One night, after getting home from dinner out with friends, I had one of the weirdest experiences while high. When we came back home around 10 p.m., our three-year-old was up and running around all over the place (of course), but when I went upstairs, I found the two boys asleep in our bed. I shook them awake to get them the hell out of our room so I could watch some TV.
The eleven-year-old woke up just fine and said, “Goodnight, Dad,” but the nine-year-old half shrieked as if he’d been startled awake and jumped up. It took him a few seconds to realize what was going on, but he eventually crawled out of my bed and stumbled to his room. I didn’t think anything of it and I wasn’t worried about him being freaked out so I went to go pee.
As I went into my bathroom, I immediately felt my heart starting to race—slowly, at first, but then faster and faster. It got to the point that I became scared about what was happening, so much so that I went downstairs to tell Alexandra that I didn’t feel right and was nervous about my heart rate. Then I started getting chilly, and my body was trembling uncontrollably, as if I had a fever.
For the next twenty minutes, I was essentially experiencing a full-blown panic attack. I walked around my kitchen, trying to breathe deeply, drinking water, and talking to Alexandra about random topics to distract myself. She kept talking to me, and I kept breathing, and eventually I went upstairs to lie down and try to warm up while she made me some tea.
After another twenty minutes, the panic attack began to die down. I felt better, and my heart stopped racing. As I calmed down, I took some time to speak with Alexandra about what happened and why the hell I had a panic attack. After some discussion, we realized a few things that are important to note:
Interestingly enough, the next morning, we casually asked him how he’d felt when I woke him up, and he told us that he was scared, that his heart was racing, and that he was shaking in his bed from being woken up. We did not prod or lead him on in any way; we just asked him how he’d felt and that was what he told us, which leads me to believe he may have had a small panic attack.
So, the question is: What caused my panic attack? Was I connecting to my son because I was high, or was I just feeling the impacts of marijuana on my circulatory system and my heart? I can’t answer it for sure—all I can say is that I believe I was connected to my son and that the connection physically affected me, similarly to some of the other experiences I have already summarized.
I also had a heart-warming moment after the panic attack, when I realized that Alexandra’s voice and her reassurance that nothing was wrong were the main reasons I started feeling better. It was exactly what I needed at that moment. She explained to me later that my son has told her that the sound of her voice helps him whenever he is scared or panicking, which apparently does happen a lot.
So this experience did freak me out a little, as Eric hasn’t had a panic attack for twenty years. However, my son does get scared when woken up quickly like that, and the timing of Eric’s panic attack and our son being scared is too much of a coincidence in my opinion. After Eric started to calm down, we had a really heartfelt conversation where I again finally felt like he understood me—particularly how I can feel what our kids are feeling and my need to make them feel better. As scary as it was to see him have this panic attack, I am happy that he did have that experience. In the past, he would have argued with me that I was “babying” the kids, whereas now he tries to soothe them more. Lastly, to know that my voice helped calm him down really warmed me, and to know I have that effect on him made me see him in a different light. I know we all get so busy with our daily lives—coordinating pick-ups, drop-offs, breakfast, lunch, dinner, homework, playdates—that I forgot that before we had kids, we did have a profound impact on one another. This experience reminded me of how much I missed that.
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