I have my first panic attack in a long time.


A panic attack has hit me.  

I know why: I made a mistake with my seedlings. This is deeply embarrassing to me. To some, this may seem a small thing. But here’s what went through my mind as I saw my failing plants. First, I started beating myself up for being a failure at something I feel quite accomplished at. Second, I felt incredibly angry at the time I have lost, if I choose to start over again — and the seedlings will be late starts. Third, I am an heirloom gardener; I like choosing the varieties I like best rather than having to take whatever an organic gardening store has to offer. And, fourth, I thought of all the people who’ve decided to be new gardeners this year because of the pandemic. Surely, they will beat me into purchasing the best plants if that’s the route I decide to go.

Thankfully, I am catching myself early on in the pain.  Perhaps I can write myself through the panic — as it often does — so it is short-lived, and I can make a plan to deal with the issue that I forced upon myself.  

The panic began with realizing I had made a huge mistake.  Rather than jumping immediately to how I could remedy the problem, my brain went to a place of calling myself a failure.   To a lesser degree, I could have acknowledged that I failed at something.  To a more helpful degree, I could have quickly pivoted to a plan to fix the problem.  But, no, my mind decided to jump to a place where I took on the mistake as deeply personal.  I didn’t make a simple mistake.  I didn’t even fail at something.  No, jumped to I AM A FAILURE. I AM A FAILED GARDENER.

I won’t completely be able to fix my problem.  What’s done is done.  But I need to just let the past be the past and plan for how to start over.

Right now, physically, I have a shortness of breath, a constrained chest, shoulders, and upper arms, taut nerves throughout the upper body and — most worrisome — what feels like concrete running through the mid part of my spine (near the lungs) through to the center of my brain.  (No, I’m not being hit by the Coronavirus.  As I noted the pain started with a known reason; and, the pain started immediately.)

“As best you can, Michael, fix the problem.  Chalk it up as a learning experience. You are not a failure.”

As I am trying to work through this (and about 30 minutes of intense pain), Rebecca wakes up.  She comes downstairs, thankful to have slept in a bit.  She asks me how I am doing.  I note that I am not good.  I tell her the issue and how Anxiety has taken over my thoughts and my body — the physical pain.

She shakes her head.  She notes that internalizing the mistake to the degree that I do is not helpful.  “It’s garbage; it’s ego; we all make mistakes.”

I know she is right.  I just feel so foolish.  Thankfully, the physical pain I was going through is subsiding.

The writing is working … as is Rebecca’s asking me about how the problem can be fixed.

I need to move on to making a plan for today.  Deal with the issue.  Move on. 

And breathe.

P.S. I also decided a good workout would help tire and loosen up my taut muscles. Once I’m done with that, I’m also going to write a gratitude entry — I am so thankful for having Rebecca in my life.



  1. Tom S. 5 April 2020 at 8:11 am

    Thanks, Michael for sharing this. You are in my thoughts and prayers, both of you, as well as all those who suffer from panic attacks. Remember, you are not alone. Feel free to give me a call anytime, day or night.

    • Michael Dahl 5 April 2020 at 10:27 am

      Thanks, as always, Tom. It’s so good to know I have friends.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.