My First Panic Attack

The morning sun was shining out from behind an occasional cloud. The air was cool – it was a typical Wisconsin Springtime day. The indirect sunlight meant I wore sunglasses, but the sun wasn’t glaring, just a little hazy.

The men were meeting at the north side Perkins to carpool to the airport, which was closer than all those days I drove him there. He’d been traveling a lot lately, but I was used to it. No big deal.

After he got into their car, I pulled out of the parking lot. I turned right instead of left and headed toward the water. My heart was beating a bit fast, and my stomach felt a little funny. “What if something happens?” I drove in a circle and back around into the parking lot. Now my hands were shaking, so I clutched the steering wheel a little more tightly. “What if something happens to the plane?” “Nothing will happen!” “But what will you do if something does?  What will you do? Who will you call first? What if..? What about..?”

The thoughts came suddenly, not even distinctly. They were more like a flash across my brain – in and out, here and gone. But they were enough to start the panic process.

I suddenly needed to walk, somewhere, anywhere, and fast. Walk fast. I pulled back out of the parking lot, and my hands shook harder. I drove down to Riverside Park and looked for a parking spot at the end of the walkway. Now my chest felt like it was shaking, like my whole body was going to convulse from the center.

I got out of the car, dropped the keys in my pocket, and grabbed my phone. The sun came out from behind the clouds, and I could feel it heating my skin. It shone down on my face, and reflected off the water and back up into my eyes. I squinted, even with my sunglasses on. The water was beautiful with the sparkle of the sun shining, with pinpricks of very bright light as it hit the river’s ripples. I hardly noticed.

My head was pounding, my hands were shaking, my heart was thumping hard and my breathing was getting shallow, as if there was a weight on my chest. I tried to dial my therapist’s office, but my fingers were too fat for the correct numbers. I tried again, and got his voice mail. I was desperate to hear his voice, to talk to him and have him talk me down off the ledge I was clinging to. His voice mail message helped – I could at least hear him. I stumbled over words. “I’m not sure what’s wrong. Please call me. I can’t think. I can’t breathe.” I hung up, dialed again, and hung up again.

Now my hands were shaking almost too much to hold the phone, my eyes were filling with tears, and I couldn’t catch my breath. My thoughts were coming too quickly to stop them, all negative. All ridiculous. Of course nothing was going to happen. No reason to plan for it. Stop that. Actually, it was more like, “Nothing…plan for it..stop.” all in one thought. No individual words or coherent ideas.

I remember praying, but the prayers were like my thoughts – arrows shot towards heaven with no clear-cut thought other than “Father God, please help me!” Later, I remembered how the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to pray (Romans 8:26), and I was thankful for that.

There were other people in the park and walking on the path. I couldn’t really hear them, though, and hardly saw them. It’s as if they were muffled and fuzzy, and their words were unintelligible over the sound of my heartbeat in my ears.

And then all of a sudden, it was gone. The panic, the racing heart, the sweating – stopped. I was better. Exhausted, but better.

I went back to my car and sat in the driver’s seat, trying to figure out what had just happened.  How had I lost the abililty to reason? Why did my body and thoughts go spiraling? I had been trying to breathe, to focus, but there was no way – I was out of control.

I sat in the car, trying to sort out my first panic attack, but not realizing that’s what it was. The sun continued to warm the dark seats, and I got hot from sitting there, so I drove to work, a little shaky yet. I was very tired and my legs were heavy, like I had just run a great distance. I slowly entered the elevator – there was no way I could walk the stairs to my office. Once I sat at the desk, I typed “Panic Attack” in the Google Search Bar, and read all about what had just happened. Sure enough.


7 thoughts on “My First Panic Attack

  1. dawnlizjones May 27, 2016 / 4:42 pm

    One of my daughters had some trouble while living and working in NYC–evidently, they have a term there called NCY syndrome, or something like that. Interesting that you intuitively knew that you needed to walk fast. I’m wondering if vigorous exercise can help prevent and/or treat them?


  2. Jennifer Deg May 4, 2016 / 11:22 am

    It is a very scary thing. I am blessed that I no longer struggle with those. They stem from a deep rooted spirit of fear. I encourage you to look into deliverance or even look into the mirror and say, “I command any spirit of fear to GO right now in the name of Jesus Christ.” Often times the strongman needs to be bound first though. If you feel one coming on again take authority over it and command it to go in Jesus’ name. There is power in the name of Jesus. Lifting you up and praying for breakthrough from that which has you bound. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • peggyricewi May 4, 2016 / 12:48 pm

      I am grateful to say that I only had a few of them, do not suffer from them, haven’t had one for several years.
      And prayer is definitely what got me through them when I had them!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Peggy April 29, 2016 / 11:12 pm

    …..and you will never know how many hearts are being touched and how many lives are changed because of your willingness to share… Always my love…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Michelle Malone April 29, 2016 / 8:28 pm

    Scary, isn’t it? I remember having one a few years ago while driving. When I finally made it to work, I could barely lift my legs to get up one flight of stairs. How do you get through them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • peggyricewi April 30, 2016 / 9:39 am

      I am grateful that I only had a few attacks. I don’t know how someone with panic disorder does it! I kept reminding myself that it would end, and tried to focus only on slowing down my breathing. I practiced in my therapist’s office.

      Liked by 1 person

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