“Gosh aren’t you getting tall?”

Yesterday was my daughters seventh birthday party and although I knew I was stressed trying to arrange it along with working full time and writing university assignments nothing prepared me for the reaction that this party provoked in me yesterday.

I was seven when my life changed forever, when my childhood was interrupted. I consider myself to be quite well adjusted and a generally happy woman with a life I am very much content in. Occasionally something comes along and catches me off guard, it creeps up and bites me on the backside that’s what happened yesterday.

As guests began to arrive at her party they kept commenting to my little girl how grown up she looked which of course she revelled in. Those words made bile rise in my throat, each time it was said I imagined her becoming more and more vulnerable to paedophiles.

Now I know my daughter has a very different life to the one I had as a child and that probably as a result of my experiences I am extra cautious with her safety but the comparison was there, in my face and raw yesterday.

I enjoyed the party itself, it was possibly the best party she has had but as soon as it was over and we cleared away I felt a wave of anxiety wash over me, a tidal wave. This was a force of anxiety of which I have not experienced for several years, it was all encompassing, with my heart feeling as though it were ready to burst, my head feeling short of oxygen and my legs feeling like they would fold like Bambi.

I tried to manage this with CBT based thought processes, it still did not settle. I tried grounding myself in the moment by making myself conscious of my senses and still it did not settle. Eventually I resorted to medication which is always a last choice. I eventually slept for an hour or so but when I awoke I felt those same terrified feelings in my stomach and chest.

When days like yesterday sneak up and grab me I have to rationalise that it is a bad day and not a relapse. A bad day, no matter how bad, is normal. It reminded me that I need to manage my stress levels carefully as I think the crippling anxiety I felt yesterday was the result of a combination of the association with her age evoking memories of my early life and of allowing myself to spend too many days too busy and over stressed to sort the party and Christmas.

When I woke up today I was relieved to realise I felt ‘normal’ (whatever that is!) and that crippling anxiety had evaporated as quickly as it descended. My sensible head knows that simply having a birthday and turning seven will not make my child any more of a target for paedophiles, my heart however takes umbrage with that and mama bear wants to protect her cub…

One thought on ““Gosh aren’t you getting tall?”

  1. Just to let you know in case you don’t, your anxiety/panic physical symptoms are caused by adrenaline release in response to activation of an overly sensitive fight/flight centre in the brain, triggered by the issues attached to your daughter “growing up”‘. That much you undoubtedly know already. What’s rarely known, is that the entire process of fight/flight centre activation is driven forward by the drop in blood Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels caused by hyperventilation.

    Hyperventilation occurs more subtly than people imagine and is usually missed. It’s not like the hyperventilation of the hysterical rock-star groupie. Rather, it can manifest as frequent sighing ( one sigh = five normal breaths) or as shallow, more frequent breaths. As CO2 levels fall, blood pH rises, triggering the fight/flight centre to release adrenaline as it prepares the body for action. Muscles become saturated with Oxygen, ready to fight or flee.
    If no fight or flight occurs and anxiety fails to terminate the process, people usually become light headed, dizzy, get tingly lips, fingers and toes, feel wonky on their feet, feel empty in the chest and can even get muscle spasms in their arms and hands as blood calcium levels begin to go astray.

    Luckily, the entire process can be reversed very easily without popping a Benzo and waiting 30mins for it to work. The technique is “bag rebreathing” but not the old-fashioned brown paper bag which got wet and fell apart before symptoms abated. I recommend to my patients that they obtain Vaporiser bags from a shop or online ( http://www.ebay.com/bhp/volcano-vaporizer-bags ). You only need one roll for a lifetime! You’ll also see that you can buy a valve for these bags that prevents leakage and gives you a mouthpiece to grip onto with your teeth/lips. Breathing at any rate and depth you wish all achieve the goal of normalising CO2 and literally switching off all the troubling physical anxiety symptoms within 5 minutes or so. Rebreathe until you run low on oxygen and then let some fresh air in via your nose or mouth and keep rebreathing. After a few minutes, take a 5-10minute break, observe the improvement develop and then repeat if necessary. Very few people need to repeat more than 1-2 times. You will reverse all the gas abnormalities, the pH of the blood will return to normal and you will feel normal!!!!

    Take a bag in the car and in your bag so that if needed, you can rebreathe in the car or restroom anywhere you get an anxiety attack. This intervention has been known for decades but the use of tough, large plastic bags and valves has greatly modernised the process and made it rapidly effective, easy and not at all messy or slobbery. You can use this anytime you get tight in the chest or you get that hot, racy heart feeling of anxiety and it’ll work like a charm life-long.

    I hope this simple, scientifically proven method, improves your sense of mastery of your pesky, sensitive fight/flight centre.

    Kind Regards, Jerry Gelb (psychiatrist)

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