Panic attacks….

Last night Alex had a massive, massive panic attack. He was back there, at the caravan park, with his dying dad. Kept getting flashbacks. Couldn’t breathe, couldn’t talk, sobbed, kept hitting himself in the chest with his mouth wide open like a fish out of water… At one point I wasn’t sure whether he was cataplexing with the emotional intensity (he has narcolepsy/cataplexy) or actually passing out from lack of oxygen. Between the sobs he managed to get out some words. “I wish I could see him again. Just one more time.” and “He was too young, he shouldn’t have died.” and “It’s not fair, there was so much more stuff we still wanted to do together.”… He was telling me how his Daddy asked him to get help, and when he asked him why, he was told that it was important and he had to be a good boy and do the right thing. “Why didn’t he tell me Mummy? Why didn’t he tell me he was dying?”… We spoke at length, hugging, holding hands, while I was gently trying to get him to slow down his breathing. At one point he actually needed his inhaler (which, luckily we had from when he suffered pneumonia last November). Out poured all this stuff, stored up in my little boys heart, head and belly. I praised him again for having done such a good job, and for talking about it now. Reminded him that it was okay to feel sad, but that it was okay to be happy too. How, if he was happy, nobody would think even for a second that he was happy because his daddy died. Such a huge burden on such little shoulders. He sobbed for not having been able to bring him back, as we wished so, so hard, every birthday when he blew out his candles. Finally actually realising the finality of death. The meaning of forever. He told me how when he was two, him and his daddy used to go to Granny and Grandpa’s to do the gardening, and when they came in Granny would’ve baked scones and they would eat them with butter and jam. He couldn’t stop panicking, and, in between the sobs and gasping for air, he managed to say that he was scared. Scared of him. “How?” I asked, and learnt that he meant he was scared about what was happening to him now. I told him that he was okay. Held his face in my hands. Told him to look at me, and to breathe with me. In………. and out……… slowly… Again and again. That he was having a panic attack. How when he slowed down his breathing, he would be able to breath. How there was nothing wrong with him, how he wouldn’t need to go to hospital, and how he would be okay. All he had to do was look at me, and slow down his breathing. I explained about post traumatic stress disorder, about panic attacks, and about the effect of cortisol on the body. How tears help wash it out – how it all helps to make him feel better. I asked him if he would find it helpful to look through the box of his daddy’s stuff I had kept. He nodded, and, shivering, shaking and gasping for air, we went to find it. Looked through it all, laughed at old photographs, tried out some stamps we found, and wore some of his clothes. Put his mobile on charge, to look at the pictures on there in the morning. He calmed down, and kept a few things out for himself. I found Martin’s old hospital treatment notes and cried. We all hugged. John, Alex, Lauren, Nicole, Livvy, Rhiana, Leanna and I. Everyone was great.

THIS is exactly why I need to write another book. Because kids don’t just ‘get over it’. And they don’t ‘forget’. And they continue to need help understanding and grieving…

Big hugs to you all. Thanks for reading through this monster post. xxxxx