Friday, November 4, 2011

Outpatient- Out Of Patience

Yesterday was a horrifically eventful day.
The day of my last post- the day before yesterday, now- I had left a note for the gentleman who is assigned to my unit to help aid with "Combat And Operational Stress". He is a wonderful guy, but didn't get back to me about this note, in which I asked for someone to talk to about the anxiety. I didn't hear anything, but had my first true anxiety attack in formation during PT.
For those of you who aren't military minded, and I commend you for trying to follow this mess, we line up in several rows, with one person in charge (more or less) and that's a formation. Now, we do our exercise in these formations- to include running.
We got about a block before the pain in my chest was so horrible I couldn't breathe and run at the same time- and certainly not while surrounded by other people running and bumping into or stepping on one another. I took myself out of the formation, trying to continue to run, albeit at a much slower pace, but eventually gave up and walked. A senior NCO came over, and asked what was wrong. Breathless, I told him 'anxiety attack'. He told me I could just go back to HQ, and my response was to shake my head and say 'that's quitting.' He didn't argue. A female NCO I'm pretty close to fell out of formation to come run/walk with me. We followed the same route the runners did, and I didn't quit. By the time we made it back to HQ, people were already finishing their stretches. My 1sg and company commander pulled me aside. My commander asked if I'd run that route, and when I (still not able to breathe well at all) told him I'd walked it, my 1sg (First Sergeant) asked me what was going on, I, again, said "anxiety attack". He instructed my boss to make sure I was alright.
For those of you that are familiar with medicine, my blood oxygen level (pulse ox) was 93. I wasn't getting enough oxygen, go figure.
Anyhow, I went to group yesterday, and was pulled aside at the end of the session. A social worker noted that I'd been coming to these groups "religiously" each Tuesday and Thursday, while most showed up once a week, at best. The note I had left the combat and operational stress guy had also been brought to her attention. I told her about the anxiety attack, and the incredible amount of problems all of this was causing for me at work.
She said I sounded like a perfect candidate for outpatient therapy.
....Wait, what?! That's an option?!
I spent several hours after that at a behavioral health clinic about 30 minutes from work, filling out papers, until I was certain to be late to my reiki appointment. Fortunately, the person scheduled after me for reiki wound up rescheduling completely, and the woman I work with on this was very understanding about it.
Today, I headed to work, not knowing whether or not my command was okay with me taking part in the outpatient program. After several hours, and more than an hour and a half after I should have already been at the clinic, it was finally cleared up.
My command is allowing me to go, and I am responsible for keeping them in the loop about everything and maintaining my own physical fitness, so I won't find myself moving from multiple hours of therapy into a crowd of running soldiers (again). This is expected to be several weeks long, 10-14 business days. Today was only a small taste of what I'll be dealing with, as I will be moved into a military group (I wear civilian clothes to this, wearing my uniform makes me more tense and anxious than I already am).
I am incredibly grateful to my commander for blessing off on this, and incredibly grateful in a more general sense for the opportunity to be away from my work, away from those people, and actually take some time and heal all these raw, open wounds.
I'm terrified, too, though.
I have had more anxiety since that one hour meeting with the social worker summarizing my life than I have ever had. If that's what happened after one hour, what happens after a day or a week of me talking this out, spilling my guts and really looking at those still-gaping wounds?
This sweet thing managed to nearly put me into another anxiety attack. I love her dearly, but she is so excited to see me sometimes that she gets a little bit too much so. She clocked me in the mouth after repeatedly jumping on me (she's full grown, but new to us, and not completely trained yet) and I had to push her away, and, eventually go put myself behind the closed door of our bedroom. She didn't want me to walk away from her, and she didn't mean to do any damage, but my anxiety turns to anger too quickly, and I will NOT hurt my dog, or anyone else.
She really is a fantastic dog, though, and very attached. I'm really glad to have her.

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