Why? Why not!?!

June 2002 Archives

Reflections from the Road?

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OK? this is the update to Reflections that I didn't expect to be making. Hell, this reflection is one I never even wanted to be making. At this point, I should be in the air, expecting to land in Detroit in about half an hour.

But I'm not. Instead, I'm drinking some fresh squeezed orange juice from a nearly-neon-orange colored plastic container upstairs from the gate where my flight departed. I tried, I really tried to take that flight. I wasn't nervous or worrying last night. I wasn't upset or bothered on the ride to the airport. I wasn't even anxious or panicky while waiting to board the plane. In fact, my only concern was whether or not I should try to watch ?A Beautiful Mind? on DVD on my computer, or whether the battery would hold up long enough. Or maybe I'd have to turn it off when it got good (hell, I don't know? maybe it doesn't get good). But I had no idea that I'd have a mild panic attack.

It was the first panic attack I'd had since last July or August. Yes, that was around 11 months ago. ELEVEN MONTHS!! Hell, I'd done so well, that in all probability, I would be off of all medication in about a month. I really thought that all of this was over with.

So, what happened? I guess since I haven't taken the time to put in a "Reflection" of my panic attacks, I'll describe it more than I normally would. I will at some point, copy my reflections of the initial panic attacks onto the site.

Today's was mild - but it was a panic attack nonetheless. When I sat down in my seat on the plane, I immediately turned on the cool air to aim at my face. That's just habit. I always have the A/C or fan going, I always have a window cracked when in the car. I also thought that the light coming in through the little window was awfully bright, so I closed the little window shade. I was still all right at this point.

I felt a little cramped. I had an empty seat next to me, so I shouldn't have felt too cramped. So, I leaned the seat back a little bit. I was expecting the flight attendant to ask me to move it back into the "upright position" before takeoff? but even if she did, I could lean it back if I needed more space. I was still not expecting any sort of anxiety attack.

And then it hit me? I begin to sweat profusely. I began to feel claustrophobic. I began to feel as if I had to use the bathroom. I knew that there was nothing to worry about ? that these were pretty much "fake feelings". In reality, I had plenty of space. I would have cooled off if I gave it a chance. And I knew I didn't need to use the restroom ? I had gone about 30 minutes before boarding. I knew this was the onset of a panic attack.

I tried my relaxation exercises. I even tried breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth ? that had been one of the most relieving exercises in past anxious situations. But nothing helped. And then panic set in. When the flight attendant walked by, I told her that I had an anxiety/panic disorder, and that I felt a panic attack coming on. And I asked her if I could get off the plane. Thankfully (at least for then), she let me do so? they hadn't closed the door to the plane, and as I got off, the guy who was loading the luggage asked me if I was OK. I told him the same thing I told the flight attendant, and he immediately asked her to give me some water. He tried to assure me that the plane was safe and that he had these problems too.

It was about this time, that I began to get light headed. Sweat was pouring off of my head, and my arms and legs were soaked. I knelt over, and braced myself in case I would black out, and let the breeze cool me off (at least a little). And then the guy asks me what I wanted to do, and that they needed to know something soon. I told him that I couldn't take the flight. And he "escorted" me back to the gate.

All of the airline people have been very helpful. My guess is that they deal with these situations from time to time and know how to help us out. I'm booked to try again at 12:55. But this time, I'm gonna take some Xanax beforehand. That should get me there. We'll see, I guess.

Now, it?s time to figure out why this happened. In therapy, I've learned to try to look beyond the physical feelings of the situation, and to look more at the emotional feelings. What was I feeling? Why might I have been feeling that way? That's what I'm trying to do now.

Right now, I'm disappointed. I had tried so hard to get over this problem. I've gone for so long without any problems that I was under the false assumption that I was "cured". Obviously not. I really wanted to be taken off of all of the anti-depressants. I'd been weaned down to one pill a day (from triple that dosage a mere 4 to 5 months ago), and was within a month of being totally taken off of it. I'm not sure about that anymore.

