My Going-to-Town Quilt

 

That is my quilt.  i don’t know if i have ever had a quilt before Sarah made me one.  That is it in the picture.  i asked her to make it many colours like Bible Joseph and she did.  There is nothing like laying down for a nap on these chilly days and have my quilt enfold me in it’s comforting embrace.  Or to watch my football, all snuggled up.  i love my quilt.  i wish i had a go-to-town quilt.

I suffer from anxiety attacks.  Just like sadness is not depression, being worried about something is not the same as having an anxiety attack. An anxiety attack is a terrible thing to behold from the inside, but from the outside it may not even be obvious to those around you.  Let’s start at the beginning.

i am at a critical junction in my life and am still not comfortable to share info about it at this point.  This much i can tell you, going into town is a relatively new thing for me.  At least not used to going into town with all these churned up feelings and their attendant effects on me.  I force myself to interact with others, knowing i must have interactions with others, lest i fall into the deep darkness of depression.  i need to learn tons of new things, and for a guy with memory and focus problems, that is a lot of work, trust me.

So i make lists.  I have a list for lighting the stove (even though i know how).  I have a list to check before bed:  to make sure i lock doors and turn off things and set the fire for the night.  And i have a list i check before i go into town.  I have a backpack with stuff in it and the list includes fun things:  keys, wallet, teeth, meds, planner, backpack, phone, Bella inside and dog door closed, appliances off, make sure fire is safe, close and lock house doors.  We have security cameras, but no sense being foolish.

1 did all the right things today.  I had two major attacks here at the house yesterday, so i knew i was vulnerable.  No mistakes this time.  Be prepared.  Check list, got backpack, leave for town on a high note.  And then my brain decided to give me a little help.  It gave me an idea.  A bad idea.  A bad thought about something i thought was well resolved.  The issue does not really matter.

So, tired from the day before, i tried to shut out my brain.  If you have ever laid awake at night and one idea will not let you sleep, you understand something of my persistent thinking.  In the old days i would have called it “stinkin’ thinkin'”.  Just one of those thoughts that moves my brain in a negative direction.  Nor helpful.  Not going into town.

I made two quick stops, determined not to fail in my self-assigned duties, by the time i hit the roundabout (yeah…screw you guys…our town has a traffic circle) i was in full brain overload.  i absolutely had to get to the gas station.  i had new winter wipers to be installed as the old ones were broken almost in half.

i have what we might refer to as “limited” mechanical knowledge.  i know how to open the hood, look at things, shake my head, and look dismayed.  i can fill the gas, change a tire and clean the special air cleaner in my truck and…that is about it.  i think the tiny girl at the gas station changed them while i was in Tim Horton’s.  Laugh it you like…it is difficult to find a wiper that has blown off while you are travelling down a side road.  So the gas station was essential.

I went to Tim’s for a bite to eat, since i had neglected to eat breakfast.  That is a big strike against me.  Put on list to make sure i eat before i leave the house, so my glucose isn’t dancing all over the place.  Read the article in Mental Health about hunger.

They did not charge me.  Nice folks.  Eric the mechanic is probably still laughing his ass off.  He knows of my limitations.  He is my truck doctor.  Anyhow, now i could not find the truck.  Panic attack number one hits.  Didn’t even notice it coming on.

My chest tightens up and i feel like i cannot breathe.  My mind begins to race, as i remind myself that i am not having a heart attack.  i am not dying.  i will be ok, if i just breath again.  i see the truck.  and my breathing returns to normal.  i could have called Sarah, but i have a new phone i am learning (i refused to carry one before) and did not put her number in as a contact.  Strike two against me.

i calm myself in the truck, sure no one has noticed me.  I am sweating and exhausted.  Drop an item off to a friend and we are almost done!  i go into our grocery store to pick up a few items.  I am doing fine until i see someone i know (imagine…in a town of about 5,000, i saw someone i knew).  I dodge down an aisle, pick up my last item, and am heading for the register when it hits.  Panic attack number two decides now is the time.  In the middle of the grocery store.

i can’t move.  i am terrified someone will notice that fact.  i begin to sweat and feel tears coming to my eyes.  Hold it together, dammit!  Breathe.  Breathe.  i know it has just been a couple of minutes, but i feel like it is an eternity.  My breathing relaxes, but my emotions are beginning to run.  I do not do public emotion at all, as a rule.  My private emotional skills are limited, so i’m working on those first.  I do not want to break into tears at the cash register.

I finally get the safety of my truck.  Of  course a train is going through town and it takes me an extra 15 minutes to begin the 20 minute drive home.  I am travelling down the road, frantic to get home,  but the roads are not great, so there is no way i can speed.  Get home.  Get out of the truck.  Phone Sarah.

The sound of Sarah’s voice is soothing to me like no other.  When she tells me to breathe, it is almost as if she is breathing comfort into my spirit.  If you have a person like her in your life, hold them close.  They are more precious than rubies.

Things are better as i sit here reflecting on my expeience.  Sarah and i  talked.  We laughed.  i went for a walk with the dog.  I had a well-earned nap, and now i am having some tea.  Other than a really sore chest and a nagging feeling that i failed somehow, i feel terrific.

So what did i learn from this experience?  i learned i should carry some anti-anxiety meds in the car.  i learned i am still quite raw and vulnerable, so i need to be gentle with myself and feel ok when i don’t get everything done according to plan.   i need to start doing a few breathing exercises, so it is a little more familiar when i am in trouble.   i need to keep a list in my planner of helpful contacts.  The voice of a good friend…sometimes just knowing that person is there if you need them is enough.  Thanks again, my angel.

It’s my going-to-town quilt.  Little bits put together that bring help me feel more safe and protected.  And little steps.  That is enough for now.

Calmer John

4 thoughts on “My Going-to-Town Quilt

  1. I have read a few of your entries, and I always think of your wife as a Godsend. Anxiety/Panic attacks are horrific, as I have experienced them myself. Make sure you put your wife’s number in as a contact or carry a picture of her with you in order to calm your nerves. It might help just a bit.

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  2. I have had panic attacks for about 25yrs they range from confusion from to much input to feeling like I’m having a heart attack…and many of them have no apparent cause.
    After reading an article about copping methods I thought I’d try one…the next time I had an attack…the method I chose was counting numbers out of order…1 5 3 11 26 130 6 etc…
    My next attack….which I could tell was going to be a really bad one…I tried it…within 5min it eased off…by 10min it was gone
    Anyone having one should try it…I hope it works for you as well as it did for me

    Liked by 1 person

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