TS 3: Dealing with a peculiar panic attack

I woke my own shrink in the middle of the night. Luckily, MOS is I.

This is just wonderful, having myself for a shrink. If I feel for a session in the middle of the night, I can do it, no resentment.

Let’s start.

What is going on?

I just woke up with a strange feeling that scared me. I think it’s similar to the sensation when you have a panic attack. The one when you feel unreality. But it just goes on and on. It’s been subsiding really slowly for the past two hours. I still feel odd and scared.

Did you have other symptoms of the panic attack? Like:
– heart palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate;
– trembling or shaking;
– excessive sweating;
– chills or hot flashes;
– sensations of shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or smothering;
– chest pain or discomfort;
– nausea or abdominal distress;
– a feeling of choking;
– feeling faint, dizzy, lightheaded, or unsteady;
– feelings of unreality (derealization) or being detached from oneself (depersonalization);
– fear of dying;
– fear of losing control or going crazy;
– numbness or tingling sensations (paresthesias).

Not really. Maybe nausea. I felt I need to eat something. Like I didn’t have a good dinner. Then I ate a few cookies but I felt worse because I don’t stand those cookies.

— [Jack] — I have a comment on the cookies: Why do you eat cookies you can’t stand? Now you feel sick! Well, sicker. —

Have you had these sensations before? Are they the same or different?

Yes, I often have panic attacks, but today it was a bit different. It felt odder, I also feel it still – it’s longer, this utterly horrible derealization feeling. But I didn’t have other symptoms, like with my usual panic attacks. Usually, I experience a pounding heart and sweating, and the fear of dying. I don’t remember other sensations, if I had any other.
I usually wake in a panic attack because of the pounding heart. When I was young I often woke with the feeling someone quickly turned my bed upside down and I was about to fall. Nowadays I recognise the attack right away and I stay still, breathe slowly until my heart calms and the attack subsides pretty quickly. I don’t remember, though, whether I feel derealization longer than the attack. I think I do, but not as long as today.

Do you think of something that could have caused the sensation?

There were a few things out of the normal.
For starters, I woke with my baby still attached to my breast. Usually, I give her to drink, then calm her, and put to sleep in her bed. Yesterday evening, she was restless, and I too exhausted to do the procedure, so I put her beside me, where we both, sooner or later, fell asleep. I think I woke because my boy was moaning which means he needs to go to the toilet, so we went. I moved my baby where she should be, and carried my boy to the bathroom. We did the deed, I escorted him back, and returned to the bathroom because I wanted to get a grip. I browsed Kindle books for almost an hour but I felt restless more and more. I felt guilty, but couldn’t pinpoint exactly why. This is why I called you in.

You said there were more things out of the normal?

I don’t remember all …

— [Jack] — Or you had only one thing out of normal, but you said a few because you think one is not legitimate enough to have —

There were two things before I went to sleep that could have attributed to the feeling. I said I felt guilty. This could be because I felt guilty toward my little boy who I promised to put to sleep without my baby girl so I could give him some one-on-one time. And then ended up putting them both to sleep, even for the worse than usual. And getting angry at him again. And not discussing the sleep matter with my husband (yet again). Not making up my mind on that yet, yet again.

— [Jack] — Check your stress levels —

Let me pause on this. It’s a long subject which we need to address in depth. We’ll return to it. What was the other thing? To have an overview …  

It’s nothing. It shouldn’t be nothing, but it obviously is, since it bothers me enough. It happened before in the day. I must explain further.
I buy Kindle books on Amazon. According to my husband, quite a lot compared to him. Nothing wrong with this, though. But, I am now, for the past three months, on a budget. I am just a few bucks above my limit, and when my paycheck comes in a few days, my credit card is already full (i.e. empty), and I’ll end up pretty close to what I’m in now. So, I don’t have any money. This is the background. And today I was idly browsing Kindle books, in the parenting sections, and I stumbled upon an interesting book. I also don’t have time to read, but I should read a book on parenting since I do a lousy job at it.
Then, I can’t choose a good book. I don’t know which ones are good. So I browse and browse, and lose more time. Let’s say I feel guilty about losing time too. So I found this book, downloaded a sample, and started reading it. The reviews said it was common sense and I knew a few things already, so usually I wouldn’t buy this book right away but wait for the decision to simmer. The cost was twice as much as I usually give for books, but not as much as the other books I downloaded the samples of.

