“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”–Charles Spurgeon
I’ve had a long battle with my adrenal glands and how they affect my life. It’s a struggle that constantly calls in to question my ability to function as a normal human being. I’m not the only person for whom this is a problem. However, that is a small consolation for a guy who wants to be a good husband and father. This time my adrenal glands decided that a parent/teacher conference would be a great opportunity to show me the breadth of their capabilities. “Hey if ever you wonder if we have what it takes to help you perform in the face of a bear attack, don’t give it a second thought…this is what we have to offer.” It is comforting to know that my body is well equipped to handle a situation in which my life hangs in the balance, but all of that adrenaline is completely useless sitting in a child’s sized chair in a pre-school room. But, alas, I’ve no control over when or how this will all take place. And that simple fact makes me feel small.
The internets say that: “Panic Attacks” or “Panic Disorder” are bouts of anxiety that peak quickly and subside over the next few hours (I’d quote that and attribute it but really who has the energy, right?). Jay Mohr, a comedian/actor who has long struggled with the disorder describes it as: life saving amounts of adrenaline injected into one’s blood stream for no discernible reason (I’d quote that if it weren’t for the fact that it is a poor paraphrase). For me: it is like having a heart attack that robs me of any chance of living in the moment (I’d quote that, but I’m no douche bag…actually that’s not entirely true). But all of that has little to do with my reality and, by-proxy, the reality of my little girl who only wanted to show my wife, and youngest daughter, and I around her pre-school. Sooo demanding, right? Seriously, what is her problem!?
I was around thirty-four (34) when I first had a run in with my adrenal glands…it was a bit like the dance scene in Michael Jackson’s Beat It video. I was driving a truck down the road at the time, and though there was neither sand nor gravel in it, it was still eight (8) axels long and twelve (12) tons of steel, aluminum, and fiber-glass, not what you want to be driving when your adrenal glands come at you like one of the peripheral characters on television’s Jersey Shore. I had recently been awarded the honor of fatherhood by the great common-wealth of China (or is it a Republic? Who can remember?) (to the poor, they’re all the same). Anyhow, the medics who came to attend to my “heart attack” informed me that the stress of my new-found fatherhood had probably caused this infarction. Phew, that was good to know…problem…reason…simplified reality…time to move on. The problem with this half-assed assessment became apparent when the same thing happened later with no perceptible provocation…like a main character on television’s Jersey Shore. Since then I’ve had around a dozen of them, one lasted around two solid hours, after which, I tasted adrenaline for the whole next day and into the following. It tastes like blood.
There are many educated opinions about the proper treatment of this disorder. I’ve read a good many of them. Beyond that, I have heard many more uneducated opinions about what I should be doing to treat this problem. I’ve yet to decide what to do. Mainly, I just wait for it to go away magically. None of the material I’ve read, nor have the opinions I’ve heard described this method as being effective. But that fact has done little to change my choice of management plans. I don’t want to be afflicted by anxiety, I want to be laid back and unflappable like I was when I was a kid. I want to return to my “punk-rock” “who gives two shits” attitude. This, however, is nothing more than vanity. As I grow older, I’m realizing that I need to let that part of my life go. This decision is not only becoming apparent in my heart, but it is becoming inevitable because of the way my body is reacting with the chemicals that it produces.
My fears of seeking treatment stems from the idea that any ground I give allows this malady to define who I am…even if it is a small part of my reality. Lately I’ve become increasingly aware of the fact that if I don’t seek out treatment for it, it will define the lives of my family.