It hurts…

Today….my heart hurts.

And I am loathe to write that because I have promised myself that this blog would be as positive as possible at all times.  But I can’t ignore it any longer today.  If I have learned one thing about myself over the past few years, is that the more I acknowledge and confront things through writing, the better I will feel.

So, I’m apologizing in advance for the lack of positivity in today’s post because I just don’t have it in me.

Last night, I had a panic attack.  While hubby and were doing homework. While I had a dilator inside me. I don’t really know what went wrong, but I suspect it’s because I allowed myself to move to far, too fast; I didn’t listen to myself.

We had an appointment with our sex therapist yesterday which actually went really well.  We spent a lot of time talking about “the plan” – more or less a timeline that I’ve had in my own head, which comfortably details the path to intercourse. Sometimes I forget that these plans are only in my own head, and I forget to verbalize them to hubby.

We also talked about a fear I’ve been having lately. I have pretty much completely avoided any sexual situations with hubby because I’m afraid.  I know that my body and my nervous reactions to sex have been changing because of the physio.  Things have been loosening up, as I become more comfortable.  But my biggest fear is getting into a sexual situation and then having “slippage” of some kind that would involve accidental penetration.  While I am confident that I could physically handle it (maybe with a bit of pain), I don’t know that I could emotionally. We’re learning that it’s very important that I have a choice when it comes to my sexuality and sexual encounters.

So, this is why I continue to follow my safe and comfortable path.  Because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I don’t want any surprises along the way.  I’m fearful that an accidental penetration might result in a major emotional set-back (aka. panic attacks), which, in turn, would result in a physical set-back. So, I continue along my safe path.

Last night, I got home from a yoga class and hubby (being a good and “dedicated to the plan” hubby) had set up our “homework station.” So, even though I was feeling exhausted and emotionally drained from a rather tiring and frustrating yoga class, I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers.  So, I bounded into homework, asking that we keep it short and sweet – we’d just do number 6 and the blue one and be done with it.

I think that might have been a bad attitude to start with. Number 6 went in ok, but I knew when we were done that I didn’t really want to move on to the blue one. I was tired and not doing it because I wanted to, but because I felt I  had to. But I also knew we would be out the next night and likely wouldn’t do homework at all.  So I pushed forward.  Onto the blue. About an inch or two in, I got a sharp, shooting pain in my vagina.

And it all went downhill from there.

I feel like I lose all semblance of control over my emotions when a panic attack hits.  All I am capable of doing is crying.  Long, choking, can’t-catch-my-breath crying. I can’t think straight.  I can’t rationalize my way out of it.  All I can do is succumb to it and hope that my surrender makes it all be over sooner.

I couldn’t look at my dilators.  I couldn’t stand the thought of being naked from the waist down. I didn’t even want to acknowledge what hubby and I had just been doing. It was painful and embarrassing and terrifying. I just wanted to curl up into a ball in warm, flannel pj’s and just be held while I cried it out.

I fell asleep and my heart hurt.  I woke up this morning and for the briefest instant, I felt fine.  And then the ache in my chest set in again, and for the better part of the day, I have pushed it down, refused to talk about it and ignored what happened.  I know I need to deal with it.  This is the first step.

I have no idea if/how this panic attack will affect our further progress. I just know that it’s weighing on my mind and my body and I need it not to be.

I don’t know how many regular readers I have out there, but if you’ve encountered this post today, please send your happy thoughts my way. Has anyone else had sex-related panic attacks? How have you handled them?

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9 Responses to It hurts…

  1. I’m not sure I would describe my own problems as panic attacks, but I do have a general panic about the whole sex thing. I’m progressing pretty well physically, but recently I’ve had a bladder infection, then a yeast infection that really made me regress in the physical department. It’s very discouraging, but the scariest part for me is the emotional part – I am terrified that I will never desire sex again.

    I have to keep reminding myself that any physical training has setbacks and that they shouldn’t discourage me into depression. And I have to keep believing that once I am convinced of zero pain related to sex, my desire will come back.

