After a Panic Attack, Life Goes On!

Wow! It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Between running around like a mad hatter gathering school supplies and shopping for the kids’ school clothes, that little visit from Hurricane Irene that left us without power for the better part of a week, and stressing over any-and-everything else that was coming up, I had little opportunity to hop on and update this lovely little blog of mine.

This school year my kids are back at a regular brick and mortar public school. Previously, they were cyber-schooling. Two days down and so far so good, though I’m still rather irked by the entire school district, its operations, and this standardized test prep garbage. My middle-schooler has THREE periods of her school day dedicated to various test prep skills! I think it’s insane. I think it’s a waste of time. I think regular public education is in a sad, sad state.

I am also back-to-school! I’ve been dragging my feet on finishing a degree for the better part of two decades. Hilarious, I realize. It’s never been a matter of not being able to actually do the coursework, it’s basically always been an anxiety-related hurdle. Trying to complete a degree without having to go on campus for anything just isn’t the easiest thing to do. The increasing availability of online course offerings is helping a bit, but there are quite a few courses I need that are only offered on-campus. So, I took a big step this semester and registered for an on-campus course that I’d been avoiding for quite some time and that was required. Even worse, the course is interpersonal communication and heavily reliant upon group activities and some oral presentation. Fun times.

The first night of class was rough. I took half a (doctor-prescribed) Xanax about a half hour before figuring it would take the edge off like it usually does and I’d be fine. I was wrong. I should have taken a whole one. I ended up in tears (though thankfully they were the relatively quiet kind and not the uncontrollable, snot-producing, heavy, snorting, hyper-ventilating sobbing kind!) and for my turn at identifying to the class what I felt were my strengths and weaknesses regarding communication, I desperately blurted out in a shaky, strained, tear-affected voice, that I had social anxiety (I mean I was crying, I looked like an idiot, I had to offer an explanation!).

Despite the embarrassment of the situation, I feel sort of empowered by it. I was afraid of having any sort of panic attack or drawing any other sort of negative attention to myself, and the very first day everything I was afraid of happened. I didn’t run out of the classroom like I had in the past, I just rode it out and sucked it up. Not to mention, despite the inappropriateness of blurted out confession, at least it was one less thing to have to be afraid of someone finding out. It’s out there now. Everyone in the room knows. The instructor knows.

So now I don’t really need to be afraid anyone will find out! And since I already had a panic attack — and lived through it — I can be less afraid of having another one, which means I’m that much more less likely to have another one.

I still took a whole Xanax 20 minutes before the start of class number two the following week. I was feeling anxious about repercussions from my actions the previous week and/or being treated weirdly by the rest of the students in the class more than I was anything else though, I think. No full tears during the second week of class, though a few times I caught myself starting to tear up a bit and had to refocus my attention to what was going on in the room instead of inside my head! But, again, I lived through it.

This course may end up being a nice accompaniment to the independent work I’m trying to do to free myself of this social anxiety monkey. We’ll see. One week at a time! 🙂

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