Right now, I'm angry at myself. Maybe it was beyond my control. If so, then anger isn't gonna help things. That goes back to control issues. If you can't control it, let it go? it's a waste of time, energy, effort, and emotion worrying about things you can't control. I'm angry at myself for not sticking in there longer and fighting it. I knew that all of those "symptoms" were pretty much figments of my imagination -- that I could control them ? that calming myself down would probably make them go away. But I chose to flee the situation. I feel kind of cowardly, and I'm upset that I didn't try harder, and that I wasn't more patient with the situation.

But what was I feeling when it happened? Well, I wasn't stressed? I'm on vacation. I wasn't feeling lonely? I was on the way to see a good friend of mine. I wasn't angry, I wasn't sad, I wasn't hurt, I was content. I was looking forward to having a great time in Detroit. I honestly cannot think of any negative emotion that was happening that would lead to me having a panic attack.

In therapy, we've tried to figure out what it is in my life that leads me to feel trapped or closed in. These attacks are supposedly a personification of those feelings. And again, I am stumped. I was taking this trip of my own free will. I had worked hard to ensure that I had the time off from work. I have done everything I needed to do to make sure that I could (can) take this trip. I really cannot figure out why I had this attack.

I'm not afraid of flying. I've flown plenty of times. I've even flown under more crowded circumstances. Safety is most definitely NOT a concern of mine. I am aware how safe flights are, and I have never had to deal with a flight that seemed even remotely unsafe or uncomfortable. I just don't get it.

I mentioned that I was upset for ?failing?. Here?s how I'm going to circumvent that: I'm going to successfully take that 12:55 flight. I am going to take some Xanax, to make sure that I can do it, but I am not going to deny myself the vacation, good time, and rest that I have worked so hard for. Part of me wants to just sit at home and do nothing, instead of trying this. And if I cannot do it, that'll be the end result. But that?s only a small part of me wanting that. I really want to, therefore, I really will do it!

I wonder if I got so used to not having problems that I didn't appropriately prepare myself for this flight. When I flew in January, I did several things to make sure that I could handle the flight: I ate, but didn't eat too much, so that I wouldn't confuse an upset stomach with anxiety. I had medicine if I needed it. I took a flight at a time where I knew the plane wouldn't be as crowded. I spoke to the airline attendant to make sure that I'd still have space. I had run through the scenarios in my mind as to how I'd handle them if they came up.

Was I too complacent? Will I ever be able to not have to worry about or prepare for these kinds of situations? I'm not sure. I do now realize, however, that my anxiety disorder will never be done and over with? I'm guessing for the rest of my life, I'll have to consider options in dealing with anxiety. Probably, this will be only for major events. I can see it now? I'll have to be married in a small, quick ceremony? or maybe something where I can't be embarrassed (justice of the peace?)??. Naaaaahhhhh?. Let?s hope it doesn't come to that!

By now, I would have been on the ground for about a half an hour. I'd have no worries until Sunday, when I'd have to do it again?. But I'd know that on Sunday, that I should prepare for the return trip (Xanax).

Like I said, I'm going to try this trip this afternoon. I'm already preparing for it!

  • Pills will be popped in about an hour!

  • I'll take bottled water on with me in case I need to cool off.

  • I'll ask very early for a seat with as much space as possible.

  • Hopefully, I'll sit on the aisle with an empty seat beside me -- that will make it seem like I have more space (as opposed to having the side of the plane being up against me) -- the aisle on the exit row would be even better!

  • I'll buy something to read ? distraction is a great thing?. If only I could use the computer or Pocket PC for that time around takeoff

  • I hope to be able to sleep on the plane (the Xanax should help with that) --- if not, I'll be on the computer once I'm allowed to.

Questions for the future:

  • Do I need to stay on medication full time, if I only experience anxiety under "special circumstances"?

  • How much worse would this have been without having been on Zoloft?

  • Did I have no problems with the January flight because I was on a higher dosage of Zoloft?

  • Should I only take anti-depressant when I need it (i.e. before taking a flight, or before doing something I know or suspect to be extremely stressful)?

  • Am I trying to medicate a problem that doesn't need to be medicated?

  • Should I try harder to work through this?

Hopefully, the next "Reflection" will be written in July, once I'm back from Detroit. Hopefully, I'll come back rested, relaxed, and have at least a little bit of sun.

