"I'm sorry to do this honey, but I'm having an attack."
I got those words out before the light I had slammed on even illuminated the room. It was about 5 am on a Wednesday morning a few weeks back, and I was having a panick attack. I haven't struggled with these on a regular basis for YEARS. I've had one or two in those years, but this one was different.
Mr. Zoom, dead asleep and shaken awake by sudden bright light and a sweaty, crazed wife was understandably barely realizing what was going on before I sternly ordered him to "OPEN YOUR EYES AND LOOK AT ME." As we discussed the situation later, a lot later, I was marveling at how I had gotten so insistent and issued him an order like that. He said next time he's going to respond with "SIR YES SIR!" which made us both giggle.
It is so hard to describe what happens when an attack strikes. Mr. Zoom, for not ever having had one himself, is amazingly patient and will do anything to help bring my raving ass back down to Earth. Even when I've Bam Margera'd him in the wee hours of the morning. And without a lot of practice. The man is a saint.
He finally talked me down and then the humiliation of the situation sent me the other direction with a lump in my gut for good measure. Mr. Zoom contends that "falling apart" [my words] in front of him is not a cry worthy event. I completely disagree. He says he understands, that he knows what I'm dealing with, and he's not going anywhere. That these things are not a chore to him, that "we are a team". I can't get beyond the fact that physical things happen to me that I can't control, and that I sometimes need the help of someone else at a time I perceive as incredibly inconvenient for that person.
Oh, and lets not forget that at the time I'm asking for help? I'm pretty much ignoring everything offered to me AS help. I am a cartoon character when I'm having an attack.
To me, these panic attacks are and have been the only real threat to my being able to exist as a "normal" person. If I were to make a post secret card, it would say "I live in constant fear that my meds will stop working some day." One half would have a perfectly together image with friends and family facing me. The other half would have a disheveled lunatic with friends and family facing away from me. A line right down the middle with a tablet in the center. And the friends and family as turned away from me is not a statement about the people in my life. What it is - it is the fact that I know that if it ever got to that point that I'd likely chase everyone away from me because I know what this condition can do to the people around the affected.
Just ask my parents. They pretty much had to babysit their 19-22 year old daughter through some very rough times. Though they love me, they did not hide the fact that I was very much a constant, unfortunate consideration they had to work around in their daily lives.
So that is why I fear more than almost anythig, falling apart in front of Mr. Zoom. Losing him or inadvertently chasing him away from me would be something I could not bear.
And this recent attack and general feeling of - weirdness - was different because instead of a generic panic attack, it came with a bunch of hallucinatory elements. The kinds of things that happen when people like me miss a dose of medication. Which I had not, which caused even more alarm on my part, which in turn sent me raving at my husband. Telling your husband that you aren't only panicking, but that your head is providing an unwanted podcast from lunatic.com is probably one of the scariest things I will ever have to do. Events like those tend to lead to mental hospitals, not a heretofore happy existence as a normal person doing normal things and facing normal ups and downs.
High levels of sadness, anger, humiliation and doubt accompanied me to the gym, to the office, at home and finally to the Dr. yesterday. I've been seeing this Dr. since 1997 or 1998. He is the one who brought me out of the fog the first time. We went over the attacks, the fact that I'm having withdrawal symptoms without missing any meds or without any significant changes in life/food/existence otherwise. Then he asked me "are any of your prescriptons filled with generic tablets?" As a matter of fact, yes. One was.
He said [and I'm paraphrasing although it is in quotes] "That might be the answer. The makers of generic medicines are legally permitted to dial down their products - well, at least it's not worded that way. In other words, generics are permitted a range of between 80 and 120% of the actual active ingredient - when tested, the dose just has to have a result within 80 and 120% of the name brand. So sometimes, to save money, some generic brands will dial down a batch. They often hit the market at 100%, but slowly bring it down while no one notices. Plus, there are things thant can be done, additives that can cause the sample to metabolize at a good rate in a test, but not so effectively in a human body."
So now I have prescriptions for name brand only meds. If this fixes things, I will be very grateful. Because having an attack from withdrawals - but not knowing that is/was the isue, was very much enough for me to start arranging for my last days of sanity. It's hard for me to write that and realize it sounds very very drama queenish. All I can tell you is that these recent attacks were that strong, that disturbing, and that unusual. And unlike regular panic attacks, even after I came down I was plagued by a sense of vertigo, disconnection, racing head, teeny audio disturbances, and the fun kind of stomach issues that withdrawal will give you. And the SWEATING! I can rival any menopausal co-worker with my hotflashes. These are not good times.
I have no idea if what he says is true. I did a quickie search on google, but didn't find anything directly laying out the 80/120% rule. However, if it IS true I'd like to offer a heartfelt Fuck You to the genetic drug industry.