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Dear Insecurity: Lyrics to my Life as a Jealous and Controlling Girlfriend, and the Subsequent Panic Attacks

Charlotte likes pretty things, and she loves the beach, sushi, coffee and seashells.

I Had a Panic Attack

I just had a panic attack.

Something triggered it, yes. I’ll tell you what it is, but first, I’ll tell you how I felt.

I felt dizzy. I shivered. My fingertips felt cold, like they were full of shifting sand. My throat felt like it had a knot in it. My chest felt suddenly heavy. My heart raced. I became fearful, dreadfully fearful. I was sitting at my desk at work, watching Boondock Saints when I received a message from my boyfriend. The message, unexpectedly triggered a panic attack that I was not ready for. I even though about leaving work. I looked at my physician’s website to make an appointment, then my heart dropped when I realized that I had a $200 unmet deductible that I can’t meet at this very second because Christmas is around the corner and I need the extra cash. I also need to deal with this anxiety and panic attack episodes, however, as it feels debilitating. As soon as the panic attack happened, I went to the bathroom to try to breathe deeply. Seems strange – breathing heavily in a bathroom is probably the last place you want to do any heavy breathing. I didn’t want my co-workers to see that I became immediately pale and ill-looking, so I stayed there until the worst of it passed. When it passed, I googled Panic Attacks and read that they last about ten minutes. I already knew that, but my mind was in a panicked state. When I tell you what triggered my panic attack, you will laugh and think I overreacted. Maybe I did, but I couldn’t control, at the time, how my body reacted.

Panic Attacks and Insecurity

I’ll share with you a bit of back story, if you don’t mind. My boyfriend is a teacher. Is one of six male teachers in a school with almost 40 teachers. One of these teachers, we will call her Kathy, wanted him earlier this year before we met. She wanted to be with him, physically. He found her attractive, and he wanted to be with her, too. They would constantly make inappropriate jokes at work. She would joke about his ‘plantain’ in his pants. He would joke-flirt back. After we started dating, he went to a Father’s Day event and during that party, she sent him X-rated pictures of herself to ease his boredom. He deleted them, but didn’t really confront them. At work, they had a birthday party for Kathy, and he went and ate some of the food served there, essentially, participating in her birthday celebration even though I asked him to please stay away from him. Well, tomorrow the six men are hosting a Mother’s Day celebration for all the teachers, and most of them are mothers. It’s an event that starting from 10 AM to 6 PM, but there’s no set end time. There will be alcohol. There will be comedians. There will be food. There will be music and dancing. And my boyfriend is hosting it, mostly, with the three men who are planning this event. Kathy will be there. I feel nervous. I feel intimidated. I feel insecure. I feel that she may try to flirt with him again. I feel that she will attempt to send him pictures again. I feel afraid of the mix of men and women and alcohol and my boyfriend. Yesterday, him and the group of friends bought gifts for all the mothers and today they are buying the meat for the event. Today, my boyfriend sent me a text, a text that triggered my panic attack. Please note – I was already in a state of anxiety for the past three days since I found out about tomorrow’s event. Before he sent the text, he said this: “It’s not good, but it’s funny.” This made me nervous. The text was a fifty-nine second clip of some strip club advertisement that featured women with large rear ends. (He is a fan of large rear ends). I was waiting for some kind of comedic turn or punchline with the video, but it was just some strip club advertising its services. It wasn’t funny. I responded with ‘Oh”. He didn’t respond, even though he remained online. As soon as I replied and noticed he didn’t say anything, but remained online, I experienced my panic attack.

Examining My Panic Attacks, Trust Issues, and Possible Solutions

I tried to find out what’s ‘wrong with me’. Why did I react this way? Why did my body respond this way. As I write this, I haven’t texted him yet because I feel nervous that I’ll say something wrong, or I’ll betray that I am nervous about tomorrow. I don’t think I’ll go to work tomorrow. I think I won’t be okay, thinking of him at the party dancing with all those females, drinking with them, laughing with them, and wondering if Kathy is sending him pictures again. Friends tell me to just ‘trust’. I find myself asking: What is Trust? How do you trust? I tried taking an anti-anxiety medication in the recent past. It didn’t help. I tried taking an anti-depressant. It didn’t help. I looked into cognitive behavioral therapy, but it was $160 per session, and I need many sessions. I’m currently looking into hypnotherapy. I feel a little skeptical, but I want to go into it open-minded. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Update - Fishing and Relaxation after a Panic Attack

The event happened. I knew I was going to experience another panic attack at work, as my thoughts started to form and rotate over my head like the beginning of a hurricane. I decided to skip work and drive two and a half hours to the beach and do what I love - fishing. I left the city as soon as my boyfriend left for his event. I listened to music, enjoyed the process of driving and sang out loud and took in the beautiful nature around me. While fishing, I focused on the calmness of the waves, the textured effect of the ripple pattern as the water moved around, and I even made a new friend who fished on the same side of the pier as I did. I loved how the ocean changed colors as the sun faded in and out. I felt peaceful. Thoughts of my boyfriend tried to surface, but the biting cold and the greenness of the sea calmed my thoughts. I drove back, and the evening went well. My boyfriend and I shared experiences from our day. I 'did' go to Instagram to see if anyone posted pictures of the event. I noticed that Kathy did enter the pool at the event, and she had on a red, too-revealing bikini, so of course, that made me wonder - is he still attracted to her? But either way, after the panic attack, I was able to avoid it by avoiding work and going fishing, and then having a clear head to talk to my boyfriend without completely falling to pieces.

© 2018 Charlotte Doyle