I’m about to get personal here and share something like I never have before. And I’m a little scared. But I write this not for sympathy or pity. I write this because I need to and want to let others who may be feeling this way, it’s ok.
It’s August, 2014. And I can not figure out where the time went. In just a few more months we will be ringing in the new year, and that just blows my mind. For me, August arrives with some heavy anxiety, though.
As I write this, my hands are shaking, my chest feels like it is caving in, my breathing gets short, and the panic starts to slowly creep up on me. I have to talk myself out of it pretty quickly, or it will literally knock me on my ass…literally.
I had my first panic attack on September 5, 2010. The night prior, September 4th, my family and I arrived at my parent’s house. It was a long day of travel, we were tired (more like beyond exhausted), and the house was full of people. I just wanted everyone to go away so we could have some alone time.
On the 5th, my mother and I went to the mall. We had a few things we needed to buy for the week ahead, and I needed to get out of the house. Quite honestly, I didn’t really know what I wanted, but I knew I would need a pair of flats because of all the standing we were about to encounter in the next few days.
We stopped at the shoe department first. My mom was going one direction to look for a pair of shoes for herself, and I would go the other way. And it was right there that it hit me. It was like someone took a steel beam and swung it into my chest so hard, it knocked me down into the seat. I couldn’t breathe! I had no idea what was happening. When I glanced over at my mom, she was busy shopping. I certainly didn’t want her to know something was clearly wrong with me. So I took some deep breaths, got out of the chair, and carried on like nothing happened. But in the back of my head I was so scared. What the hell just happened? A panic attack is what just happened.
This happened quite a bit after that day. Sometimes daily. Sometimes so badly that I would have to sit down, no matter where I was, just to be able to get myself together so I could move on. One time it happened in the grocery store I had to squat down in the middle of the aisle because it was so debilitating, I couldn’t walk.
After some time, it tapered off. I would only have the attacks once a month, and even now they are less frequent and more manageable. I am able to recognize when it is happening, and take immediate action.
As we have entered August, though, the panic attacks are becoming more frequent, and seem a little stronger. You see, for me, August is a memory. This August 26th, my father would have been 75 years old. My father and I always shared the special bond that we had birthdays which landed on the 26th; his in August, mine in May. Five years ago on August 26th, we nearly lost my father to a faulty pacemaker, on the day I was supposed to travel back home to Phoenix. That was a horrible feeling and just a horrible day, having to leave not knowing if it was going to be the last time I’d ever see him again. And in 2010, a week after my father’s 71st birthday, he passed away from heart failure.
August is full of emotions. It also is a month of disbelief at times. As well as all the memories. It is a month that floods my mind and my heart beyond its capacity, I become overloaded.
Sometimes, I find myself just crying. Crying because I miss him, because he suffered, because he isn’t here to see all of his grandchildren, because he loved life and isn’t here to enjoy it anymore. There are times I don’t even know why I am crying, but I just do. I just let it out.
This month will come and go, and I will get through the panic attacks. They are a part of who I am now. So this month will require a lot of work mentally on my part. But I plan on embracing the feelings that are bound to take over this month.
And I plan on celebrating on August 26th with a cosmopolitan in memory of my father. I think he’d think that would be a pretty awesome way to celebrate his life!