Grandma’s Reindeer

This time next week I am supposed to be on a plane to Reykjavik. First thing I want you to notice is in the last week I have learned how to spell Reykjavik correctly. The second thing I want you to note is in real-time it is the end of August and Iceland just had two reasonably substantial earthquakes ….and they expect a volcanic eruption in the near future.

My husband thinks this is utterly cool. He would like a front seat to an apocalypse. I would like to see an eruption as long as nothing gets hurt. You know, like in a movie: no animals were killed or injured in the making of this extravaganza.

With my luck, I will be in the way when the caribou decide to make a mad dash for it. You know the song about Grandma getting run over by a reindeer? Yep. That would be me.

Besides thinking about living a bad Christmas song, I have been thinking about everything that has to be done before I leave. I have work to finish at two places of employment. I need to go to the pharmacy and the bank. The list of things I want to see in Iceland is only half done. Packing has hardly been given a thought, etc, etc.

It is enough to make a girl crawl into a fetal position in the corner and hyperventilate….which reminded me. I told you I had had panic attacks when this mess first started but we never really talked about the ‘delightful’ things. According to the Mayo Clinic a panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions. They happen in the absence of any obvious danger and often come “out of the blue”. There is no good theory for why some people have panic attacks and others don’t. There are theories about genetics and temperament. Major life changes, stress or trauma can put you at risk for panic attacks.

I never had one until I started to lose my vision. Then I had a time I was having four or five a day. Symptoms included a lot of autonomic nervous system stuff like rapid heart rate and hyperventilating not to mention the feeling of impending doom and fear. Like I said, ‘delightful’.

I treated mine with good drugs. If you are having panic attacks, run, don’t walk to your doctor for anxiety medication. Many of you won’t need to be on the medication for the rest of your lives and, if you do, so what? It is better than waking up screaming three and four times a night like I was.

Other treatments? Psychotherapy is helpful. The emotional regulation component of DBT, including all aspects of physical regulation, is useful. Remember to stay active and try to get enough sleep. The ubiquitous mindfulness meditation is also beneficial.

And speaking of sleep, it is time for me to toddle off to bed. I got a lot done today and have a lot to do. Still, all things in moderation. If I pace myself, I can get it done.

Oh, and the volcanic eruption and the reindeer and all that? No sense worrying about the future. It distracts you from the now. The volcano will erupt if it chooses, but if it doesn’t? My husband will be really disappointed.

written 8/31/2016

 Next: The Waiting Game

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