I’ve been thinking a lot, recently, about how far I have come in four years, since diagnosis, as an adult. One of the biggest changes that I’ve experienced, though it is positive, has been causing me some problems recently, and I think I need a therapy tune-up. I don’t think of this as a regression – I’ve truly evolved and I truly just need some help with adjusting to my new way of interacting with the world.
The basis of the problem is this (I may have written about this a bit previously, it’s just very much on my mind today) – my life is more organized and less chaotic than it was four years ago. I used to just accept chaos as pretty normal, and even though I was frustrated by it sometimes, it was my life, it was what I knew, and I took it mostly in stride, most of the time. Over the past four years, I’ve deprogrammed myself. Medication and trying new approaches to life, have made my life, overall, more manageable. The problem…is that now, now I can see chaos coming, and I no longer recognize it as normal. As a result, my mind and body react to it as a foreign invader.
Friday, I found myself prepping to run an event. I run over 50 events/year. I’ve been running events for 8 years now. I’m good at running events. But I could see pretty clearly that I was a little in over my head here. I could pull it off, but the list of things that needed to all line up in order to make it happen was intimidating. And I began to panic. Fortunately, I had a dedicated helper who was coming to assist me, and it’s a good thing. As vendors arrived and I needed to show them to their spots, totally normal questions (and anxieties…this is a normally anxious group of people) sent my mind fragmenting and my inner voice screaming. Finally, a vendor who is also a personal friend looked at me and said “are you ok” and I said “nope, not at all”.
He asked me to come out to his car to help him unload. When we got there, I reached for items to carry and he said “I don’t need you to help me, I just knew the only way to get you to leave the building was if I told you I needed help”. Well played my friend, well played.
I was as close to a panic attack as you can get without actually having a panic attack, which is to say that I was totally panicking, but I wasn’t a) crying in the corner b) passing out c) thinking I was dying…yet. Fortunately – and I say this as someone who NEVER drinks while working – but fortunately, knowing that I wasn’t feeling quite myself, I’d brought a bottle of wine with me in my snack bag. I busted that thing open and my helper and I each had some. I probably had about 4-5 ounces at most – and it was enough to stop the panic cycle. I just don’t like it that I had to drink to calm myself, in a situation where I always used to be calm as a matter of routine (I knew the alcohol would wear off faster than ativan, or I would have taken one of those, and I certainly never take them at the same time).
I don’t really have the luxury of changing professions any time soon, and I do have great skills for doing this type of work. But I really couldn’t handle knowing that all of my ducks were not in a row – and the thing is, with this type of work, you NEVER have all of your ducks in a row because you can’t totally control all of the ducks. I basically herd people for a living – I need to cultivate some reasonable expectations. I need to figure out how to reaccess my ability to troubleshoot, within my new world order. And I honestly don’t know how to do that – without help.
Time for a therapy tune-up.