This past Monday night I was robbed at gunpoint. There is still an active investigation so I will spare the details. I will just say it was a scary experience.
I have been commended for my calm under the pressure of this stressful situation. People say I did the right thing. People say I was brave. People have even said that I'm a hero. The thing is, I don't feel brave or heroic. I simply complied with the gunman's demands to the best of my ability and then called the police after he left.
Looking back, though this could be a major step for me. As nervous and anxious as I have been prone to be, this could have been a major challenge for me. People freeze up in circumstances like this. Their minds go blank. I could have frozen up and not been able to comply with the attackers demands. I could have forgotten the safe codes or could have been to shaky to enter the code into the keypad. I could have had a full out panic attack and could have acted erratically and gotten myself shot. But I didn't do any of those things. I complied with a reasonable level of anxiety and fear given the situation.
I called the police and was a bit anxious while talking with them and dealing with the aftermath. This is natural after such a traumatic experience. But overall I remained remarkably calm throughout the few hours I spent dealing with the aftermath. And in the days following, life has seemed to continue on as scheduled. They gave me a few extra days off from work to "deal with things."
People keep asking me if I'm OK. "How are you doing?" they say. But I don't know how to respond. I am fine. Nothing has changed. My life is exactly as it was before this happened, but all this prodding makes me concerned that maybe it should not be this easy. It seems as if I'm expected to feel something. Fear, maybe anger, pain, or some sense of loss? But I don't. Today I did exactly the type of things I would have done with any normal free Friday, aside from a quick visit with the police to look at a lineup of photos.
There are a few thoughts I have on this:
One. As I have always said on my blog, I feel that my battles with panic attacks made me a stronger person. I am now more attuned than most to the things that my body tells me. I am better able to cope with stress. Many years of "false alarms" with the fight or flight response have trained me to cope with these moments better than some others. "From chaos come clarity". Now don't get me wrong. Of course I am not talking about any movie hero type calm under pressure. Liam Neeson from "Taken" would have disabled this punk in 0.25 seconds and made him fork over HIS wallet. This was not me. I have no shame in that. This stuff only happens in movies. I am not going to say I was not scared. I was TERRIFIED! I was punched multiple times all while having a gun pointed at my head.
But I did handle myself with, I think, and admirable level of grace considering the circumstances. I do thank my lucky stars that I was able to remain this calm during this. I have more to elaborate on this, but feel that it would be wise to wait until the investigation is complete to say anymore in the direction that I want to go.
For now, I am just monitoring myself and trying to look out for what is best for me. I do not want to relapse into panic. I have been panic attack free for close to two years now. I find that the worst thing to do at this point is to think of that streak when I begin to get anxious. The added pressure of breaking this streak just makes it all that much worse. I am usually able to abate it with some opposite action techniques and realizing once again that if I do have a panic attack life will go on.
I intend to seek some counseling. While I don't feel anything yet, I have been advised by people who deal with things like this more than I do. They have said that it's paramount to seek some counseling as anger or fear will surely show up at some point. I will take their advice. Mostly I am determined not to let this change me. I like who I am. I do not want to change and be someone else. I will not the thugs and punks of this world change me into a fearful or hateful person. Resisting this may be one of my hardest challenges right now...
Wish me luck!