Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Hopes may rise on the Grasmere, but Honey Pie you're not safe here

I have had my share of panic attacks - my last job was a virtual panic attack generator, the office environment was so poisonous - and when the job ended, my panic attacks decreased alot. A panic attack is a horrible thing, and mine were nothing like the poor woman writing in the April 2 New York Times.

I think it's significant that she mentions that during her wedding she did not have a panic attack, but once she was on her honeymoon they hit. Because panic attacks are fight-or-flight responses with no originating stimuli. Most people would feel safe in a hotel room in Hawaii, with the closest person in their life, but a wedding, well that is a fight-or-flight situation and she decided to fight. Because she knew what she was up against.

 I was like that at work - if I had to make a group presentation I would be nervous, but would not have panic attacks because I was up against something very specific. It was during big, long team meetings that I would suddenly feel the urge to flee - but there was actually nothing much going on - this was a meeting after all, that's pretty much the definition of most corporate meetings: nothing much happens. It's while your mind is on idle that the stresses and strains of working in an unfriendly, even somewhat hostile environment such as the one at my last job, that all the panic symptoms come out - the fear of what could happen - the endless possibilities of disaster, not the present specific probable disaster of a public speaking occasion. It's really hell.

But luckily my attacks have been much briefer and more manageable that the author of the Times article. And my play JULIA & BUDDY deals with panic attacks, and that was therapeutic too.

PANIC by The Smiths