Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Embarrassment Factor

Another issue I struggle with related to anxiety is embarrassment. Should I have an anxiety attack in front of a group of strangers -- say on a subway or airplane -- I will be very self conscious about the how thing. This factors greatly into my anticipatory anxiety syndrome -- I fear not only the anxiety attack but the feeling of becoming the center of attention in a bad way. (Although I've never liked attracting attention to myself, even "good" attention) And then I have to deal with what I feel is post-anxiety embarrassment -- like admitting to people that I had an anxiety attack and didn't go to Aruba. I'm not so much concerned with those closest to me but rather "in between" people -- my neighbors, my co-workers, people on my touch football team. For those who know nothing about my anxiety do I lie and tell them I went on the trip? Or if I see them before my scheduled return what do I say about why I'm home? 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Aruba.. Or not..

I was again unable to get on a plane and go to Aruba. This time, however, I had my anxiety attack, complete with uncontrollable sobbing in our apartment before we had even left. The only upside to having it earlier is that I convinced Pam to go without me. As bad as I felt anxiety-wise I felt even more guilty about the possibility of Pam missing out on a vacation. I think of all the times my mother had wanted to go (or has gone) away and the angst that my Dad went through and his attempts to get her to not go. I don't want to have Pam miss out because of my anxiety.

So with Pam in Aruba and me still off from work next week I"m planning to see my therapist multiple times and work on a plan to aggressively conquer this whole stupid anxiety thing, including, hopefully, figuring out a way to induce anxiety attacks in an otherwise controlled environmental so that I can learn how to work through them on my own but also so that they are no longer this big scarey unknown. The panic attacks are, I think, a lot like the anxiety I had about thunderstorms when I was younger -- I would stress about thunderstorms days in advance if I saw them in the forecast. However, I started to get better about thunderstorms when I learned more about weather patterns and even clouds so that, although I couldn't control them, I felt like they wouldn't "sneak up" on me and also if a storm was coming I had a better sense of what to expect. This is my goal with my anxiety -- to learn more about the panic attacks themselves and learn to know what to expect.

Additionally, I'm hoping to work with the therapist to determine the root cause of the anxiety. As she pointed out, the anxiety is most likely a metaphor for something else. I had hoped to make a break through to an "a ha!" moment while I was in therapy early on (2004 and beyond) but lacking that kind of break through I accepted that the medication was enabling me to do things without anxiety. However, since my anxiety has reoccurred - mostly in response to Dad's health issues -- I have been unable to ride subways alone and, of course, unable to face getting on a plane.

Although I'm disappointed in missing out on two vacations - California and Aruba - and frustrated with my subway issues that effect me daily, I feel good in that my new therapist seems very proactive as far as dealing with all this and I also realize I can't commit myself to doing things I'm not ready to do (like flying places).

Friday, March 18, 2011


My wife and I are flying to Aruba tomorrow. I'm feeling quite anxious about the trip because of my inability to board the plane when we were supposed to fly to California in January. However, I feel like I've taken all the right steps to get it done this time. We'll get to the airport early and I've spoken with the airline about boarding first which I think will help a great deal. I also have Xanax to take in addition to my normal Klonopin and I'll make sure to take the meds further in advance this time around. Also, the flight is early in the morning -- 8am -- which works well in the sense that I'm not a morning person and so being tired should help me sleep too.

I'm also planning to tweet throughout the trip from home to the airport and while we're waiting to board the plane. I think too that there will be wifi on the plane (but I'm not 100% sure) and so in some strange way, feeling "connected" to the world via the internet would make me feel better too.