Anxiety and panic can strike us out of nowhere.
This is his story:
As my work day began to wind down on Friday, I got antsy as I looked forward to Saturday’s big duck hunt with my son, Bryan. My excitement level was high as it’s always a great time getting my boy into the woods and watching him learn the ways of the wild. We also have the opportunity to put some tasty treats in the freezer.
I called Bryan into school on Friday and took him to work with me as we were hunting just a few miles from work. I work fifty miles from home and it’s senseless to make the the long drive home just to come right back Saturday. We decided to stay with my in-laws -the best a man could ask for- instead, which is only twenty miles away.
Around 10 PM, after a bit of good conversation and some TV at my in-laws, my father in-law hit the sack. My son and I figured it was probably a good idea too, as our 3:30 am wake up call would be upon us shortly. Bryan was out in no time, but no sooner had my head hit the pillow, my mind started reeling. I have no idea why, but it was going into overdrive at an alarming rate, even as I did my best to fight it.
I thought it was just the excitement of the next day’s events and would wear off soon, but wow, was I wrong.
In a matter of minutes I was up pacing through the house, my mouth dry, my breaths rapid. My mind could not concentrate on any one thing.
I was having a panic attack and my medications were 75 miles away. That’s right, I forgot them at home. I had been doing great lately, and it never really crossed my mind to bring them along just in case.
Well here I was in the midst of a full-blown panic and had no idea what to do. I picked up the phone and called my wife, knowing full well that she would be asleep because it was now approaching 11:30 and she never stays up that late.
She was so wonderful and gave me time to chat and tried to relieve my tensions a bit. I didn’t keep her on the phone long but was so appreciative of her willingness to even allow me to call that late without getting pissed off. Her talk and encouragement was a bit helpful, but I was still contemplating making the hour-plus drive home in the middle of the night just to get my medication.
Then it dawned on me. My friend Luke was probably going out somewhere for the evening since his wife was out of town, so maybe I could get in touch with him.
I called Luke’s cell phone but there was no answer. I left a brief message explaining my dilemma and asked him to call me back. About ten minutes later the phone rang. I figured it was my wife just checking up on me, but it was Luke.
He was almost back in town from a night out and would be more than happy to have me over for awhile, even though it was midnight and he had to work the next day. I was in such panicked state that it took me two tries to get into the car and drive the three miles to his house.
Every time I’d get into the car, I’d think: I will never make it over there and I couldn’t breathe. The world felt like it was going to collapse around me if I sat in that drivers seat too long, so I’d pull back into the in-law’s driveway. I would get out, walk back into the house, then turn right back around and get into the car.
Finally, I made it to Luke’s house, but he wasn’t there. I tried to get out of the car and wait for him but my head wouldn’t leave me alone. My throat was tightening and it seemed like my airway was going to close any minute if I didn’t do something drastic. I knew this was all in my mind at the time and yet I had no control.
That thought alone made it worse. I jumped back in my car to head back to the in-laws. Just as I got to the first stop at the end of Luke’s road, he pulled into the road and waved me back.
I followed him to his house and we sat outside for awhile before I worked up the nerve to go inside without feeling caged in. A few minutes was all I could handle indoors…the heat, the lack of oxygen, the walls…I had to get out.
Luke was more than willing to follow. I’m not much of a drinker, but a 22oz hard lemonade seemed like it might help slow me down a bit. I slammed that while Luke sipped on one himself. Usually one of those is enough to put me on the couch for the evening! But this was no ordinary evening and no ordinary panic attack.
I have only had an attack this severe a couple of times and I hated it. Before I knew it, I had Luke out waking down the dirt drive at 2:00 am, and he did it with no complaints. We wandered back to the house and went inside for a little more chit-chat.
It was now close to 3:00 am and I could see that Luke was fading fast. The good thing was that it would soon be time to wake my son for his duck hunt, and my mind was starting to shift into a lower gear in preparation for the day of hunting. I needed to keep myself in check for the safety of my son.
The fog in my head slowly began to lift as I pulled into my in-laws driveway at 3:10 am. I was actually able to chill long enough to take a shower. When I came out of the shower, I felt as if the world had been lifted from my shoulders. My wonderful son was sleeping peacefully on a futon mattress on Grandma’s floor, oblivious to the hell I’d been through over the past 4 hours. I was tired but rejuvenated with a clear mind.
I took my son on the hunt. It was a wonderful morning. Warm, calm, and the mosquitoes didn’t even bother me. Ducks were flying and my son was doing pretty good hitting them. I had a wonderful day, and I must say that it was due to the patience and understanding of my wonderful wife and my friend Luke.
Luke is the true definition of a friend. I have known Luke for the better part of thirty years and I would do anything for him. He is more like a brother to me than a friend. I would be hard pressed to find another person on this planet that would be willing to sacrifice a night of sleep just to help a guy through a hard time.
Luke is a true friend, and true friends are hard to come by. He helped me through a night of turmoil that could have led to tragedy if I had not had him to talk to and keep my mind off the senseless ramblings. He was there for me and I am eternally grateful.
I am always here for you if you need me, brother!
hank you for writing this. I really needed to hear it – my wife has suddenly started having panic attacks and it’s been impossible for me to really understand because she won’t/can’t talk about them, which was making it very difficult for me to really understand what’s going on.
I’m glad you have such a good friend in Luke and thank you again for sharing.
Anxiety is a very difficult thing to understand if you do not suffer from it. Even my friend Luke, as good of a friend as he is, thinks it is just something that should be able to be brushed aside and controlled by oneself. That is sometimes the case, but many times it must be controlled with medication. I am lucky to only have these severe attacks once or twice a month so I am not becoming dependent on the meds, which the thought of in itself often puts me into an anxiety situation. It is a strange thing but your support will mean the world to her. I know if it were not for my wife and good friends I would be having a much more difficult time dealing with the anxiety.
Best wishes to both of you.
AMazing the tricks our minds can play on us, isn’t it? Luke is awesome and so are you!