Since my major meltdown in 1997, I haven’t gotten panic attacks. Or at least nothing compared to what other people write about. I’ve often wondered why, because I get depressed as much and as intensely, as other people.
On the other hand, I do tend to retreat into my house when I’m depressed and read trashy science fiction and not think of anything at all. Most people don’t seem to do that.
I’m wondering if there is a relationship between the two effects – panic attacks vs retreating and doing nothing.
I do know that when I am depressed and I try to force myself to do something, I get the following effects:
- First I get a feeling of not wanting to do whatever I am trying to do. It’s as if my mind says ‘Let’s get dressed to go out’ and then my mind immediately replies to itself – ‘No, I don’t want to do that’.
- If I continue to force myself to get dressed, I get distracted and do pretty random things, like pick up a book to read, or wander into the kitchen looking for food. Random things.
- If I really force myself to continue, I start triggering panic attack symptoms – the feeling as if a hand is clenched around my heart, an extreme desire to run away or hide from people, a feeling of terror.
I don’t get the panic attack symptoms anymore mostly because if I start feeling that way, I back off and stop doing whatever I was forcing myself to do.
There’s a good reason why I start backing off when panic attack symptoms start to show up. Once upon a time many years ago when I was a teacher, I tried to make it to school while depressed. I really didn’t want to leave the house, but I forced myself because it was my job. As I drove closer and closer to school, the feeling of “I don’t want to do this” and the associated terror got so bad that about two blocks from school, I turned around and fled. Course, I then crashed into another car at an intersection because I was in such terror that I couldn’t concentrate on the traffic. I just wanted to escape now!
Since then, I back off from those symptoms.
So. When I’m depressed, I don’t get panic attacks. But, I don’t do much either.