest just after my love went to work for his night shift. So much wretching I thought this time there would be actual vomit, but no, just the empty hollow lurch of my entire self over the loo, accompanied by the usual rush of hot and then cold, and the lightheaded dizziness of not being able to breathe properly.

I considered writing about it while I was right in it, but it is such a sickening filthy murky place of anguish that there are no words, and also no desire to do anything other than make it go away. I was also shaking too much to write. I did some steady breathing, I did some jogging on the spot to try to calm me down, loosening my shoulders as I learned today, I managed a count of four breathing in, and four out, while I reached up to the medicine pile on top of the fridge for my box of pink pills. They rattled uncontrollably in my hands as I took one. I couldn’t get my breathing under control, it felt like air wasn’t going in, even though it was. I could see I was spiralling into further fear of the symptoms of my anxiety so I picked up my phone for my last resort. I don’t like to bother her, especially late on a Friday night, but my sister has talked me down from this crazy place a few times, and I knew I couldn’t cope with a whole night on my own like this without some serious intervention.

I held the phone for a few panicked seconds, having forgotten which buttons to press to make my sister’s voice appear. Eventually there she was.

Are you OK?


She listened to me stammer through the pile of thoughts that had triggered this particular epidode, a mix of three separate ‘what if’s, which she reminded me to separate out. She got me to acknowledge that each of them were not real, and even if they were, they had a very obvious solution that I was fully capable of providing. I accepted that, but the shaking didn’t stop. She then asked me who’s voice was it that was scared? Predictably, it was a five year old version of myself. A little girl curled up in the dark and cold saying ‘don’t leave me, I can’t cope without you, it’s not safe.’

‘OK then, what would you do, you 40 something year old adult, if you see a 5 year old child crying and scared?’

‘I’d give her a hug.’

‘Exactly, you can do that. If you’re babysitting your neice, and she wakes up with a bad dream, what would you do?’

‘I’d hug her and stroke her hair and sing her songs and get her cuddly toys and tell her everything will be OK’.

‘Cos you’ve got her.’

‘I’ve got her.’

‘I know you can look after a little child, like you’ve looked after my kids, you are strong capable Aunt Mimi, a 40something year adult, and you’ve got this. You just need to look after this little girl.’

‘Well I’ve got my cosy blanket, and my herbal tea, and oh yeah I’ve got a cuddly toy cat, that goes in the microwave, it’s all warm and lavendery.’

‘Good. You microwave the cat now.’

‘And I’m going to tuck this little girl into her cosy nest on the sofa and she’ll be fine.’

‘You know if my kids wake up in the night with nightmares, I cuddle them in the spare room and fall asleep holding them. That’s OK. You can do that.’

‘I will. Thank you.’

All of which emotional turmoil was a mere thirty minutes ago, and now I feel totally fine. Peaceful, safe and well. The things I had been worried about are back in their correct place of ‘things that don’t require panic attacks’ And now I’m wondering several things:

  1. Has my attempt to control my anxiety invited every fear from my whole life to burst headfirst into my life (under the guise of modern day concerns) with far more vengeance than I can cope with?
  2. What exactly does this little five year old voice that keeps manifesting as panic attacks want?
  3. Can I rearrange my alphabetical itinery and move ‘Inner Child’ to tomorrow? It’s a good subject for the weekend as it might take a while.
  4. Will I be brave enough to share my findings in this subject – it might be quite weird?

We’ll see. It’s midnight again.

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