THAT FIRST STRANGE FEELING
I remember the night well. It was in September of 1992 and my wife and I had gone to bed for a good night’s rest after a very enjoyable day at Disneyland. My mind was pretty care free and I drifted off to sleep. We had a friend that had traveled with us to Disney, and two of our three children.
I was on the second bed away from the door with my wife. Suddenly, at about 3:30 AM I bolted awake. Wow, that was a startling awakening. I had a strange feeling of being very enclosed and I wanted to be outside. My mind raced with a wild anticipation of something ready to happen. I got up, walked to the bathroom and noticed the shampoo laying in the middle of the tub.
Truth be told, we had had a 6.5 earthquake just before I had awaken. I found that out in the morning while having breakfast. But I remembered the strange feelings I had when I awoke, and did not think that the feelings were related to the earthquake.
I continued to have feelings like this, only at night, and only as I would awake with a sudden start. They did not occur often, but certainly got my attention when they did.
1996: “The Big One” I was in Las Vegas for a convention, when I awoke at about 5 AM. This time I woke up gently and still had huge feelings of being enclosed. I must get out of here. I jumped from bed and put my clothes on quickly and started for the door. My wife had no idea why I was acting so foolishly, but I was panicking. She rolled over and I assume went back to sleep.
I headed down the long hallway in the hotel where we stayed. The walls seem to close in on me, I was dying…. I knew it. I wanted to die outside. I made the mistake of getting in the elevator. I felt enclosed,with panic gripping my mind and soul. Could I make it just a few more minutes? I was crazy with fear.
Doors opened to the elevator with measured ease. I burst out and headed for the lobby. There was a person there and I said “Good Morning” to them. Their response was welcoming to my ears and I felt so alone. Fear and panicked held me close……my breathing was quick and shallow.
I went out the front door into the early morning sunlight. Tears were now streaming down my cheeks.
Twenty minutes later I had calmed. There were people out here…. alive and embracing the morning air. People were heading to places in the city that never sleeps. And hour went by and I went inside to the coffee shop and bought myself a warm taste of soothing Starbucks. I walked back outside, fairly calm now. What had happened? I felt normal again. What could control my mind like that. A tumor, a virus, whatever it was things were better now almost two hours later.
The next night I slept like a baby, and was perplexed by what had happened the morning before.
Months passed and I was myself again. Home, in Seattle, I felt safe and life went on.
Then, after an enjoying an evening watching a movie I went to bed. Early in the morning hours I awoke. Scared, feeling trapped by my own mind again. I was dying….I was sure of this. I had tears in my eyes and I bolted for the front door. I sat down in the front yard. The feeling of freshly cut grassed felt reassuring. I tried getting deep breathes and found that I could. I looked at the stars. What is so wrong I wondered.
I walked inside again and stood in front of our bathroom mirror. I looked at myself for a few minutes The tears had stopped, but my mind was still crazy. Finally I went back to bed. Fell asleep and woke up just fine
These things went on for another year. Not often, but they were making me constantly hesitant of the dark. I was afraid of going to sleep. Worried about dreams that might set my mind in a crazy place.
Then I decided that I had had enough. I scheduled a doctors appointment. It was early 1998.
Walking in to his office I felt the worst going to happen. I had lost my self confidence, and worse lived in constant fear of these feelings happening again. As I described everything to my doctor, I will never forget his grin and soft smile. He said, “Tom, there is nothing wrong, you are having anxiety attacks, and the fact that you are having them at night has to do with the fact that as some people age, their brain does not have enough serotonin (the secretion that gives us peace of mind) being secreted.”
Now, I new the enemy! Now I could fight back. Now I could help myself. I was told that I might have these attacks the rest of my life. They are not fatal and I need to find ways to talk to myself to help me calm down.
It is now 2013, the years have passed and I still occasionally get uneasy feelings. But I am in control now. Twelve years ago I started taking some prescribed medicine, and now I take one pill (Citalopram 20MG) per day. I feel great and I have my own plan for that time when I do feel that edgy. I still get that claustrophobia feeling in small places. When I do I go and sit either outdoors or by a window. Just a while by myself and I am ready to live again.
I have only had one bad anxiety attack since 2008. That’s pretty good anxiety management I would say. I have come from total ignorance on the subject, to really having a respect for the anxiety and a knowledge base as to how to relieve myself from it’s grip.
Here are some of the things I do when feeling uneasy, or waking with apprehension.
1. I reach for my Bible….I figure there is nothing that the good Lord and I cannot face together!
2. Sometimes if I am away from my medicine I take one Bayer Aspirin.
3. My wife, Bonnie, will rub my back and this tends to calm me.
4. Sometimes if I am with people I have to walk away and sit quietly and just try to relax and gain peace of mind again that everything is really ok.
Each person can creatively learn things that can help them once they are aware of the problem.
• NEVER hesitate to see your physician!
• DO NOT miss taking your medicine if your doctor prescribes it.
• TALK to your friends and see if they too have had a problem with it.
• DON’T try to solve Anxiety and Panic Attacks by yourself, reach out to your doctor.
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