Panic In The Sky!

RA Guy Adventures of RA Guy 6 Comments

PanicRheumatoid Arthritis Guy recently set out to gather information about the Superman comic book “Panic in the Sky”. (This time I decided not to venture into the comic book forums, and instead limited my sources to Amazon. Miss Waxie, I finally learned my lesson!)

Here is a little bit of what I found:

“Don’t confuse 1992’s Superman: Panic in the Sky! with the Adventures of Superman television episode starring George Reeves, in which Superman stops an asteroid on a collision course with Earth. The epic Panic in the Sky story arc, chronicled in eight parts, was a crossover event which was published in the four Superman titles…”

And “Panic in the Sky covers Maxima’s conversion to good guy status and also paves the way for Superman and Maxima joining the new Justice League, in the post-Giffen/DeMatteis era.”

Are you panicking yet?

Seriously though, I was thinking about panic because during the last couple of weeks I had quite a few panic attacks. As anyone who has had a panic attack before can tell you, they can be very scary and unpleasant events. (Having them in the midst of a rheumatoid arthritis flare is even worse.)

I have noticed that when my panic attacks come, they usually spawn like a weird alien – increasing out of seemingly nowhere both in terms of their frequency and severity. Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy is proud to announce that once again, he has beaten the Panic Attack Monster.

But, I must note – that this is a battle that I have fought many times before. It usually coincides with my rheumatoid arthritis crisis moments. During this period of healing and recovery that I am recently entering, I plan to dedicate a part of each day to learning new methods that will help prevent a recurrence of these panic attacks.

A few years ago, soon after I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, I was in the midst of a major flare. One though continued to pop up again and again in my head – If I could only transplant my head onto another body, everything will be okay. I used to think it was absoutely silly for me, a grown man, to be thinking such a thought. Then I begin to hear from other individuals living with chronic pain that they too often thought the same things.

Upon accepting that I could not undergo a head transplant (hey, at least it sparked a period of science fiction reading that was fun!), I slowly began to come to terms with the concept that this way my body, for better or for worse. (If only I had signed a prenup before I was born…)

Initially, when I would reaffirm this idea to myself – the panic attack would start. An overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia would overtake me, and the only thought on my mind was I have to get out of my body, now!

Through the years I have gotten much better at accepting the chronic nature of my illness. Along with this acceptance went the realization, once again, that this was my body and I could not escape it or exchange it for another one. Being able to tell this to myself without provoking a panic attack was a hugh achievement.

Still, during the darkest moments of my most severe flares, thoughts of wanting to escape my body continue to appear, along with the panic attacks. Windows are opened to allow fresh air into the room. I lay down on the bed and try to concentrate on deep breathing. I surround myself with music and art books that can be use to create a distraction during these moments of heightened anxiety. Though frightening, these panic attacks eventually pass. And with each new panic attack, I get just a little better at coming out of them more quickly, until eventually they subside.

Right now I want to tell myself that these panic attacks will never return. But I will settle with the comfort in the knowledge that if they do return, I will get through them, like I have already done many times in the past.

If you too have faced panic attacks and have your own tricks and methods that help you cope with them, please do share!

Stay tuned…for the next adventure of Rheumatoid Arthritis Guy!

Comments 6

  1. JG

    Panic attacks are one of the most annoying symptoms of Lyme. I’ve had panic attacks since I was thirteen. Back when I would get them before I had to go to school, the doctors didn’t know what was wrong with me, because it was 1993 and not much was known about panic attacks. It’s become the story of my life, I’ll tell you, to have doctors not know what’s wrong with me. Feeling like I had to “get out” of my body is definitely how it was. So being younger and more energetic I would walk or run, even in the middle of the night, until I had no more energy to panic. Nowadays anything can set it off, so I just pop a Xanax and distract myself with TV or a book until the medication has time to take effect. Is it laziness or just better medical access? Lost my train of thought…

  2. kertslittlebird

    I read your post today and was relieved. I am not alone. I am not crazy. Like you, I too, would open the windows and listen to music trying to calm myself down. Something as minor as the refrigerator kicking on or a text message alert would set me off. I ended up in the ER one afternoon thinking I was having a heart attack. The doctors were very understanding. I was of course really embarassed. I just knew they were going to send me to a padded room, but instead I was given yet another pill. Has anyone noticed that when you have autoimmune conditions, people and doctors treat you differently?

  3. Rebecca

    You’ve probably already heard this, but just in case you haven’t, it works well for me. Breathe in through your nose and slowly blow it out through your mouth, kind of like Lamaze breathing. While doing that, slowly count to ten. If your mind wanders at all, start over again at 1. Focus only on breathing and counting. By the time you finally reach 10, usually your breathing is back to normal and you’re a little calmer.

  4. Cathy

    I have to agree with Rebecca – the breathing works the best for me. Also, whenever I have a negative thought about my RA or lots of stress I use Rescue Remedy Have you read any Louise Hay? She is a little too “new age” for some but her daily affirmations really help when you are in a panic to remind yourself of something positive. She has many great books.

  5. Post
    RA Guy

    Thanks everyone, for your feedback!

    JG, it’s a good thing that people and doctors now understand and talk about anxiety/panic attacks, no? The “get out of your body” sensation can be quite overwhelming at times, I hope to continue to make progress on this issue.

    kertslittlebird, I was very touched by your comments. No we are not alone, and no we are not crazy – it’s just at times our coping mechanisms get overwhelmed by the struggle of living with chronic illness and chronic pain.

    Rebecca, thanks for the breathing exercise – I’m going to try it next time a panic attack resurfaces. My therapist also suggested breathing in/out of a paper bag, that the breathing and the rustling noise of the paper bag help as well.

    Cathy, you aren’t going to believe this but I completely forgot that I’m stocked up with Rescue Remedy. I have the spray, the drops, and the pastilles. Thanks for the reminder and I hope other readers benefit as well. I too believe in the power of positive affirmations, and use Louise Hay’s books and affirmation cards. I must admit they have been pushed aside during the past few months, but I am going to commit to bringing them back into my daily life. Thanks again!

    Last but not least: talking to someone, either in person or on the phone, also helped me a great deal in getting through some of my recent panic attacks.

  6. Kali

    My panic attacks are a result of an abusive relationship when I was in my teens.

    For me, they tend to manifest either as ‘everyone is going to hurt me’ or ‘oh my god, I’m going to die/someone is going to kill me’

    As my panic attacks related to other people, I tend to do better if I just lock myself in my bedroom alone and throw myself into a book, or do yoga style breathing while listening to some music I really enjoy. When they’re at their worst, all I can do is curl up in bed and wait for it to pass.


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