Panic About Panic

Sometimes a panic attack isn’t so much about encountering the thing you fear but rather the fear of not being able to control your response should that happen.

There was a show at a Wrigleyville bar on Saturday and I really wanted to go. I had a lot of time to plan for it but it was sort of a logistical challenge with times, train schedules, Lollapalooza traffic, etc.

As we got closer to the event, my brain started thinking about the opportunities for things to go wrong, for things to throw me, things to make me panic.  Eventually, the panic began, panic because I was sure I was going to be confronted with something for which I wasn’t prepared. I don’t respond well in situations like that. I freeze. I shutdown. I park and hyperventilate and then I turn around and go home and feel like shit because I wasn’t able to do what I set out to do.

Here is a list:

What if traffic is bad?
What if there is construction or a detour?
What if the GPS tells me the wrong info?
What if I can’t find the parking lot?
What if the parking lot is closed or full?
What if I can’t find another parking lot?
What if I get lost looking for another parking lot?
What if I mess up the bus numbers?
What if we can’t find a cab?
Do I really want to take an Uber and get in to a car with a stranger?
What if we can’t find the venue?
What if the venue is really crowded and we can’t get a seat?
What if people are loud and talk over the music?
What if people are drunk and rude?
What happens if we miss the train?
What happens if we can’t get back to the car?
What happens if I can’t find my way back to the highway?
What if traffic is bad?
What if there is construction or a detour?

It was overwhelming. It was horrible. My brain, once started, can’t be stopped. I tried relaxation, more planning, anything, but the anxiety still rises.

The solution, of course, was to avoid the situation entirely so we just stayed home. By staying home I wasn’t subject to any of those potential outcomes. Panic averted.

I also missed a really great show and the chance to meet some great people.

I’m not ok with that.

Photo via CC 2.0

“This is the perfect time to panic!” – Woody 

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