Early this morning I woke up in terror. I haven’t had a 3 am terror in months and this one was worse than any I can remember having in a long time. My fear was very specific. I woke terrified of the thought that I might be suddenly paralyzed by a disease or an accident. Maybe it came from a nightmare I had but didn’t remember, I don’t know where else it would have come from. And it felt as rational a fear to have as if it had already happened to me.
Once the initial panic was gone I laid in bed trying all the techniques I’ve used in the past when I wake in fear. Telling myself it isn’t real, meditating on my center and picturing alligator, a symbol or strength for me. I even tried talking to the “little girl” inside of me, the frightened one. But when I did, I couldn’t offer her any comfort, I couldn’t separate her from me. Talking to Jon always helps, but he was sleeping so soundly, which he rarely does, I didn’t want to wake him. Eventually I got up and went into the living room to read. Soon after that Jon woke up and we talked till I was able to fall back to sleep.
In the morning, the fear was gone, but I was feeling vulnerable and sensitive, bruised from what was obviously a panic attack. I’m still not sure what brought it on, but it felt old, a deep and buried pain surfacing in my subconscious. During the day I did what I could to try and understand it all. I talked to Jon and a good friend, meditated and worked on my quilt. By the end of the day, I had some ideas what could have been the trigger for the panic attack, but it was still unclear and I had the urge to give into the exhaustion I was feeling and go to bed after dinner. And I think it would have been fine if I did that, but instead I chose to go back to my studio and do some more work. Because work almost always makes me feel better. And my warm, brightly lit studio felt like a safe and inviting place for me just then.
So I still have no answers, but I did what I could to get myself to a better place today and I know tomorrow I’ll wake up feeling even better, maybe all better. My anxiety and the panic attacks are a part of who I am. They come less frequently than at any other time in my life and when they do I’m pretty good at dealing with them. And I know, like nightmares, they brings gifts of awareness if I can see through the fear. I also know it’s a continuing process and I’m living it.