I Could Outrun A Tiger: Panic And Anxiety

Sometimes, my brain is a real asshole and seems to hate me. I’ve had anxious episodes a few times in my life. I suffer from low-grade depression, not always, but often. I’ve had a few panic attacks throughout my life. Lately, it’s been bad.

About four months ago I went out for drinks with colleagues and ended up in the emergency room around two a.m. after I demanded Francesco to take me because I believed, completely, that I was dying. It felt like I was. My heart was beating out of my chest, my legs were shaking, I couldn’t take a full breath of air, and I felt a kind of fear that is hard to even imagine.

Panic attack, the doctor said. They handed me an orange pill, tucked me into some warm blankets, and monitored me until the Xanax kicked in and I fell asleep in the hospital bed. The next day, it was as if nothing happened. I was fine. I’ve been fine.

Speed forward to this week. For no rational reason, I’ve been having a lot of anxiety. It seems like I’ve been overthinking everything and it’s been leading to some shit feelings, terrifying thoughts, and bad nights. I lay in bed at night, my mind racing, thinking, “oh my God, Francesco is going to die. So am I. So is everyone.” And I’m terrified for eight hours in the dark. This last Tuesday night, F was in class and my anxiety crept up again. I watched Bad Moms, snacked a little, tried to stay preoccupied. But around ten p.m., I was struck by the same indescribable fear as four months ago. My entire body started to shake, and I felt, once again, like I was going to die. Somehow, though, I fell asleep eventually but the next morning I woke up with the same panic. Let me tell you, it’s a shit way to start your day. Good morning, terror.

I was able to get into the doctor at eleven a.m. and was given a prescription for Ativan. I hate pills. I am scared of them and I don’t trust them. Still, it I didn’t have a choice if I wanted the horrible, terrible, scary, awful, feeling to go away. I practically sprinted to the Pharmacy and popped it right then and there. Twenty minutes later,  I felt slightly better but not great. I still felt shaky, my muscles were still tense and trembly, and despite my burning stomach, I couldn’t eat. Even crackers made me gag, which made my anxiety ten times worse. Eating is the most basic human thing. And I couldn’t do it. I was convinced I’d die if I didn’t eat. Which made it so I couldn’t eat. Let’s just say it was a terrible fucking cycle.

Unlike last time, it took me two full days to stop feeling panicked and anxious. And six days later, I’m still not at 100%. I stopped taking the Ativan after the second day and I feel better but I’m still slightly weary and uneasy. I’m still not able to sleep through the night. I’m still worried that it will happen again. Luckily, I have an amazing husband who all but dropped everything to reassure me, cuddle me, and stay with me until this feeling passes.

Fun fact about anxiety: All of its horrible symptoms, are actually your bodies way of preparing for combat and or running away developed from some time where we needed to fight crocodiles or club your dinner to death. You guys, I could outrun a fucking Tiger right now. Seriously, bring it. outrunning-tigers-image

I’ve also done a lot of introspection and realized that ever since I moved home from Italy, I’ve been stressed out, irritable, distracted, just below the surface. I don’t know why exactly but it’s been there and I’ve ignored it. I’m not a highstrung person, in fact, my parents make fun of me for being “too relaxed,” all the time. Apparently, all of the stress has boiled to the surface and is like, “PAY ATTENTION TO ME YOU TWAT!”

I am. I’m paying attention. I made an appointment with a therapist and I’m going to go to Yoga. And, I’m going to stop thinking about things that don’t matter. You really don’t realize how great your life is until you’re cowering in fear for no fucking reason praying for the horrific scary feeling to pass.

It’s been a shitty reminder to take care of myself. I’ll be doing this for a minute instead of worrying about getting pregnant and starting a family. Apparently, I need some self-love for a minute. It’s so easy to get caught up in life and forget to take care of yourself. Your body and brain will only take so much abuse before it bitch-slaps you from here to China.

Also, have any of you had panic attacks, anxiety? Have you experienced it with children? How do you manage? What has helped you?


9 thoughts on “I Could Outrun A Tiger: Panic And Anxiety

  1. Oh, Misty – I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. It sounds terrifying, but I’m glad you’re seeking assistance in dealing with it.

    I’ve never had a panic attack, but I’ve experienced situational depression. I saw a therapist and talked to death, until there was nothing left to talk about and I was fine. It took about six months.

    Interesting that you’ve realized that coming home to the US may have been the trigger. We, as Americans, DO seem to live the most stressed-out lives on earth. Do you feel it would be better for you to return to Italy? I’m glad you’ve decided to hold off on starting a family…that could add a whole other layer of stress, panic and fear, I’m sure.

    Do the Yoga, talk to your therapist and be good to/pamper yourself…especially as the holidays come along with their own brand of crazy.

    You got this. Hugs…

    1. Thanks Wynne, it’s been a wild ride. Yes, the same thing with me. I’ve had anxiety like this once before and I went to a therapist for about three months and I was totally fine for a decade. I think it’s been too much transitioning, Italy, Arizona, Utah, multiple job changes, and I DO tend to put way more pressure on myself in the US. Partially because I feel like there’s more opportunity here so I’m like I WANT TO DO EVERYTHING but also because it’s kind of expected, you know? We are a really stressful society. No doubt about that. As far as moving back to Italy goes, yeah, it might help. We are still planning on it (Milan this time most likely) in a few years. I don’t know. So much crazy right now!

  2. First of all, glad to hear you are better after the panic attack. I’m an American, once married to an Italian (also a Tuscan) for almost a decade. Sadly we divorced recently and mental illness was a factor. My heart still aches today with regret that we couldn’t make it work.
    Anixety, depression, and other forms of mental illness can be debilitating and can wreck havoc on us and our loved ones personally and physically. The main thing to remember is you don’t have to suffer in silence. I applaud you for putting your experience out there. Find the help and the support you need and you will get through this.
    Important: Dont let cultural attitudes (both American and Italian) get in the way of ensuring your (and your husbands) mental well being and happiness. I’m Talking from experience…trust me.
    Best of luck carissima!

  3. Sending you lots of love and thank you for sharing. I’ve never experiences panic attacks, but they sound terrible. I’m sending this to my sister who I think can totally relate to this, and probably get some comfort from it, too. Be strong!! xoxo

  4. HI Misty,
    I hear you. I totally do get them and they make you wish that someone would come along and just pop a bag over your head and suffocate you already, because it feels like a long drawn out sick game that your brain is playing with you.
    Wishing you all the best.
    I just keep telling myself that they can’t last forever.
    It never works.
    Hope that helped.
    Sure it didn’t.
    Keep on keeping on

  5. Hello Misty, Anxiety is basically a manifestation of fear. Fear is “False Experiences Appearing Real”. The things we fear, 90% of the time, don’t happen. Meditation is a great way to get rid of stress and anxiety. The way I do it is put on go to a quiet place, put on Pandora with meditation music, close my eyes, take a breathe in from the nose, and then breathe out slowly out of the mouth. Focus on the breathe and the peace and the stillness around you. Thaoughts and prayers to you.

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