Back in college, I had a panic attack just as I parked my car in the lot in front of where I worked. I'd never experienced one before - and didn't realize what was going on until my boss mentioned it - so I forced myself to get up and walk into the building, where I was lead to the break room and allowed to let it pass before opening the store. Other than my body going into shock after catching on fire*, I never experienced another one.
Three had cooked me goat saag**, and I was super excited about it because a) the HusFriend is an excellent chef, b) I haven't had any Indian cuisine in forever, and c) I was so freaking hungry. So I sat down on our couch to nom away, only to find that - since I had rushed him - the meat was a little tough***. I still made a valiant attempt at eating it, though, gnawing away at every savory bite (and believe me, it was excellent).
As I was biting into one chunk, I felt my face pop****. My jawbone had completely disconnected from the joint, and it was not going back into place like it usually did. And this time, it was incredibly painful. Suddenly, my mind started racing.
Our insurance doesn't kick in for nearly two months. What if I can't get it back in? What if I need to go to the ER? This is fucking excruciating. It seriously isn't going back in. What am I gonna do? Good God, this hurts. What if I need surgery now? I just started my job. It sounds like I have cups over my ears. Why? Oh, no, did the bone somehow cause this? Do I even qualify for temporary or short-term disability if I've only been working for one week? Wait, what's that buzzing noise? I can hear everything now. My hands tingle. I'm pretty sure I need to vomit, but that requires me to open my mouth and that isn't happening any time soon. And I have to poop. Badly. What is going on???
Luckily for me, Three used to suffer from extreme panic attacks all the time, so he caught onto the symptoms from the get-go, asking me if I'd somehow put on really light-colored lipstick. I was covered in sweat, shaking, and all of the color had drained from my face. He spoke in soothing tones and even somehow convinced me that getting up and walking around was the best course of action; I refused a couple of times, barely able to maintain breathing below that of a hyperventilating dog, but once I was able to get a hold of that, my body's panic response started to come down. Three drove us to the park, and we took a short, slow-paced hike around the man-made lake at Sesquicentenniel Park.
And once it was over? I felt like I'd just finished a triathlon. My face was throbbing from the swelling, and I could feel a migraine coming on because how else would you complete an experience like having a panic attack? But at least I had some control over how I responded to things.
Once Three and I got home, I poured some epsom salts into the bath and soaked for a good hour, flipping through my new watercolor book and listening to some meditative sitar music in the background.
All of this is to say that, damn, for anyone who suffers from panic attacks or anxiety attacks or what have you, you have my sympathy, and if I come across any of you while you're dealing with one, I will offer nothing more than love and understanding. And epsom salts. Those really are the best.
* You can go read about the ordeal here, if you feel so inclined.
** My favorite Indian meal is lamb saag, but goat meat was cheaper at the Indian market close to our house.
*** I'm being generous here. Three came by and asked how it was, then took a chunk of the meat and was like, "You'd have to be a shark to eat this, Juj."
**** For a bit of background, I have suffered from temporomandibular joint disorder (or TMD/TMJ) since I was in middle school, and as I've gotten older, the symptoms have gotten progressively worse. I'm actually going to be doing a video post here very soon, and I'll go into more detail there. Stay tuned for that!