I read the sample, liked it moderately, and then I clicked the Buy button. It’s automatic. So, as soon as I bought it, I remembered I was on a budget, and that I should have waited at least for a few days more, to see if I had any money left after the paycheck. And I even didn’t have time to read books, not with the sleep deprivation lately. So, where was that Purchase-by-accident button when you needed it? I couldn’t find it. I pressed here and there, probably ended my futile attempts even sooner with pressing all the wrong buttons.

— [Jack] — Do we say buttons if we use a touchscreen? I know, not helping —

So, the end. Purchased by accident and I couldn’t find an undo option. I went through the Settings and Help, and found an option, Return for refund. Yipee! (but I didn’t feel as euphoric). I went through the procedure, cancelled (returned) the book, and that was it. But it actually wasn’t. I had issues left.
First of all, I needed to allow cookies on my phone browser. I should have done this on a PC, but I wanted to do it right away, and I wasn’t near a PC. I don’t know my view on cookies on a smartphone (besides leaving the settings as they are), and I’m left with unfinished business and undecided viewpoints.
Then, the Return-for-refund will take from 3 to 5 days. It’s no use for me. I need it now. I want my Purchase-by-accident option. It’s embarrassing, even if only to me, to return something you bought with eyes wide open / of my own accord.
And last, with Return-for-refund option, there is probably a possibility for me, to get a little money back. Provided it works fine with no strange obligations.

— [Jack] — But … —

But there’s always a but … If I did return a few books, I needed to redefine my views, my identity. I do reviews on Amazon. I pride myself on every review (but one), and that they are all Verified Purchases. I also pride myself on a large library. What happens if I return books I already done reviews for? What happens if I return too many books? I wanted to write a review for every book I read (in my Kindle library first, because they are Verified purchases). If I only returned books that I didn’t like or were written by aspiring authors … I want to be an author, I don’t want my books to be returned for refund, I want them to be cherished. I don’t want to do things to others that I don’t want others do to me.
You see, many questions unanswered from a simple action. No wonder I had a panic attack.

— [Jack] — When you mention it, the feeling did subside now, after the confession part, didn’t it? But you ate the rest of the cookies, and you feel sick, right? Stress eater. —

— [Don] — You are me, I am you, and we are Anney so don’t you call us names. —

It is better, now that I spilt the beans. I still don’t know what to do, but I know my reasons. Time to think. I should probably do something, but I’m not sure what.

What are your options?

It’s hard to see a way out when in a vicious circle of thoughts. 

For the time being, you should move from being pushed to being active in your life. First steps. What can you do to resolve this pressing problem? Can you extract the problem out of what you told me about Return-for-refund?

I don’t know what to do?

It helps to be more specific.

I’m not informed enough to make a decision? Or, I have messed-up priorities? I worry about what others would think of me, even if they wouldn’t know it was me? I worry about things no one worries about? I fear bad karma?

— [Jack] — I’m indecisive, or am I? —

This is a lot. One thing at a time. Choose one of them. Other stuff will turn up eventually again if you have problems with it. What is the most specific problem at this point?

I have money problems and I don’t want to return any books, or at least not many. I must look which books are not important to me so I can return them.

Focus on this specific problem. Then, when your viewpoint is completely clear, move on to the next problem. I suggest though, that you use ‘can’ instead of ‘must’. You can do something, you choose to do something. It’s a way to gain control in small steps.
So, what can you do?

I can get informed what is actually possible with the return policy. I can decide to return books or not. 

You’re on the right path. Take one step, one decision. Decide to return or not return the books first. Then move on to a next decision. 

We’ll continue next time.

There are two types of solutions to psychological problems: the ones which are aimed at you as a whole, that is, long term, and those which are aimed at the pressing matters, i.e. fast fixes. (Tweet this.)
Inability to solve pressing matters results in instability as a person. Together we’ll learn to be good problem solvers. During our sessions, the right direction will show, and the right way to solve problems for you. 

As for the panic attack today, let’s wait a bit. It may have been just a single incident. Do your homework and come again next week, the sooner the better. 

All right, back to sleep.

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