Sitting in my house while on the phone doing my preinterview for 20/20 I had what most people would call a breakdown. My boyfriend, Jim, called it a breakthrough, but the breakdown had to happen first.
I hung up the phone with the 20/20 producers and put my hand over my heart. It was beating fast, as though I had just run a marathon. I wasn't nervous about the interview and I didn't feel stressed out, so I couldn't understand where these heart palpitations were coming from. I stepped outside and took a few deep breaths, but it didn't help.
That night I decided to sleep in Evan's room with him. I thought that I might be sensing an upcoming seizure, as I had in the past. As I lay glued to him with my eyes wide open, the feeling in my chest got worse. I started to sweat and then I began to panic that something was terribly wrong with me. I ran to my good ol' computer and went to my favorite university: the University of Google. I searched for heart palpitations and it brought up anxiety and panic attacks. I sat back in my chair and realized that Google was right. I wasn't dying of a heart attack; I was simply having a panic attack. I couldn't believe that I had gone through the past two years—dealing with the emotional roller coaster of autism, watching Evan have seizures, and even watching him go into cardiac arrest—without ever having a panic attack. Why NOW when everything seemed okay?
I was just about to publish my book Louder Than Words, and I wondered if, on a subconscious level, I was scared out of my mind about telling the world for the first time about my experiences with Evan. I didn't think that was it, though. Don't get me wrong, I was scared but this was not the reason for my panic attacks. I went down the list of possible worries: Evan's health, my debt, my relationship. They all came back negative. Nothing resonated.