Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I'm A Big Chicken

"There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them."

-Andre Gide

Like the title of this entry says, I am a big chicken. My first instinct in all situations that initially frighten me, is to run as fast as I can in the opposite direction, so you can imagine what a funfest I was to live with when I was having as many as 5 panic attacks a day. Now actually, that was a rarity, but it did happen. Then one day I took a wonderful class called M.A.P. (Managing Panic and Anxiety). It was a 13 week course, and by the time I had completed it, I had cured myself of panic attacks, but it was work. Hard work! I took that class in 1995, and since that time I have only had 3 anxiety attacks, one of which happened yesterday. When I took the class it was impressed upon us that there was no way to eliminate anxiety completely, so the possibility that I could have a panic attack at some point in the future was almost certain, but the class taught me some strong emotional coping skills, that has never failed to see me through an attack. Everything comes down to retraining the inner tapes we all play in any given situation, even the ones we play when we are in full panic mode for no apparent reason.

As my heart began to pound, and my hands and feet went numb, I gave careful attention to my breathing. Remembering to stop and center myself, I began to focus on the chair that was holding me up. I took two long, deep breaths, and began to become aware of the sounds in my immediate environment. The wind in the trees, the new set of butterfly wind chimes I bought the other day, a siren up the road, the theme song to One Life To Live, playing on the TV in the next room. I let myself become aware very slowly of everything that affected my five senses, because I was taught that what triggers a panic attack is usually my senses picking up on a moment of stress or anxiety that has been stored away by my subconscious. The original fear doesn't have to be present, to make it's presence known.

So what was scaring me? Well, later today I have my class in diabetes basics. It is a one time class, that will teach me about what comes next in my management of the disease. I will admit that while I am looking forward to learning more about what's happening to my body, taking the class is scary. Scary because it makes it all real. Really real. I am still a little shaky about being diagnosed diabetic. The truth is, I could do everything I am told, right by the instructions, and still not be able to control my diabetes. Sigh. What if I fail? What if I do my best... and fail? In the end, all I can do is my best. Educate myself, talk about it here, ask my peers for advice, ask my doctor for advice, and do what I must. Millions manage living with diabetes everyday. Right?

You have to remember however, I am the girl who hates change. It's just that when things change, they usually do so without your permission. People move away and leave your life, and all you can do is wish them well and wave goodbye. Right? So what do you do with the pain that is left after they have gone? Ignore it? Wish it away? No, you pretty much have to face it, give it it's due and mourn it. Then you can move on. As we grow older, our bodies change, and finding ourselves in surreal situations like getting diabetes, suddenly becomes a real fact of life, with or without our permission. And again, you have to face it, give it it's due, and deal with what comes next. Sometimes I think, more then being a big chicken, I am mostly a control freak. I don't want to have diabetes. But who does? So, now what? Well, I would say it's time to COWBOY UP!

I am trying my best, and to my own credit I am succeeding slowly. I can give myself some credit for jumping into this new lifestyle and allowing myself to heal through learning and occasionally I have a good cry about things. It's a very mind clearing thing to have a good solid cry. You know, like how clear everything seems after a summer rain shower. OK, I might always feel the initial panic and urge to run in the other direction, but after I recognize the fear for what it is, I dig in and get down to work. It's a sink or swim world, and at one point I was drowning. Once you face not killing yourself, you always know that you will be able to find your way back to the surface... no matter how dark and deep the water gets.

So, I have my Diabetes Basics class today, and tomorrow I learn how to use my OneTouch Ultra meter for the first time. Please throw me a life preserver, wish me luck, and a little courage, OK?


"Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."

-Ambrose Redmond

"Big Chicken"
Berkeley, California
December, 2006
Late Evening


MyMaracas said...

Ah, my dear. All this can be overwhelming at first, I know. And if your class is anything like mine was, it will be scary. They try hard to get your attention, to make you take the disease seriously, and sometimes they overdo it a bit.

You're doing all the right things and, with continued care, there's every reason to believe you'll be just fine.

Sending lots of good thoughts your way today.

PS - sorry if this is a duplicate comment. Tried it once and I don't think it saved.

DesLily said...

Of course I wish you luck.. and boy do i understand not likeing change!! Thankfully, it doesn't take very long to make the "not norm" become your "norm".

we all go thru fear, anxioty, resentment etc for these changes (I did the same w/ my high cholestrol..what i now can have and can't have etc).. I think part of it is feeling we are being forced into a new way of life.. instead doctors should approach us differently.. simply say, things like "here are some things you can do to feel better".. we all want to do things to make ourselves feel better and so the changes can become something we want to do rather than forced to do.. make any sense?

Nancy said...

How very well expressed, Carly. (I found the technique for panic attacks especially thanks)

This is a hard NEW concept to grasp...the diabetes. Be kind with yourself.