I have witnessed many anxiety and panic attacks in the 2 years I have been flying. I have held hands with a crying 6 foot 300 pound crying man, I have sung "somehwere over the rainbow" with a girl hyperventalating so much I thought she would pass out, but besides some edema from a sunburn, until this morning, I have never had a "real" medical emergency.
A man told me he felt faint. I got him a cold compress for his neck which helped. I asked him if he had any medical conditions, he said he had high blood pressure, I helped him get his medication and hoped he was just airsick. When he said he had to use the rest room I clicked into action. In training we were told that that can be an early signal of a heart attack so hearing that I got him some oxygen.
I was really proud of how competent I was, this man could be at the beginning of a heart attack and I was right there ready to help- I felt confident in my abilities that I could do a great job if it were to happen, or even better- prevent it.
I sat with him and got info on his symptoms, he wasn't nauseous, he wasn't sweating, and he had no chest pains, but he did have a stiff neck, faintness, abdominal discomfort, so kept an eye on him and let him rest, and the paramedics met the plane when we landed.
In the end it turned out it was anxiety! He was claustrophobic and hadn't slept much the night before! I was honestly shocked, he was so calm I didn't think anxiety for a second, but the paramedic described him as "a duck," calm on the outside but under the surface paddling like hell. The passenger rebooked to a later flight so he could chill out.
I can see today that therapy is a very good thing for me. How did I feel after leaving work? I should have felt really proud of my calmness in the situation, and happy that he was okay. Instead I felt ashamed, like I was stupid to think it was something serious when it was just anxiety.
I have heard that giving oxygen to someone having a heart attack can save their life, I am not trained as an EMT, I didn't know what was wrong, I did a good job, and if he had been in real trouble I would have really helped him. And even knowing that, I still felt really down on myself, not as in I didn't feel better than normal, instead I felt as if I had done something bad!
Therapy IS working, because I am recognizing that I am thinking this way, and I am challenging it instead of trusting the feeling that I had done something wrong.
I came up with why I do that to myself. I take accountability to unhealthy extremes. It gives me a sense of control. When I was a kid and my dad was passed out drunk every night, my life wasn't the way I wanted it. I was facing a difficult adolecence, my mother had died only 3 years earlier, my stepmother just left, I had developed early and was overwhelmed by the attention and teasing it led to, and I was having a hard time with classes. I was alone at that point, not only was he not helping me through these hard issues, but I was also alone safety wise. Someone in our tough neighborhood could have very easily watched my dad's evening routine and known that our house had the door unlocked, our belongings and a little girl inside, unguarded. Facing the fact that my life was like this and there was nothing I could do about it was a little too much for me to swallow. So I convinced myself, with quite a bit of logic twisting, that I was accountable.
I did everything I could to be perfect and easy, so he wouldn't have to drink anymore to run away from the pain of having to raise me. When it didn't work I felt that I failed, so instead I was bad (as bad as a goody-goody like me can be anyway.) At least then I felt a sense of cause and effect- I am a bad daughter, that's why he passes out everynight, becuase I am so hard to manage. Another reason I was "bad" is summed up by a poem I wrote back then:
Daddys on the bottle
Mommys in the grave
If no one's there to notice
then why should I behave?
Back then I learned to claim responsibility for things I had no control of, I would blame and punish myself when things went wrong so I didn't have to feel powerless.
Dr. T calls this a "Maladaptive Behavior" people don't have bad habits out of the blue, they start out as survival tools. Because they were "effective" at the time, we continue to do them, even if they interfere with our present lives.
[Hmm, maybe thats part of why I am idle in response to a messy house too. (Imagine the squalor you see on "Cops." the sinkfuls of dishes with flies, garbage and junk strewn all over the floors, that was my house was after my dad started drinking)]
To feel ashamed of myself today instead of proud makes no sense when I look at it in a vaccum. But when I look at the big picture, that I have the maladaptive behavior of expecting myself to be perfect and to be able to control everything, it makes sense.
Now what I need to do is treat myself the way my mom, (or my dad before he started drinking) would treat me. I should give myself a big hug and say "You did a good job today- I'm proud of you"
mood: cry-ey. But thats a good thing. I love to cry but I rarely can. I got some good tears out of this post, real good.