Beyond Blue reader Larry Parker has written a brave, raw account of a recent panic attack. He has used his gift of language to describe for others exactly how it feels to be trapped by a brain’s disease. To get to his journal entry, click here. Following is an excerpt:
And then I lost it. Completely.
When I pointed out to my stepfather he didn’t have to call me an idiot and moron for that, he said, “Yes, I do! You’re so clumsy that’s all I can do to remind you.” I forget what I said in response, but it was angry and at the top of my lungs. To which he responded (rather dubiously, given what he had just said), “Hey, I don’t have to treat you as an adult if you don’t act like an adult.” (A guy who, it must be said, blows his own stack every day or two on a routine basis.)
And then the chain reaction was complete, and the fuel rods disintegrated. And I just started screaming, “YOU HATE ME! YOU HATE ME! YOU HATE ME! YOU HATE ME!” at my mom, my stepdad, and probably half the neighborhood by that point.
And then I started hyperventilating, having heart flutters/palpitations, and basically a full-blown panic attack.
Bless my mother, she realized that even as wrong as I had been, something was seriously wrong with me. “Are you having a heart attack?” she asked, seriously. (She was also worried the same thing had happened to my stepdad, a veteran of four MI’s.)
“No, I’m having a panic attack,” I replied, truthfully. “Oh, and a brain attack as well.”
Meanwhile, my stepdad; when I tried to apologize 15 minutes later (after I caught my breath at last), literally gave me the Fran Drescher “Talk to the hand” signal. Ugh.
So I gathered up all my courage and said, “If you’re not going to talk to me, I need to speak my piece. And this is not about you — I said I was wrong and I’m sorry — this is about me.”
And here’s what I said:
“When you see me have a temper tantrum like that — and I’m not saying it’s right, it’s OK, it’s fair, it’s good or even that I have an excuse — I want you to understand something. What you see is what my brain is like every single week, every single day, every single hour, every single minute, every single second. And that’s with the best medicine I’ve ever taken, an excellent therapist, eating better and exercising more.”
My mother, rising to the challenge, said, “This is why I keep telling you to see another therapist or get other medicine. It’s not working.”
“No,” I said resolutely, “IT’S BECAUSE I HAVE A DISEASE CALLED BIPOLAR DISORDER. And it’s been worse in the past — oh, yes it has.”