I had a very intense panic attack on the day of Hurricane Sandy, and want to share the experience with you- and the outcome.
My heart goes out to all who suffered losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. NYC and the surrounding areas got hit particularly hard, and this is where I live of course.
But back to the panic attack…
I was at work when the Hurricane hit us – in the operating room- a part of the hospital with no windows. The only clue there was a storm raging outside was that the lights flickered off…and then again. Within about 10 seconds the hospital generator had kicked in.
After the operation finished and once I got the patient safely to his room and was finished with my duties, I took a look outside.
It was pretty frightening with the 75 mile an hour wind gusts.
Power lines and trees were down everywhere. People were leaving to go home and immediately coming back into the hospital soaking wet- claiming there was no way anyone was getting home that night.
I started getting hot and feeling very uncomfortable.
Very anxious. I mentally berated myself for not preparing better for this. Many of the nurses and hospital workers came to work that day with overnight bags, anticipating that they would not make it home.
I hadn’t thought of that. I had nothing with me. Meaning no pillow, no clean underwear, no deodorant, no medication…
I got a tremendous hot flash and felt like I was going to faint on the spot. My heart was banging away in my chest and I was gasping for air.
I knew I was having a panic attack, and I grounded myself and did my breathing. Intellectually I knew I was fine. I knew I would be ok.
But my emotions- well that was a different story.
My anxious thinking was out of control. The anxiety monster came out in full force. And the dialogue began.
Anxiety Monster/ Voice of Self Pity: Well well well, look who didn’t prepare for Hurricane Sandy. This is going to be really bad.
Jill: This sucks. I really want to go home.
Anxiety Monster/ Voice of Self Pity: Too bad they don’t have a psychiatric unit here, you’re going to need one. What are you going to do when you start having panic attacks? You didn’t bring any medication!
Voice of Reason: You don’t need any medication.
Jill: But I still take a small dose of Klonopin at night. What am I going to do?
Anxiety Monster/ Voice of Self Pity: I’ll tell you what you’re going to do. You’re going to have seizures! You can’t skip your medicine. And you’re going to go INSANE.
Voice of Reason: You have never had a seizure and you skip your medicine all the time. You are safe. Don’t give in to the racing thoughts. It’s intellect over emotion.
Anxiety Monster/ Voice of Self Pity: But Hurricane Sandy is upon us! You might not get home for days. DAYS….Days without medication! You’re going to have a seizure. And they’re going to lock you up and throw away the key!
Jill: This sucks.
Anxiety Monster/ Voice of Self Pity: You’re damn right it sucks.
Voice of Reason: Go check the hourly weather report and see when the wind and rain will die down.
Jill: Now I’m scared to talk to anyone. What if I start panicking again?
Voice of Reason: Take some action. Go to the nurse’s station and ask to use the computer. It’s not a big deal. It’s ok to be afraid. Everyone is afraid right now.
Goes to check weather on computer. Sees that the wind and rain will die down in a few hours.
Jill: Oh thank God in heaven! (Huge Sigh of relief)
Voice of Reason: Now go lay down and rest. You are strong. You are safe…
I got home safe early that morning. But the thought that I might be trapped in that hospital fully disarmed (meaning without my anxiety medication) in full view of my coworkers for days was maddening. The anxiety monster had me in it’s grips for awhile for sure. But thankfully I did listen to my good Voice of Reason.
After my massive panic attack, I was able to sleep for a few hours, and all was well.
We lost power on the day of the storm and went without it for 6 days afterwards in my home. It was inconvenient being cold and in the dark, but we fared better than many. And I didn’t have any more panic attacks.
How did YOU fare with Hurricane Sandy? Did your anxiety flare up or were you ok?
I wish you peace,