But, if for some reason, I can't make it, I'm not gonna beat myself up over it. These kinds of things happen to lots of people. And as hard as I have worked at this, I have still come a LONG WAY from that trip to Tampa. There'll just be more work to do-- and I've never been afraid of hard work.

Buh-Bye & "Open Your Eyes"

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Tomorrow morning, I'm off to Detroit! I can't wait to just get away from here... too bad I'll have to leave here so damn early just to get there early enough to have a whole day. Ehhh... it's vacation... who cares? I can sleep on the plane. OR I might try watching a DVD on my computer while on the plane.

Just think... a mere 4 to 5 months ago, riding on a plane was the "final test" to make sure that I was over my Anxiety Disorder. And I worried about whether or not I'd be so worried about it that I'd have a panic attack. It's funny (well, not really) how much that whole problem builds (built?) upon itself. I didn't have any problem then, and now am not even worried about having a problem. Bring on the fun! There is a down side to my little get-away: my sunglasses didn't get finished before I had to leave... that means I'll either have to buy an el-cheapo brand to get me through, or just do without (well, maybe I could borrow some)...

"Open Your Eyes"
OK... I finally managed to watch all of "Vanilla Sky" without accidentally dozing off during an important part... and my opinion?

Huh? Is this the first movie to ever discourage dreaming? I guess the "moral of the story" could be quit dreaming about it, and just get out there and do it... I could see that... but "Vanilla Sky" didn't quite hit home with that meaning...

I think that the movie is so wrapped up in the whole Pulp Fiction-esque idea that you need to watch the movie again to figure it out, or to see what you might have missed, that the point of the movie was missed. They kept using the phrase "Open Your Eyes"... again, this could reference the "quit thinking about it and do it" mantra I previously mentioned.... but doesn't "Open your eyes" make you think about paying attention more than waking up? Ehhh... I don't know...

It wasn't a bad movie (even though both Tom Cruise and Cameron Crowe both caught some criticism for this movie)... I just think they missed they point.... OR, maybe I missed the point... I'm not sure which...

The irony of this movie is that Cruise made a decision (his dream) which was supposed to last "forever"... and he chose a future with someone he had only met twice... He dreamt of a love and a future (well, that future got kind of fucked up) which had nearly no basis... At the end, he was somewhat solaced by the fact that she (Penelope Cruz's character) had at least felt some of what he felt too.... and then he chose to "Go out and live", because he was tired of dreaming!

I don't know about you, but I can relate a little bit to extending thoughts toward futures with no basis (you know... "What if I ended up with her"... or "What if I did this instead of that"...), but in reality it doesn't matter... it's not worth worrying about because it wasn't meant to be in the first place....

OMG, did I just relate "Vanilla Sky" to Control Issues? Methinks I've been in therapy too damned long :) !!!

Oh, btw... I believe that I would still take a psycho Cameron Diaz over a loving Penelope Cruz any day!!!

Oh well, gotsta pack... gotsta get up pretty damn early tomorrow!!! So, Beer Distributors of Detroit, get ready, here I come!!!!!!

Getting Away

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Man, it's been a couple of weeks since I've entered any Reflections... I need to stay on top of things a little better...

Last weekend was Father's Day. So, I again ventured into the lovely world of Lynchburg to see my Dad (as well as my brother, who is soon to be a dad). What did we all do? We took a trip out of Lynchburg... to a place even more dull... to South Boston, VA... Ok, it was specifically to the South Boston Raceway to see a night of racing. Racing isn't my thing, but both my Dad and my bro love it, so that was a cool way to hang out and let them celebrate.

We're approaching 6 weeks until I'm gonna be an uncle! Time is a-flyin'... and when the little one decides to come, I'll definitely be heading down to Lynchburg to see my new niece or nephew...

So, all of these trips have been about seeing family... well, this coming Wednesday, I'm off to see a friend. It sounds like a V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N!!!! About fucking time!!!

At 8:55 am on Wednesday morning, I'll be off to "Motown" or "Hockeytown", Detroit, MI. And coming back on Sunday. I'll be visiting a buddy of mine, Joel, who before my birthday last month, I hadn't seen in nearly 2 years. It should a good time.... I'd almost bet money (well, we WILL do a LITTLE gambling), that drinking will fit into that equation at least a little bit. He's talking about doing some boating (I'm hoping to Jet-Ski, too), and perhaps catching a concert or something.... It doesn't really matter... it's gonna be fun no matter what we get into!!!


