I've been doing much better, generally. I still have tremendous triggers at work, but I think that my depression is under control. That makes home life just about normal these days, which is amazing. I have been working from home a bit more, to increase productivity that suffers in the office. I had four hearings last week, all of which were successful. All in all, things have been going rather well.
In the meantime, lots of exciting things have happened as well! My little big girl started school last week. Our oldest started her senior year in high school. My husband participated (although didn't race) in a 100 mile race. And we brought home a rescue dog!
With all of this positive stuff, imagine my surprise when I had a crushing panic attack today, away from work and in my normal life. Because it came and went so quickly, I found that I was able to recognize and recount today's panic attack. Usually, I'm so consumed by it that I lose the time that I'm having the attack and sort of "come to" feeling foggy and drained.
I put my little girl on the bus for the very first time this morning. She was totally ready for it and I wasn't quite, but I knew it was right to let her stretch her tiny wings. We waited at the bus stop and got excited when the bus rounded the corner. She climbed in without a second glance backward and I waved frantically at her in the window. And then she was off.
I know many of you are thinking, "Oh, so she's the mom who followed the bus to school. I get it." In fact, I was okay. No tears on the first day of school, no tears on the first day on the bus. If my girl is ready, I can manage. With that said, because there aren't any other 4K kids on her bus, I was a little worried that she might struggle to find her classroom. The drop off locations are different for the big kids and the young kids and she wasn't going to have the benefit of having the special drop. I figured she'd either find her way, someone would help her, or the school would call wondering why she didn't show up. Gulp.
Of course, no one called because she was probably fine. When I arrived to pick her up today, a pickup I normally don't do but insisted on because I knew I wouldn't feel quite comfortable until I saw her smiling face again, the 4K classes were outside. As her class lined up, I scanned the playground for her. As her class started marching toward their backpacks, the first step toward having them in our waiting arms again, I scanned the playground for her. As her class assembled on the blacktop for pickup, I scanned the playground for her again...because she wasn't with her class. She just wasn't there. I scanned the ground for her waiting backpack, but I couldn't find it.
And my heart stopped. Where it should have been beating, I felt a searing hole. Then, because it wasn't beating (or rather, it was likely beating incredibly fast and erratically), I started to take fast, shallow breaths, unable to take in any more air than just enough to keep me conscious. My chest got hot and the heat rose quickly up my neck. I grew faint and my head started to pound. And then, of course because I'm here blogging and not a number of horrible places doing awful things that I'd rather not imagine, I saw her. Almost immediately, the attack ceased and my heart slowed. I took long, deep breaths and by the time her little arms were around my waist, I was me again.
Now imagine that three times a day, five times a day, ten times a day. Imagine it for no reason at all or simply because you vividly remember something that manifests itself terribly in your head. Imagine it in the middle of a dark room at night, driving a car, sitting at your desk or holding your children. It's an awful thing and one that I am gaining control over.
Although most episodes last up to a half an hour for me, today's was rather easily swept aside. The specific fear that triggered the attack was remedied the moment I saw her blue pants, messy hair and coltish gait. I'm thankful. I'd rather not have panic attacks, but to have one that was so quickly conquered (although tamed as much by circumstances as it was managed by my efforts) reminds me that I wasn't always this way. I used to be normal and able to do things that terrify me right now. That gives me hope that I will be able to do it all again. I'm thankful that only my husband has witnessed a true panic attack and that I have been able to raise my children without them knowing my anxiety firsthand. And I'm thankful, of course, that my little person can live her life, enjoy riding the bus, play without a care in the world and come back to the Mama she knows will always support her and stand strong behind her, even during those times when I can hardly stand on my own feet.