countdown to the semester’s end (+ panic attack update)

Hello, peeps! Just a quick note to say I’m pretty sure I’m going to survive this semester after all.

One more week of classes. One week of intense grading after that, and I hope most fervently to get it all done in time to celebrate Christmas in a fully laid-back fashion.

Hey, and I never followed up here about those panic attacks. They started during the last week of August; I tried talk therapy (HUGE FAIL bad bad counselor), massage therapy (felt nice but not helpful), Vistaril (made a significant difference for a couple weeks and then … just gradually stopped …. though I kept taking it most nights for two or three more weeks), calcium/magnesium and B vitamins (who knows if this made any difference?), mindfulness techniques like physically turning my head and looking around to ground myself, and distraction techniques like counting backwards from 300 by 2s. I considered quitting one of my jobs–I actually drafted an email to the dean–but hung in there because of the money and the need not to burn bridges.

Sometime maybe around mid-October I started feeling better, having more good days than bad days, not actually vomiting in the mornings. I still have little episodes of heart-racing and sometimes can’t get back to sleep on the mornings of my more stressful work days, but I’m fully-functioning and a-okay now.

The shift from utterly miserable and really truly sick to fine was quite gradual and happened over the course of a few weeks. Being better now, and the surreal nature of the experience, and the gradual shift all make it kind of hard to remember how bad it was for all those earlier weeks. But it was bad. There were a couple times when I couldn’t prepare breakfast or lunch for my children. There were lots of mornings when my body felt just flat-out terrified and my mind couldn’t do much. This experience of illness took over my life and our family’s life for a while.

In the meantime, I had lost a lot of weight. I had lots of trouble eating even when I wasn’t in panic mode, when I felt happy and fine, presumably because of the insomnia and starting off days in such a rough way. Fortunately, I have a wildly abundant milk supply, so my enthusiastic nursling was not affected by the dehydrating drugs (Vistaril is an antihistamine) or my abrupt drop in body fat. And now I can eat again like normal, yay!

So, this semester was really awesome and fun. Ha ha ha. I am, however, really looking forward to regrouping and enjoying some time off paid work really soon. I can’t wait to get back to my book project, regular blogging, doing school with Noah, and having a bit more downtime with Eric. And then maybe next fall I can teach in a more manageable way (with a workable childcare situation from the beginning of the semester and a decent schedule, and not with a baby who’s going through various sleep issues). Fingers crossed :)

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2 Comments

  1. Posted 12 December 2013 at 4:55 PM | Permalink

    That you’re feeling better is great news, but I totally empathize with the frustration of not being sure what triggered the anxiety….or what helped it! Don’t you wish you could point to THAT ONE THING that started it all, and THAT OTHER THING that fixed it? I do!

    • Molly
      Posted 13 December 2013 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

      Yeah … especially the “fixed it” part! That would be a nice little piece of data to grasp!

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