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I just got back from seeing Alanis Morissette. I had a really good time, and she put on a really good show.... but I have some thoughts...

The Lost Art
OK. I spent much of last summer too sick to even try to go to a concert. But the year before, I probably hit around 8 concerts. Could things have changed that much in 2 years? What happened to the art of tailgating before a concert? Tonight, we got to Merriweather-Post Pavilion around an hour or so before the opening band (Res or Ras or Rog from "What's Happening".... something like that), expecting people to be partying outside of the show... Tailgating... Well, hardly no one was... Has this trend disappeared? Do people not do that anymore?

Angry Women?
OK... Alanis is supposed to be an "Angry Woman". She writes about how Men are so wrong and so bad... and women flock to her shows. I'd bet there was a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of women to men there tonight... Note, I didn't say straight women to men...

Anyways, Alanis sings about how men are basically pigs, evil and wrong. But guess what she does to make me totally disbelieve all of that? She wears a shirt, with the boobs cut out of it... .and some sort of lacy sports bra-looking thing underneath it. How can you be angry woman, anti-man, if you're exposing your tits? She cannot have an argument that will satisfy me on this one...

Did you know that Alanis actually plays an instrument? And I mean more than the 2 notes she repeats ad naseum on the harmonica... Yeah, she can play guitar, too.... I never knew....

Security Guards -- for what?
Chris and I were talking to these 2 girls, when a Security Guard came up to one of the girls, took away her beer, and threw it away. She let him... and then wondered.... why did he do that? So, I ask him to come back and answer that question. His answer: "Because you have a beer".

OK, that has to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. She bought the beer from the Merriweather Post vendors... why the hell should she have to throw it away? When the security guard found out that the beer was purchased there, he reached into his pocket and pulled out $8 for the girl to go buy another beer.

I know that Alanis is pretty young, but she appeared a little older than she is, in person. I'm not sure if the original promotes an accurate time frame, but we should be all right now!!

Random Thoughts

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Yesterday was my first day back to the gym in a LONG while -- over 6 months, I'd guess. It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be, though. I didn't try to overdo it. That's the easiest way to NOT make a habit of it. I did 15 minutes on the elliptical machine, and then did chest and back, and finished up with 30 minutes on the treadmill. I got really tired in the middle of working on my back, and decided not to do Abs... probably not the best decision, but oh well... what can I do about it now?

This happened to me the last go round too: When on the treadmill, and trying to get up to a light jog, my shins would begin to hurt. I'm not sure if they're "shin splints" or not, but it made me slow down to a fast walk instead. Again, since it was the first day back, I'm not that worried about it. If I'm still bothered by this in a couple of weeks, maybe I'll begin to worry.

So, here's my fitness goal: I want to lose 10 pounds by the end of the summer. That will have me near where I was at Christmas time, and at the weight I "stabilized" at after all of my medical weight loss of last year. I also would like to lose 20 pounds (that's not 30 pounds all together, but 20 pounds all together) by the end of the year. That will put me near what I weighed when in the midst of all of my medical problems. BUT, meeting that goal will be sweeter.... by then, I won't be on the Zoloft any more, and it will mean that I got to that weight without the medicine. As good as I looked last year when I had lost all of the weight because of the Zoloft (I know, some people thought I was TOO SKINNY), I will feel even better having gotten there by myself.

I spoke with Joel this past weekend, and he tells me that TESLA is playing outside of Detroit sometime in July. Guess What? That should have meant that I'd be there without a hitch! But in true Bri-man luck, I can't go then. Why not? Because I already have Sheryl Crow tickets for Merriweather Post on the SAME NIGHT!! Talk about great timing!! It couldn't have been a night apart, could it? DAMN IT!!!

Oh well, this Friday begins my summer concert series (sounds like something someone might say on the radio, huh?)!!! Friday night at Merriweather Post is Alanis Morrisette!!! Should be a good show.... and a chance to knock back a few beers!!!


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This page is an archive of entries from June 2002 listed from newest to oldest.

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