Living Life in a Fish Bowl!

Gloria’s take on life.

when your body doesn’t listen

There are just some things in life I don’t need to experience personally to know it is not a good thing.  An anxiety attack is one of those things.

Irrational fear that grips a person, heart rate speeds up or is sporadic, dizziness, light headed, violent shaking and an all over clammy feeling  – no I didn’t have to experience that to know that I would not like it. 

A few years back, however, I was “privileged” to see what it was like first hand.  My experience had to do with breathing –  a change in air quality.  It was horrible!!

For awhile a change in air pressure was sure to kick off another attack.  All the stern talking that I gave myself didn’t seem to matter.  My body would just not listen.  If my body thought that it was in jeopardy of breathing or trapped, it took over.

I did learn ways to combat this.  Immediate prayer being the first thing.  Getting outside was also helpful.  Forcing my focus onto something else also worked.  Eventually just taking a deep breath was all it took. 

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve had a full blown episode.  In fact, I thought I was all over that now.  A season in my life that was over.   Oh what a relief!

This Thanksgiving we were at my sister-in-laws.  There were 15 of us.  Right before lunch I went to the restroom.  Upon locking the door I realized that something wasn’t quite right.  I found myself unable to unlock the door. 

Now this really shouldn’t have been a big deal.  There were 14 other people right outside the door.  The body is an amazing thing.  If it senses danger it goes on full alert.  It really didn’t matter that there was no ‘danger’. 

I began pounding on the door.  Curt heard me and I knew that he would rescue me.  I heard them at the door and figured all was well.

Meanwhile, I went in there for a reason.  All the adrenaline was not helping.  I finished the task at hand, washed my hands, took a few deep breaths to calm the few remaining anxiety nerves and reached for the door handle.  It was still locked!!   

At this point all rational reasoning went out the window.   I am sure that it was only moments – that is what Curt tells me.  However, it seemed like an eternity.   

I had a few choice comments for Curt.  I couldn’t believe that he had not made sure that the door was unlocked after the first cry for help.  In his defense, he saw the door open a bit and did not realize that  it locked again when it was closed.

 Upon my freedom I promptly went outside.  Wide open spaces were a welcome relief.  It was all I could do to go back inside. 

So what it is that causes the body to respond in such a way?  It makes no sense at all to me.   I spent much of the meal trying to get my body to calm back down.  I can’t really explain what it felt like, but it took all my focus to sit there.

As I reflect back on that day I am filled with questions.  Questions that have no answers. 

I only know that this experience is one I hope to never repeat.

Just a glimpse into what my fishbowl was like on Thanksgiving.   There is always next year.

til next time


December 1, 2009 - Posted by | just thinking about stuff, living in a fish bowl | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Wow, I hope Christmas is better for you. Sandy

    Comment by sandysays1 | December 1, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks Sandy. The rest of the weekend was better. It did make me appreciate and be thankful for simple things like breathing and wide open space. 🙂

    Comment by Gloria | December 1, 2009 | Reply

  3. and door locks that don’t get stuck?

    Comment by Pastor Curt | December 2, 2009 | Reply

  4. yes Curt even for door locks that don’t get stuck 🙂 the little things we take for granted.

    Comment by Gloria | December 2, 2009 | Reply

  5. Whoa. Maybe from now on you should just leave the door open when you go to the bathroom… 🙂

    Comment by Cherie Bell | December 3, 2009 | Reply

  6. Do ya got any friends in a therapeutic profession by chance that you could describe the incident to? It almost sounds to me like something I seem to remember being mentioned in my psych class in college once, something like physio-psychological transferal climax or some big longworded blah blah term like that (assuming I’m remembering that accurately from my class and it’s not something I only dreamt being lectured on during one of the times I fell asleep doing homework and dreamt I was still working on it).

    If I’m remembering it right it is something akin to what anxiety attacks are and might be associated with as a precurser to certain potential break downs. (Hence the concern and question and I don’t want to alarm or anything if it WAS something I just dreamt up. I would certainly hope a professional would actually KNOW.) I know you’ve been under a bit of additional stress lately but I’m also sure I haven’t seen you at your worst to be able to have any idea of the extent of it.

    It’s brought on by a sustained increase in stressors that are constantly being suppressed over time that, for whatever reason, kick in the whatever it is that controls the same fight or flight physical response when a person feels threatened and then doesn’t quite fully enough kick it off again or something like that.

    It had something to do with a coping issue. Something is out of whack so that the body isn’t coping or adapting like it’s supposed to or otherwise would until you reach a “straw that breaks the camel’s back” kind of moment. It might be something as small as a pet peave (like somebody not changing the toilet paper roll when its empty) but to the body (which has been feeling like it’s been in a constant battle since the fight or flight thing has kept going) the emotional response that is triggered by it gets blown into something that might as well have been as big as somebody trying to slice off a piece of your body or something.

    Needless to say, the response ends up much stronger than expected and most likely out of proportion to the apparent cause. I’m sure there’s more to it than that, but I also seem to remember it’s something that is supposed to be treatable. (I don’t know if that’s as in “talking it out and breathing exercises” treatable or medicine or vitamin or surgery kind of treatable.)

    Anyway, that just sounds like a rotten feeling to have gone through (kinda reminds me of how I feel when I go across bridges) and a little abnormal and it just happened to bring that mouthful of a term thing to mind so I thought I’d mention it.

    Comment by LisaB | December 4, 2009 | Reply

  7. Cherie that is pretty much what I’ve decided except that I will try the handle and shut the door — no locking 🙂

    Lisa certainly my stress level has been at an all time high and maybe there is more than meets the eye. I think the bridge thing is a good comparison. For now I will stay away from locked bathroom doors. Not sure what I will do at gas stations.

    Comment by Gloria | December 4, 2009 | Reply

    • If you have my kind of luck with gas stations you might not have to worry about it. Even when you think you got it locked it very well may not be. *cringe*

      Comment by LisaB | December 6, 2009 | Reply

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