Monday, September 01, 2008

Speaking Up

On Thursday, the same day I was late for work due to a panic attack, I was feeling introspective and more sensitive than usual. I arrived at the office to find one of the pastors taking a phone message for me. She's about my age, and she kindly asked how I was doing. Everyone at work knows about my situation; I made a decision not to even try to keep it a secret because keeping it a secret makes it even worse. Secrets fester and people wind up confused and inadvertently making up their own explanations for other people's behavior. I wouldn't want anyone to think I was simply a fuckup...or I've pretty much put it all out there in my personal life (family, PTA, church/work), as long as I feel I'm in a loving environment. And when I say I've put it all out there, I don't mean by whining or constantly complaining; I just mean that I've told people, "Look, here's something that happens with me and I'm taking care of it, but I want you to know so that you don't have to speculate, and so I don't have to carry the burden of keeping this a secret."

So far my instincts have been right on. (That's another thing I'm working on: trusting my instincts. I've some to realize that it's when I go against my instincts that I get into trouble.) I've confirmed what I already knew - that a lot of people are dealing with panic attacks, depression, etc., and are glad to have another friend who understands. I'm glad to be meeting people who understand as well. Even people who haven't experienced these things have been very kind to me. I remember last year when I was at school, standing by the fence and chatting with another mom; I suddenly felt panicked and lightheaded. I asked the other mom to stay with me while I put my head between my knees and tried to get a breath. Afterward, she walked me to my car. Later, she told me that her adult daughter had been telling her she'd been having panic attacks and she (the mom) hadn't believed her; she said she now had a better idea of what her daughter might be going through, and she would try to help her.

This tells me it's good to talk about this stuff. That there is some benefit (both ways) to my speaking up about it. And yet it's hard to talk about at times. I'm not going to turn this blog into a single topic discussion, but this is where I am right now and it feels right to address it.