A big part of my panic disorder is ruled by agoraphobia- a fear of places/situations that might cause me to panic and become embarrassed. My worst fear is that I have a panic attack in some place where people notice and think I am crazy. I know in reality people can’t actually tell when I’m having a panic attack (unless you know me- I do have some tics that those close to me recognize), but I am still terrified that I will be somewhere new, start to panic, be trapped in the situation, and panic.
Agoraphobia caused me to miss the end of my junior year of high school. It also causes me to miss out on many things- I have cancelled plans or left things early because of a fear of panicking there. It definitely played a part in my wedding anxiety also.
Most recently, I was on a work trip and spiraled into a pretty major panic attack. I waited too long to take Ativan and got to the point where the medication wouldn’t kick in until I calmed down somewhat (my body does really well at fighting medication in the midst of a panic attack). Instead of pushing through like I’m supposed to (my therapist is big on telling me to stay in the moment and sit with the anxiety/panic), I decided to go back to my hotel room and decompress. Part of the attack was due to low blood sugar and fatigue but the majority was because I was scared I would embarrass myself in front of some people of prominence who didn’t know me.
It is so defeating to have these kinds of moments. I have worked in high-stress environments and thrived (and loved it). I work on short deadlines without breaking a sweat. But being away from home and my normal routine/comfort zone and I turn into a shaky, panicky mess. What’s even more disappointing is that this work trip was one I had been looking forward to for months- to my favorite city with a group of individuals I only get to see a few times a year at most working on something I am incredibly passionate about.
Instead of what could have been a really productive, enjoyable few days, the trip became an anxiety-ridden mess of emotions that left me disappointed in myself. That’s life with anxiety and panic.
Onward to better days.