Good Girl had her first panic attack last night.
Since I deleted my archives, I must give a little backstory. Those of you who are long-time readers know I have panic disorder and anxiety problems. I am also emetophobic. Emetophobia is the fear of vomiting. My grandfather had it (near as I can piece together), so I think this is where it comes from. The panic and anxiety was handed down from my mom’s side, so I got a double-dose of crazy. (Lucky me.) Panic and phobias are ridiculous, but real. They’re like a nut allergy, irrational and completely counter-productive, but the chemical rush is true and tangible and not “all in your head.”
The good news is at this point in my life I am very high-functioning. I can deal with puke, so long as it is not contagious (and even then, I can do what I have to for my kids.) I can have a panic attack without anyone ever knowing. And, more importantly, they aren’t a regular occurrence in my life anymore.
So, as I was saying, last night the Wolfman threw up a little in his pack n’ play. I knew it was just that he’d had too much to eat at dinnertime and probably had some gas to boot. I had no problem cleaning him off and gathering the linens, but the smell. The smell was rough. So rough, in fact, that the Viking started lighting candles and saying things like, “Whoo-eee, buddy.” When something is foul enough to offend the Viking, it’s bad.
Good Girl came in and squealed “Eeeeew! What happened?” So I told her that her brother puked and she began peppering me with questions about it. The same kind of questions I used to pepper other people with when someone in class threw up or my little brother barfed. Then, she said that thinking about it made her stomach hurt and she started rehashing her horrible experience with norovirus last year. She and her father were severely ill together, lying in bed with a bucket on both ends because it was one of those throw-up every 20 minutes for 8 hours kind of bug. It scarred her psychologically; she has been afraid of vomiting ever since.
We sent the girls to bed shortly after the spitup incident and, on the way, Good Girl vurped. The acid burned her throat, but she still got into bed. The Viking and I had just gotten comfortable and popped on Farscape when we heard crying upstairs. Good girl said she felt really sick and really scared. She was shaking like a leaf. I took one look at her and realized it was adrenaline letdown. I scooped her up and rubbed her back and explained that she was just fine but this is what happens when you get too worked up about something. We gave her some water and watched an episode of Fanboy & Chum Chum. I told her how to breathe and calm herself down. She recovered and is 100% fine today.
But I haven’t recovered. I wouldn’t wish panic disorder or emetophobia on my enemy and here my sweet little seven-year-old daughter, of course the most sensitive child I have, is showing signs of following my path. It is my worst fear – worse than dying – that my children might have to endure the hell that I have lived. True, this disorder has ultimately made me tough as nails (most of the time) and kept me out of a lot of trouble during my teenage years, but it’s toll of stress and pain and self-loathing has probably stripped a year or three off of my life.
All I can do is hope this was a one off, and if it isn’t, I guess it is a good thing that I can be open and helpful about it right away.