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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Petit Mal Panic

Last night I dreamed I was on a cruise ship in a storm and I almost spilled my drink (chocolate milk, I think, or iced tea. It's a little fuzzy). I was a bit confused since, in my dreams anyway, my life is normally represented by a house. Then I remembered PYP and its sea-themed offerings and it all made sense. I guess my brain needs to work out this new tack in my writing journey.

I suffer from petit mal panic. I don't know exactly when it started. Seems fairly recent, though, maybe a year? Maybe since 2008. Humorless chuckle.

It's a sudden and unreasonable sense of dread that starts in my stomach and spreads to my heart and lungs. The physical symptoms are clenched muscles, faster heartbeat and shorter breaths. It happens at any time, in any place, for no reason whatsoever. I can be in my house reading a book with a cat in my lap and it hits me. It's happened at work, at church, in the car, and at other people's homes. It seems to happen most when I'm alone, but that could be just because I'm alone most of the time.

I call it petit mal because it doesn't seem to be a full-blown panic attack as I've heard them described. Sometimes, it feels like an over-active conscience pricking me about some sin I've forgotten but which has the power to ruin my life. Other times, it feels like a premonition of some horrible future I cannot avoid. Maybe those are the same thing. Sometimes, it's just an upset stomach.
This may be a side-effect of growing up. Now that I'm noticing the real evil in the world, I am bound to be affected by it. It may be a learned response, an echo of some other time I had reason to fear popping up at unexpected times. A sort of Post-Traumic Stress Lite.

My solution thus far has been to stop and pray. Most times, my prayers are of repentance and praise. Repentance for doubting God and praise, well, because He's God. I don't know the future. I don't remember all my sins. I know God has me covered, and most of the time I remember it. The panic comes when I forget.

Oh, and when it's an upset stomach, I eat some peanuts.

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