Bear with me, folks. Even as I recently boasted about how I keep a positive vibe here at Dad Knows, I’m veering off in the other direction today. Call it a public introspection amid some trying times.
The past few months have seen seismic changes here, changes that warrant a nervous breakdown or two (or…). Well, warranted or not, I’ve had a number of such breakdowns, and I do not recommend them to you.
You loyal friends may recall a couple posts in January that hinted at something amiss in my brain as well as a flat-out admission to it in February. Since then I’ve seen a therapist in weekly sessions, seen a psychiatrist a couple of times, taken a prescribed medication, been given another version of that med as well as a second entirely new one, talked to a priest, and accepted help from intimate family and near strangers.
The odd thing is that despite the circumstances I’m willing to give the therapy and meds and support credit for actually helping ease the effects of depression. That said, there’s only so much any medication or therapy can do when situations arise that shake your foundations. So, every once in a while, I’d subject my family to fits of desperation. Sometimes they were brief and minimal; on a few occasions they lasted days and were overwhelming. Always there was a trigger, a word or a picture or an event that sent me reeling. Mmm, that’s not entirely true. Those things certainly can be triggers, but with me it was a very specific notion, one involving a final goodbye.
The other night, though, was different. I’ve been very tired lately – perhaps an effect of the medications – and so on this night turned in some two to three hours before my usual bedtime. My thoughts as I lay began as they always do, very pleasantly, but quickly took a detour to a dark, dark place. This change from pleasing thoughts to terrifying came so quick, so suddenly, and with such force, I found myself sobbing. Having turned in my Guy Card looong ago, I can freely admit the uncontrolled emotions and the sobbing continued for some 30 minutes, I bet. I’m quite sure I scared at least one of my daughters.
What was different this recent night was that there was no trigger. The anxiety attack came without warning. Seriously, I didn’t see it coming at all. It was intense, frightening, exhausting, relentless… but eventually passed, with the help of family, a glass of wine, and a mindless game. (Cribbage. I don’t even remember if I won.)
So, no trigger. Nothing I can point to that would logically led to such an attack/breakdown. So then what the hell happened? What is it that brought it on? I have no answers, only questions.
Has any of you had such an experience? A completely out of the blue panic attack? (I know I keep calling this thing by a different name. I don’t know what it was, so…) What does one do to get out of the grip of such a breakdown? More importantly, and likely more difficult to answer, is how does one avoid such an attack?
In my mind – part of it, anyway – that train wreck of a train of thought that night was fairly logical and reasonable. If I step back a bit, though, and look at it more objectively (which is not easy, by the way), I can see the illogic and ridiculousness of what my brain was telling me. Still, the whole thing was – and still is – quite unpleasant, and to be frank, downright frightening.
Your perspective and insight will be much appreciated, if you have it. Even if what you can offer is totally nonmedically based, second hand, anecdotal, in a foreign language, or complete hogwash (well…), I’d love to hear it. Of course, if you have first hand experience or a genuine professional opinion, you’re welcome too.
Thanks for putting up with this detour from my normal inane yet happy post style, and thanks for whatever you’re willing and able to offer in response.