Thursday, November 02, 2006

My Therapist Laughed at Me

And she's really not much of a laugher...

I went in today and calmly explained that I was having what I thought were panic attacks: difficulty breathing, dizziness, a racing heatbeat, and weakness. She nodded sympathetically at first, but when I explained that the second one happened right after signing the lease agreement on the house in Northern California, she began to laugh out loud and shake her head in disbelief. "I think you have hit your limit." she said.

It's not that she's opposed ot this decision or thinks it unwise. She just thinks that my body has finally had enough and needs a release. Her suggestion? Ask a friend to come over so that you can finally go through Dalton's stuff.


It's about time. It will be a good release for you. Besides, the longer you wait, the harder it is going to get.

About then, I started to feel my chest go tight.

What do I do about the panic attacks? Should I take a Xanax?

Nope. You just live through them.

She then read me a list of "Panic Attack Symptoms and Associated Thought Process."

1. Rapid Heartbeat, "I am going to have a heart attack."
- reality, your heart can beat at 200bpm for up to 2 weeks. You will not have a heart attack.

2. Difficulty Breathing, "I am going to pass out."
- reality, the stress is causing your lungs to expand and press against your chest. You are getting plenty of oxygen.

3. Dizziness, "I am going to faint."
- reality, the fight or flight response has dilated your blood vessels. You are getting more not less oxygen and will not faint.

4. Weakness, "I am going to collapse."
- reality, the blood is going to you largest muscles (legs), and you will certainly not collapse."

About then, I realized that I really was having panic attacks and began to feel even more pathetic.

As she pressed on about going through Dalton's stuff and how I could "keep one box", I lost it. I don't want one box. I want him. Then the rapid heartbeat, difficult breathing, dizziness, and weakness started to become evident. Her response? "We also should spend some time on your Dad, because this will inevitably raise the abandonment issues that you have as well."

I hate my therapist.

I love her too, because I need to cry. I need to get on with my life. And she gets that I am really good at bottling it up. And not very good at letting it out.

So now, I get to schedule a day with a friend so that I can "go through" (which really means get rid of) Dalton's stuff AND at the same time find something of my Dad's to bring into my next session. And this friend can't be someone who wants to fix it or make it better for me. They have to be comfortable with me being a mess. In fact, they have to encourage it.

Lucky friend.

In the meantime, I get to practice diaphramatic breathing six times a day as a way of minimizing the physical effects of a panic attack.

I swear, all I want to know is what the hell is wrong with Xanax?


Blogger pitt_chick said...

Wow...your therapist is a lot harsher on you than mine is. For the record though, Xanax is really addictive. Both the therapist and my doc are trying to get me to the point that I don't need a sleep aide (which is pretty much what Xanax is for me right now). Apparently, the sleep aides are just as addictive as the Xanax is. You just can't win.

9:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Xanax~~~your therapist needs to meet with an internist. The symptoms you are feeling are real and can have an impact on your physical well being. Xanax can be a band-aid for the stress you are going through but it is a band-aid that helps you through it. The anxiety type symptoms you are expressing can actually throw you into physical distress.... nothing wrong with a xanax now and then if if helps you through the rough spots. It keeps me out of atril fibrillation so I think it is great!

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had panic attacks years ago when my mom died, and as my father was dying. It's a very scary thing to suffer through, but the awareness that they are happening does enough rest. Please take care of and be kind to yourself.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Jodi said...

wow, found you on the randomizer (i'm a drop out). I've now read your blog bak to front and am stunned by your amazing ability to write about all this pain.

Some years ago, I helped a friend go through the things left behind by her late boyfriend and I rememeber that day very clearly. How we laughed at the funny, very personal things we found, the poems, the silly mementoes we all keep stashed for reasons known only to ourselves. we cried over the smell of him still in his clothes (almost 2 years later) and i think we somehow set him (and my friend) free that day.

I wish you strength through your journey. I'll be cheering for you.

9:47 PM  

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