The thing with panic attacks, is that they can strike at any time, anywhere.

They can suck the life out of any party.

Turn a shopping excursion to Target into a white knuckle affair.

They can make the most social butterfly (me) retreat into her dark, lonely cocoon where she (me) watches as others (you) spread their wings and take flight.

Some of the time, there appears to be no trigger.

It comes on suddenly, without warning, and

drenched in sweat, I try to steady my hands, my heartbeat, my breathing.

Some of the time, there is a specific antecedent:

a thought (or five zillion at once)

too much time googling strange symptoms

CNN with breakfast

or, as the case was today,

an unexpected malfunction

(my back decided to give me the finger)

Pain, in and of itself does not necessarily scare me (though I am by no means a martyr)

but when my body, (which I already do not trust to do right by me) begins to show new signs of wear and tear,

I get freaked the freak out.

Not good.

Especially not good when you have an important obligation to fulfill.

So, while I was determined to work through the pain, my rising anxiety was an altogether different beast, and  as I got into my car and put the key in the ignition the familiar (but no less terrifying) waves of panic and fear washed over me.

Which meant,

it was time for me to retreat once again, into that dark cocoon, and allow the fear to consume me from the inside out.

It was time for me to flake on my commitment, miss out on another opportunity, give in and give up.

Except, today it wasn’t.


I got out of the car

sat on the bench in front of my house

and as my breathing slowed

and my hands became steady

and the nausea began to subside

I looked beyond my front yard

and noticed the world

passing me by

and I thought

“F#$%. That.”

So I got back into my station wagon volvo

and drove like a granny

5.6 miles to my meeting

5.6 miles towards freedom


5.6 miles

to  victory




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6 Replies to “5.6 Miles”

  1. We have a very close friend who has Panic attacks, but I never imagined how bad the feeling would be 🙁 Thanx for being that strong, You inspire a lot of people 🙂

  2. I had a good three years of panic attacks. In fact walking to the end of the pier paralyzed me because I wouldn’t have an “out”.

    I feel you. And well done on those 5.6 miles.

  3. Your determination today was amazing, and I’m SO glad you decided to return the finger to your back pain and come anyway. Your strength and fantastic attitude are incredibly admirable. Try the meditation again tonight and sleep, sleep, sleep well. Hugs!

  4. And so it begins…the muscle memory, so to speak. I don’t know how many times you have said “*%#!@ this!” to an attack and defied intertia and despair–but each time you do, your body gets the freakin message NOT TO MESS WITH JO ASHLINE CAUSE SHE’S GOT THINGS TO BE, PLACES TO DO (sorry, I’m currently addicted to Shel Silverstein’s brilliant, “Runny Babbit”)!

    Must you keep inspiring me so?

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