I've never had panic attacks before, not really, even when news was coming out in the summer of 2001 about my husband having a serious mental and committing crimes at work.
But I've had several mornings, afternoons, or entire days these past few weeks of my arms shaking and feeling shortness of breath, of just generally feeling that some semblance of life as I have known it was coming to an end, and a big wide unknown was gaping before.
Panic attacks--mine at least--are truly physical phenomenon. I can't say I was having racing thoughts. No, it just seem like my body was being overtaken by something outside myself, that worked its way inside.
The attacks started in the weeks before I gave up my job as editor of Walnut Creek Patch. I officially left that job this past Wednesday. Several factors went into this decision to give up a site I launch and put my heart and soul into. It was hard to give it up but at the same time, I came to the conclusion that it was the right and sane thing to do. I do not all regret my time editing Walnut Creek Patch. I do not regret leaving. I had taken the site as far as I felt I could go.
Time for a change. Life must move on.
But rather than do what some might see as the sensible thin--get a job first and then leave--I just decided to leave and give up my future and my family's future to --I don't know--fate? Some higher power?
Yesterday, I woke up at 4 a.m. in a state. Heart pounding. Terrified about the future and one particular job I'm going for. My husband tried to distract me with a visit to San Francisco MOMA's exhibition, The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde,. That is, masterworks of Picasso, Matisse, Renoir and other artists collected by Gertrude Stein and her brothers during their time in Paris. I had to remind myself to breath as we wandered from gallery to gallery, reading about Gertrude Stein's legendary soirees on the Rue de Fleurus in Paris and thrilling at the breathtaking colors of the Matisse paintings. I did allow myself the thought that Woody Allen well timed the release of his 1920s in Paris time-travel movie, Midnight in Paris, to coincide with this exhibit.
As we left the museum and crossed Yerba Buena Center Gardens, I broke down crying. Grief? Fear? Fear that I was in a state of fear?
The unknown. As life has turned out, I get to be the breadwinner because my husband's illness limits his ability to work, if at all. I have to say, I like him not working but just volunteering. He helps out at Fresh Start, the homeless respite center. His mood has been better, and his symptoms have lessened, in the eight months he has been working.
I'm afraid to admit that I'm one of those women who would have liked to rely on the man to bring in the big bucks while I dabbled in my passion for journalism, writing. Yes, of course, journalism is not the most lucrative profession. You certainly can't support a family in the Bay Area on it. So, I have to move forward, thinking how I'll take care of myself and my family, a role I'm still getting used to. I just have to look to some role models: my single gal friends who are doing it on their own.
Indulge me for a minute but I can't help but think of "The Second Coming" by WB Yeats: Turning and turning in the widening gyre/The Falcon cannot hear the falconer;/Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold.
I think I'm the falcon?
Well, one thing about leaving the Patch job is that, I hope, to have the time and mental energy to devote again to Crazy in Suburbia--whether or not anyone is still reading. As always, this work will continue to be a work in progress. I'm still a bit crazy, of course. Those panic attacks seem to be good evidence of that fact.