Panic attacks, yeesh they are well named. The panic truly does attack you at unexpected moments, like when you're asleep. At least that's when they get me the most often. Last night I was relatively peacefully asleep. I say relatively because lately I've been dreaming every night about somebody dying. Sometimes it's someone I know and sometimes I don't know who it is. But it's always set in one of my childhood homes, and most of the time it's people from my past. Some poor people die repeatedly. I'm sure a dream expert would tell me it's about cutting ties with my old life, starting on the new or some such thing. But for me, it's just very distressing. When I was a child I had a recurring dream that someone had dismembered our dog and left him beside the rubbish bins which were located below my bedroom window. Every morning I had to go look to be sure he wasn't lying there. Analyse that folks! Maybe I'm just a bizarre freaky person.
However I must have run out of people to kill because last night it was quite a nice dream about two dogs I once owned, both dead now but they were both great dogs and in my dream young and strong and happy. So I have no idea why I woke feeling like I was strangling from a panic attack but they've been happening quite a lot lately. I used to have them all the time, pretty sure I've written a blog about them in fact but too lazy to go check...
Last night, well it was actually 3am - the prime time for me to wake with some sort of issue it seems - anyway it was dark and I was in bed and should have been asleep. Instead I woke to the spirals of panic threatening to squeeze my lungs. The first few times I had these I was sure I was having a heart attack, but no, just my body messing with my head. Or maybe the other way around.
So I lay there, trying to apply the tricks I've learned to calm down. It's really hard to do with my body flooded with adrenalin and the fight or flight instinct high. I lie as still as I can but I can feel my legs twitching as the primitive part of my brain tries to make me flee. I've tried lots of ways to stop it happening. I've tried getting up and watching TV to distract myself which sometimes works after a while. I've tried walking around the house which does work but only after half an hour or so - but good exercise. I've tried meditation but if you've been reading my blogs you'll know I pretty much suck at meditation when I really need it - like when I'm having a panic attack.
Slow even breathing was what I tried last night, along with the whole breathe in peace breathe out anxiety thought process. Didn't work. The panic was spiralling higher, the muscles in my legs were actually spasming, the need to run was so strong. I was beginning to have difficulty breathing and my heart was doing the whole pitter pat patter pit thing. I decided to get up and write a blog - this blog - on panic attacks and see if that stopped it. Now when I have insomnia I often lie awake and compose a blog post or plan out a chapter. I always say 'I'll remember that' and I always forget by the time I wake again. Last night I started to plan the blog post while I tried to calm myself enough to get out of bed without falling out.
Well I got so caught up in my mental writings that it served to calm me down. So instead of getting up I finished the post, chose the type of pictures I would use and went back to sleep. Of course when I woke I had no memory of the blog post I composed, but full memory of the panic attack. That's the insidious thing about them, you remember them very well and then the next night you're already anxious because you're afraid of having another one. Which of course you do since you've got yourself in a state of high anxiety.
Panic attacks aside I've become completely absorbed in this third book about the street cats. I decided to write a brief introduction about the history of the cat in Egypt and did a little bit of research. Well as my friend Sheena would agree, I am research girl and once started don't know when to stop. So my brief history is still brief but a lot more detailed than I had originally planned. And I'm having a blast writing it. I've only written a couple of thousand words but they are the result of hours and hours of research. I've been out searching for the street cats and taking photos of them too. I'm only using my iphone camera (did I say that already?) as I don't have another camera and anyway the point is to showcase the lovely scenes you can find if you only look. Even an iphone camera can capture wonderful shots - albiet without a terribly good zoom feature.
So why am I having panic attacks when I'm having such fun writing this book? I don't know. Perhaps it's because Zora's Dawn is languishing and so is the shelter book. But I'm doing this deliberately to give myself distance from Zora's Dawn so that I can finish the final chapter and edit with a more detached viewpoint. And this book will be an excellent companion book to the shelter book. Plus there is someone I need to interview for the shelter book and I must wait to do that. So it shouldn't be that. Perhaps it's that old insecurity rising up telling me I'm wasting my time and why would anyone want to read a book that I've written. I guess that might be it. I really don't know. If I did, I think I wouldn't be having panic attacks. And I think I'll be having the panic attacks until I figure out why which is a pretty depressing thought really.
Well that's still not the blog post on communication difficulties due to shades of grey in word meanings. I guess that will be next time. For now, I'll show you the book cover as it is right now - subject to change and a couple of the photos I have once I get to the photographic section of the book. I do have lots of illustrations in the front part of the book since I believe history is more alive with pictures. And I have a reference page that's rather long - a non fiction book needs references after all. Anyway, here are today's pics:
Try not to anyway :)