its been 3 days 18 hours and 6 minutes since my last cigarette.
midterms are coming up this week and i have 3 assignments to finish before tomorrow morning. i got my textbooks a little late so I’m also behind on reading for pretty much all of my classes. HOWEVER, i will not let that stop me. I’ve gotten through 5bajillion years of school already, I’m not going to give up now when I’m SOOOO fucking close.
oh yeah, about that, i changed my concentration after a bunch of shit happened with required courses only offered once a year, blahblahblah.. long story short i changed my concentration to human development (even though I’m not interested in development at all) and unless something happens or i fuck up again, i will be graduating after winter quarter next year. one course over the summer, 4 in the fall, 3 in the winter, and then I’m done. finally.
then i just have to find a grad school that recognizes how awesome i am, and I’m on my way to getting my masters in social work and actually doing some good for the world. (and–hopefully–goodbyyyyyyye starbucks).
but anyway, im getting ahead of myself. back to not giving up etc etc.
trying to do these assignments and prepare for midterms is stressful. add to this my tendency to turn to cigarettes and other unhealthy behaviors to deal with stress, and my unstable mood and temperament from withdrawal, and you have a recipe for disaster. now i know that it is my fault I’m in this position. i put things off until the last minute, i make excuses for why I don’t want to do them right away, i waited too long to order my textbooks because i hadn’t budgeted my money well and had to either go to my parents for help or wait until my next check to be able to pay for them (either solution requiring at least a few days to a week’s time, as my parents were out of town). unfortunately when I’m in a place like this, that knowledge is very easy to manipulate into something self-destructive (more self-pity and blame than accountability)… something that quickly triggered a full-blown panic attack.
for those of you who have never experienced or witnessed a panic attack….
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) lists 13 criteria for diagnosing a panic attack:
A discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, in which four (or more) of the following symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within 10 min
1. Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
3. Trembling or shaking
4. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
5. Feeling of choking
6. Chest pain or discomfort
7. Nausea or abdominal distress
8. Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
9. Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being
detached from oneself)
10. Fear of losing control or going crazy
11. Fear of dying
12. Paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)
13. Chills or hot flushes
i find it interesting that a lot of those symptoms are also withdrawal symptoms for various substances. i wonder if anyone has ever looked into how that would impact recovery for people self-medicating panic attacks with that (those) substance(s).
the wording of the DSM is also pretty bland, and in my opinion does not accurately depict the intensity of a panic attack. its not all in your head. you don’t think you can’t breathe, you ACTUALLY can’t breathe. basically, for most people, you physically feel like you really are about to die, and no amount of rationalization or logic can tell you otherwise. the first time i had a panic attack in front of anyone, my doctor was out of town, so my mom called the person covering for her. at the time my mom didn’t understand what was going on, and she kind of figured it was mostly just my explosive emotion that we were all used to at that point, but when i could not stop she called anyway. the doctor explained that i was having a panic attack…. which we later found out was triggered by abilify, which was one of the meds i didn’t want to take, but had to take anyway, because i was an unstable minor and couldn’t make safe decisions for myself. my mom took that as being a more intense/explosive version of my anxiety…until the doctor asked her if she had ever experienced or witnessed anyone else have a panic attack before. she had not. “Oh! Well, she feels like she’s dying. Like she’s suffocating and having a heart attack at the same time.” *note: this was YEARS ago, and this is probably not an exact quote but that was the gist of what she was saying* to this day neither of us has heard a more accurate description of how i and many others experience panic attacks. i really think I’m dying, that this is gonna be the last one because I’m not gonna make it through.
but anyway, back to the present.
made it through my panic attack, but i was still uneasy about 2 hours later. its been a long time since i haven’t immediately treated a panic attack with one of my own remedies, usually a cigarette…or a few cigarettes. so sitting here in my own skin postfreak-out was not going over too well. thats when i realized that i abandoned almost all of the “coping skills” i learned in all my hospital stays and my 9.5 months at the europe (thats what we called the treatment center where i spent my senior year of high school, La Europa Academy). so I’ve decided to take a break from my papers and reacquaint myself with the skills that i spent all that time learning. the only problem is, I don’t remember a lot of em. so I’m sticking to the basics: writing, music, yoga, etc. i just finished an hour yoga video that is supposed to help deal with stress….i guess it helped a little, not as much as a cigarette, but I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy, cut and dry task.
we’ll see how the rest of the day goes. time to go finish these papers and catch up on as much of the reading as i can.
also, sorry this jumps around so much, I’m having a lot of trouble staying focused right now.