Not too long ago, I was driving back from Kentucky having just spent six days away from home. I had been in Kentucky watching my dad die, watching my family watch my dad die, and trying not to lose my proverbial shit. Diah’s death got me slightly more accustomed to public crying, but it’s still not on my list of things I’d write as a turn-on on match.com. Incidentally, I also wouldn’t list match.com as a turn-on. That profile was a mistake made in youth that will never be repeated. Where were we?
Ah, yes. In the car, driving back to Nashville. Drained, numbed, tired, and probably unable to breathe through one side of my nose (Kentucky = allergies), I hit Bluegrass Parkway and gave myself permission to loosen up the tight coils that had formed in my spine. As the opening drums of “I Don’t Care” hit me in the face, everything relaxed. I had permission to lose my shit in the privacy of my own car.
Last weekend, I found myself driving to Kentucky again. A panic attack came out of nowhere, seeping up my chest, speeding up my heart, and making my palms start to sweat. As it so often goes when I travel, I wanted to be home. Right then.
A girl doesn’t survive with panic on Paxil alone. I have grown, in part, smarter than my brain. I know its games, and I know how to stop them. Its name is Klaus. It is my iPod.
A PBS special called The Musical Mind helped explain it: when you listen to music that you enjoy, your brain impulses light up, turning your skull into Studio 54. Your brain says “yes” and, in so doing, forgets all about whatever nastiness it was conjuring. It’s like seeing a toddler walk toward an electrical socket and distracting said toddler with a toy. (Unless the toddler is screaming, in which case I suggest letting the kid fry.)
For what it’s worth, clicking the iPod to a song I really, really like helps talk me down from a panic attack. It might help you. May I suggest Fall Out Boy’s “I Don’t Care”?