    You just have to take deep breaths and tell yourself that it’s hard and it sucks, but if you keep working at it, you will get there.

  2. Husband says:

    I know it is hard but stick with it. It sounds like you have a supportive husband and that will help to get you where you need to go. I think my wife and I are almost at the end of our journey and while it was a hard trip both emotionally and physically the end result is worth it.


    • eccentrictulip says:

      thank you for the support @Husband and @The Girl with Pain “Down There”. It’s been an emotionally rough few days, but I feel like I’m coming out of it. Change is never a straight path, so I’m trying to accept my two steps back, knowing that 3 steps forward is in the future :)

  3. Hope says:

    Please know that you’re not alone, and keep reminding yourself that someday you’ll be able to declare that this is how you used to be, I assure you, it’s possible. First, let me applaud you for sharing your experience with the world, the amount of courage it displays is astounding to me. I lived in silence and fear of my vaginismus for many years, it was a lonely place and I know when I was going through the peak of my treatment, I would have found your blog very comforting. With that said, let me attempt to send some positivity your way…after nearly ten years of experiencing pain and complete panic attacks as you described in your post, I overcame vaginismus. I know, you’re thinking, so why the hell am I here, well, admittedly it’s not perfect. Although therapy, dilation exercises and an understanding gynecologist (I still have to take xanax to get an exam) have made me “almost normal”, I still experience pain during sex…for approximately five seconds upon insertion and then, I enjoy pain free, pleasurable sex. I began therapy not even being able to insert a cue tip without feeling like I was going to pass out, so to say I can live with five seconds of pain is reasonable I guess! But believe me when I say, I never thought I’d ever be anywhere close to normal sexually, and yet, here I am, and you’ll get there too, I know it. I am educated, successful and seemingly normal on the outside but vaginismus made me feel completely inadequate as a human being. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t do what seemed like the easiest most natural thing in the world for everyone else. Feel blessed that you have a patient and loving husband at your side, and know that if a single 30something (me) can overcome her va-jay-jay panic attacks so can you. Stay persistent, show yourself a little compassion and come out on the other side of this thing a stronger woman, you can do it.

    • eccentrictulip says:

      Wow. @Hope – thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

      • Hope says:

        My words were heartfelt, I’m glad they were helpful in some way. Everyone is different, but for me, I think the biggest hurdle was learning to understand the signals my body was sending me and well, make peace with my vagina. The vag reflex is one of a protective nature, but someone needed to inform my lady parts that there was no protection necessary… thanks but no thanks! One of the things that was most helpful to me was the work I did with my therapist regarding general anatomy knowledge, and the scientific wonders of the vagina. It seemed ridiculous and uncomfortable at the time, but I needed to get over the idea that maybe my body just wasn’t cut out for this whole sex thing. When I realized that the scientific facts indicated that putting in a dilator (which seemed unreasonably freaking large) might be a lot easier if I was aroused in some way, well, the road to progress began. Although I’m certain I wouldn’t have found success without my team of “vagina experts”, there was a workbook I had, “A Woman’s Guide to Overcoming Sexual Fear and Pain” that I found helpful and imagine would be even more helpful since you have a husband (there are a lot of sex-free exercises to build up comfortability level). If you haven’t come across it on your own already, it might be worth looking into to. That was probably way more information than you wanted or needed to know, but thank you for giving me a safe place to share my thoughts. Best wishes to you…

        • eccentrictulip says:

          @Hope definitely NOT too much information than I wanted or needed – what great comments you’ve added. honestly, thank you. I actually have not heard of the workbook you mentioned so I will definitely look into that. you have no idea how awesome it is to know that i’m not alone. i know there are many of us out there with vaginismus, but each story is different, and i had yet to come across anyone who had had panic attacks like i have had. it’s definitely a comfort to know that i am not alone :)

  4. Vanessa says:

    I don’t have panic attacks but I have trouble transitioning from “normal” life to “sex” life. So many times I just want to “get it over with” and my husband Joe senses it and that hurts his feelings.

    Sending postive thoughts for you and your hubby!


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