Blueberry Cake Donuts and Controlled Substances

Well, well.

I feel fan-freaking-tastic. As noted, the second week of not smoking was not going well. Didn’t cheat at all, and frankly, I didn’t even consider it. However – Very real anxiety, and actually, a serious panic attack while playing one day. (I know that sounds terribly sad, but if you conjure up a mental image of someone freaking out while seated at the console of a 3,000 pipe organ, I’m positive you’ll giggle.)

Are you giggling? Good. You’ll need your sense of humor. Because I found the panic attack fascinating and I wanted to tell you about it. I’m sitting there playing a (rather simple) hymn, and then, bam! Like someone pulled the rug out under from me. My heart starts pounding, I’m flushed, dizzy, I suddenly wonder how my fingers are going to get where they’re supposed to go. (And in fact, some of my fingers don’t get where they’re supposed to go.) I loose a few seconds, and then I’m back. Now, I’m panicking, and trying to find a way out of the musical mess I’ve gotten myself into. (God bless relative chords.) Of course, I’m terrified. I finish the tune, and spend the rest of the hour trying to make it through the other pieces without hyperventilating.

Clearly, something is not quite right. I do some thinking. I realize that at one point last week I did not leave the house for 48 hours. I move up my doc visit. We chat. We figure. He does his Doc thing. The theory is that I had been self-medicating, via smokes. Although I always operated at a low boil and always had smaller panic issues, the smokes kept the pot from completely boiling over. When I took them away … blammo.

So. I now have a daily med, and I have a bottle of panic pills, in case I need them for a specific moment. Reactions have been amusing. When I’ve mentioned the daily meds, one friend said, “Every musician and actor I know takes that stuff.” On the flip side, when I mentioned the name of the panic pills, another friend said, “Jeez! That’s serious medication!” What has been most interesting is this – Once I mentioned all this to friends, I realized that lots of people have problems. Being as most of my friends are actors and musicians, it goes with the territory. Performers. Standing on a stage, Elaine Stritch once put it so simply. “It’s scary up here.”

I’m not much of a pill person. Never was. I figured, sitting in front of an orchestra waiting to signal the downbeat, if I was panicking, that’s just how it was. Suck it up. When I frequently got so worked up that I became physically ill, that’s just how it was. Part of the deal. When my blood pressure went way through the roof because I was displeased with this-or-that? High strung, I guess. But my opinion about medications has been changed. Drastically.

I love my current Doc. He’s friendly, asks questions, I feel like he’s someone I might know otherwise. Super guy, and a really good fit. I wondered though. My other doctors (especially back in the city) knew I had these problems. Why didn’t they ever look into it? Ask questions? If this is the way I was supposed to be feeling all these years, I’ve missed quite a bit. And I wonder what I might have done differently if I hadn’t been in a panic.

But, so what.

It’s fixed, and that’s awesome. And my prescriptions were covered and cost a total of forty-four cents. And I had a blueberry cake donut this morning. And there were lots of church friends visitors in the building today.

I am having a terrific day, and I hope you are too.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Blueberry Cake Donuts and Controlled Substances

  1. Good for you. I recently had a similar revelation about my anxiety and wondered what took me so long to confront it and take responsibility for it. I am not a performer by any means – probably because the mere thought of getting up in front of a crowd sends me into a blind panic – but my anxiety was interfering with other parts of my life. Objectively, I knew my life was downright awesome, yet I still struggled with a constant pit in my stomach and occasional panic attacks. Life is so much better now that I am doing something about it.

    Anyway, glad you’re feeling good!

  2. Sandy

    You have a great doc, and he did you good to prescribe some pills for your anxiety. I believe it’s both a physical shock and a mental shock when you quit smoking. And one contributes to the other, was well. Plus you’ve moved to the country, all your old familiar bases are far away, everything is new–then on top of that you quit smoking–we are more fragile than we think, and so the pills are good to help your relax. In five years much of your daily and seasonal life will be more routine, so that will be less anxiety right there. You don’t want to go into a downward spiral, so you did right to go to the doc and take his prescription. Be careful don’t mix your pills with alcohol. You can accidentally overdose that way. You can use your own judgement in advance to figure out when to have a glass of wine, you might ask your doctor too.

  3. Sandy

    Artists are more sensitive than other people. I’ve noticed this for many years in the people I know. But thanks to you artists, we have terrific organ music at churches, etc.

  4. Pamela

    You should look into EFT, also known as tapping. it is incredibly effective. It got me back to work after 3 and a half years of major anxiety and depression. I still use if for all kinds of things – can’t get to sleep? tap on it. Worried about doing something? tap on it. It has become a sort of joke in the family – in a nice way – but it really works. You can even tap before doing something you are nervous about, like performing for example. I’m sure your doctor would know someone you could go and see if you wanted some help with it but it is easy enough to do on your own.

  5. panic attacks. I hates ’em.

    but I gets ’em when I’m overwhelmed with not having control over a situation- it ain’t pretty and I wouldn’t wish ’em on my second-to-worst enemy.

    (((((PHILL)))))

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