I’m playing around with the idea of doing a blog series called, “Story Time Sunday,” where I will post stories from my past in the spirit of memory preservation. I don’t know if I will have a story to share every week, but I thought that it would be a fun experiment. So, I’m going to start the series off today with the story about the worst panic attack that I’ve had thus far.
About a year or 2 ago, my preteen son Brent was struggling at school. He had started to hang out with the goth kids, which I am totally cool with. However, I think that the doom and gloom mentality had started to wear off on him. I had noticed that he was showing signs of depression so I thought that it would be good for him to get out of the house to do something fun. My son doesn’t have many interests aside from video games, so it took me a while to find something that I thought that he would be into. Ultimately I decided on a Lindsey Stirling and Evanescence concert a few hours away.
When the concert day rolled around, my mother-in-law saw that she had to meet up with her niece that day who was visiting from out of town. We agreed to ride together in her car to the city where the concert was being held. After arriving there, My son and I would take her car to the concert while my mother-in-law would ride back home with her niece. Everything worked out perfectly. My son and I arrived at the concert safely and had a great time. We loved getting to see Lindsey Stirling play live. She truly was fantastic. Additionally, I felt like I was able to live out one of my high school dreams by getting to see Evanescence.
Just as the concert was ending, it started to rain. Freshy sunburnt and without an umbrella, my son and I rushed back to the car, which was parked in the middle of a dark muddy field. It was dark now and I was struggling to find the switch to turn on the headlights. I tried everything I could think of but they still wouldn’t turn on. Ultimately, I had to call my mother-in-law to figure it out. Apparently, the car’s headlights wouldn’t turn on while the car was in reverse. After sorting out the headlight issue, we were finally able to take off. I pulled out onto the main road and started to feel the first wave of panic roll in.
The rain was pounding down and it was hard to see through the windshield. All of the break lights and streetlights around me looked like blurred streaks of light. I decided to pull off into a grocery store parking lot to wait for the rain to ease up. However, it was still raining 45 mintues later. Thankfully, my son remained in good spirits the whole time. I gave myself a few pep talks before deciding to give it another shot. I pulled out into the main road and then onto the highway. It was then that everything really went south.
Instead of letting up, it began to rain even harder. Rain pelted against the windshield as I increased speed. All of the lights around me were still blurred and I couldn’t even see an inch in front of us. I tried to drive slowly, but the other cars on the road began to speed around to pass me. I was driving blind. The highway split into 6 lanes, each one starting and ending in different places. My muscles tensed up and my hands clinched around the wheel. My jaw locked and I started to hyperventilate. My body got extremely cold and I was shivering. Instead of trying to look out my windshield, I rolled down my window and stuck my head out to see where I was going. I pulled off at the next exit and blindly pulled into the closest gas station. Cars honked as I cut off traffic pulling in.
God bless him, my son was still totally relaxed. I parked the car and began trying to apologize to him and attempting to explain what was happening but I couldn’t speak. I started crying and stuttering. I managed to tell him that I just needed a few minutes to calm down. I locked the doors, turned on the radio, and laid my seat back. I tried to focus on my breathing to calm myself down. Finally, I was able to speak again. Though I was still stuttering, I explained to my son that I couldn’t see through the rain and it sent me into a panic attack. He had never seen me like that before, so I had to explain to him what anxiety was and how it can come up when someone senses a threat. He was very calm and understanding but I hated that he had to see me that way.
I took him into the store and let him buy some snacks. When we walked back to the car, I decided to call my mom. It was about 10PM at this point. I told my mom what had happened and told her that I didn’t think that I could drive home. I asked her if she would come to get us. My mother lived about 2 hours away from where we were, so I understood her wanting me to give it another try before she agreed to come get us. After getting off the phone, I sat in the parking lot trying to talk myself into giving it another try. The thought of driving cased my jaw to lock up again. I called my husband who didn’t answer. He was already in bed. This sent me into a panic, wondering if our daughter was okay at home with him. I started to freak out so I called one of our neighbors and asked them if they would go check on my husband and daughter. Thankfully, they agreed.
Everything was fine at home, and my neighbor had my husband give me a call. My husband didn’t understand my anxiety, so he was a bit irritated at the fact that I couldn’t drive home. I assured him that one way or another, I would make it there. I contemplated renting a motel for the night so I could just drive home the next day, but I had no idea where to find a motel.
I sat in that gas station for several hours before breaking down and calling my mom again. I started crying and apologizing to her for being unable to drive. I felt like an idiot for freaking out as bad as I was. Even after the rain stopped, I felt unable to leave the parking lot. My mom agreed to come to us so I could follow her home. After 2 hours of waiting, I was on the road again, following my moms tail lights. I was still in a panic, taking shallow breaths and gripping the steering wheel for dear life. Having her tail lights to follow made driving a bit easier. Thankfully, we made it home safely by approximately 4AM. My son slept in the car the whole way home. My mom told me not to feel bad, because even she had struggled to see through the rain on her way to get us, but I still did.
So, that’s the story of the worst panic attack that I’ve had thus far. If you made it through all of this, thank you. I’m sure that people have experienced much worse, but this attack was really tough for me. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it has scarred me from driving in the rain forever. I’m still trying to overcome the trauma of this attack 2 years later without much success. I’m hoping that it gets easier as time goes on.
Love Always, AnxiouslyM