Kurt Onstad (speedball) wrote,
Kurt Onstad

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Panic history, pt. 1

Since I'm having to deal with my panic attacks more lately, I've felt like I should write a little about them and where they began.

It all started in 1996. I was going to college in the Valley, and my best friend was living in Ventura. So were my parents. I wanted to see my friend, but not deal with my parents. So, I got into the habit of driving out to see him Saturday morning/afternoon, and then driving back to the Valley at 3 and sometimes 4 in the morning. Sometimes when I was driving back that late, my body would start kicking into overdrive for no apparent reason. Heart racing, quick, shallow breaths, sweaty palms. Your basic fear reaction. My assumption is that it was my body's defense mechanism against falling asleep on the road. It definitely did keep me awake. But, it wasn't a sensation I was enjoying. I cut back on my trips out to Ventura somewhat.

Then, in January of 1997, self and I went to go see Jackie Chan's First Strike at a movie theater near me. About halfway through the movie, I started noticing some of the same symptoms I described above. I was used to those sensations when I was driving alone on the freeway late at night, but outside of that context it was a bit odd. I decided to leave the theater for a little bit. Came back in after taking a few deep breaths and calming down. But, it wasn't long before it was back, worse than before. A warm flush flowed over my body, and I just had an overwhelming desire to escape. I didn't even know where to escape to. I went out of the theater again. By this point, my body was twitching, especially my extremities. I decided to call my parents, and let them know what was going on. I explained my symptoms to them, and they agreed that going to the hospital was probably a good idea. So, I pulled self out of the movie theater (I can't remember anymore if I waited until the movie was over or not...), and told him what was going on. Thankfully, there was a hospital just around the corner. They saw me pretty quickly, and hooked me up to various monitors. It didn't take them long to realize that there was nothing physically wrong with me. They gave me a Xanax and explained what was going on. The Xanax calmed me down right away. (I wonder what dosage they gave me, since I've never had Xanax affect me as much as it did that time. Although part of that may be because of what happened later...) self drove me home, and I pretty much slept it off. And that's how they started. It didn't take long to associate and start having attacks in all sorts of situations. And the symptoms just got worse and worse. At one point, I was convinced that all of my skin had gone numb, and I was scratching my arms almost to bleeding, just to convince myself that I could still feel. Every attack, I was sure it was something else other than a panic attack and that I was going to die. Obviously, this started affecting my life in other ways. For a while, I couldn't get through a movie without an attack hitting me. So, I stopped seeing movies. It was very frustrating for me. So, I decided to seek help. That's a tale in and of itself, so I'm moving that to the next journal entry...

Tags: history, panic

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