Rough Day

Yesterday was a bit of a rough day. I was fine most of the morning at work, but my mother called. Few people can ruin my day like she often can. She didn’t say anything really offensive, but it’s the way she starts in about things. I can’t seem to do much right in her eyes. After I got off the phone with her, I had a full-blown panic attack. I’ve been having panic attacks recently, but this is really the first one that came while I was at work. I’m not always sure what causes them, but I can pretty well pinpoint this one to the phone call from my mother.

Right after I talked to her, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, my heart began to race, I began to shake, and I just want to curl up into a ball and cry. When this happens, I’m unable to concentrate on anything, and I just get so flustered. My head feels like it’s going to explode, and I have this hot sensation all over my head. I got up from my desk and walked outside and around the building, hoping some fresh air might help, but it didn’t. I sat down in one of the comfy armchairs in the museum’s lobby (no one was around), and that too didn’t help. Furthermore, I had a meeting that was supposed to start soon, but I knew it wasn’t that important. So, I went to my boss and told him I was having a panic attack and needed to go home. I know, it was probably not the best idea to drive in that condition, but I felt I had to get out of there.

I needed to be home, in my private space, so I could lay down in the dark for a while. It took a few hours to finally calm down, but it did happen. I was actually able to run to the grocery store, like I’d planned to do yesterday afternoon anyway. While it was only the grocery store, I calmed down looking at food and doing a little retail therapy. By the time I got home, I felt relatively normal again.

I hate the sensation of a panic attack. I used to get these every time I had to fly or anytime money was an issue, like unexpected expenses that couldn’t be avoided. Now, I can probably add talking to my mother to the list. I think one of the triggers may have been her talking about me going home. I haven’t been back to Alabama since the pandemic began, and I think it has done wonders for my mental stability. However, the thought of going back to Alabama again is something that, for the most part, I dread.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

7 responses to “Rough Day

  • David

    I made a major move away from family about 20 years ago, my mother would guilt trip me about visiting with every phone call she made. Life was stressful enough and I would have panic attacks after her calls. I finally had to tell her to stop. And she did which surprised me.
    I still get the attacks every now and then, but I’ve learned to stop everything I’m doing and just take deep breath’s while telling myself it’s all ok.

    • Joe

      Thanks for the advice. That’s what I did when I.went home, and I suspect I’m going to have to talk to my mother about this.

      • David

        She may not even realize she’s doing it, but still, be direct, but be nice about it.
        Ps recently discovered your site and love it. Good work

      • Joe

        I’m glad you enjoy the site. Welcome! I doubt she realizes that she does it. She’s never understood how hurtful her words can be.

  • Wes

    Joe, my partner has similar parents to your mother. He only takes their phone calls when he is “ready” to. So for one thing, don’t take calls from your mother in working hours, only take calls from her when you are at home and can can calm down after the call. And even then, don’t answer the call unless you are in a good head space to deal with it. You should be controlling when you take the dialogue. Wes

  • killian Smith


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