Monday, October 22, 2007

Anxiety of Jury Selection Should be a Reality TV Show

Today I had to go to the downtown courthouse to fulfill my civic duty and potentially serve on a jury. For me, this was a dream come true. I am a big fan of the legal world and love to see it in action. I really wanted to be on the jury. When I got to the courthouse I was about twenty minutes early and so I sat down along with everyone else and immediately I was struck with panic. I tried to take deep breaths and that helped a little. I took some Clonozepam and worried that I wouldn't have enough time for it to kick in. I watched the minutes counting down and realized that if I needed to go to the restroom to let the panic explode, I could be late for the beginning and I didn't know what that would do. I didn't want to miss anything. So I pulled out my lappy and pulled up my/this blog- The Reality of Anxiety, and clicked on the label "Self Talk." I scanned the articles and read positive affirmations and similar situations and what I did to talk myself out of my panic. I opened up a word doc and typed as quickly as I could the following:

"What am I telling myself to make me feel this way?

I am all alone and that is scary. What if I get sick and I make myself late? What if I can’t eat breakfast or lunch with all of these strangers? What if I am sick all day long? What if people judge me? What if me getting sick makes them send me home?

Positive Affirmation:

I respect and believe in myself apart from others opinions.

What if the worst case scenario happened?

If I were to have a full blown panic attack where I have to leave and go to the restroom, and if it makes me late, or makes it so they send me home, I will still be just fine. My life will go on and I will get over it.

First of all, look at all that you have already accomplished today. I found my way on where to go when the GPS was telling me something else. I made it here on time, all by myself. I can do anything I put my mind to. I am strong, capable and secure. I do what I want to do no matter what anyone thinks about it, and I don’t care what they think.

I have already prevented a full blown attack by using deep breathing techniques and managing my negative self talk, and I am starting to feel better already. I feel myself calming down."

It worked. I was able to calm my thoughts and my breathing and I was able to then put the laptop away and get out some reading material and focus on that to further my distraction. Why my anxiety flared up so bad so quickly this morning I am not sure, but I am glad I was able to manage it.

I was so excited afterwards to see how it all works. I realized that excitement is very similar to anxiety, but on a much smaller scale. I went through a grueling QA session and tried to answer as best I could to boost my chances of getting on. And then the question was given that I knew if I didn't tell my experience in that situation, I would be lying under oath. I didn't want to say it but I did. The case was a malpractice civil suit where a patient is suing a hospital. The question was if any of my family had any medical attention that caused them to have any complications from that medical help. I happen to have a sister in law who passed away from taking her prescription medication that was dosed out to her by her doctor. I knew the moment I said "passed away" that there was no way they would put me on their jury even though I really wanted to and I could have been fair and impartial.The defense lawyers even winced when I said it. But many others seemed to have their own personal history or family history that could rule them out as well, so I remained hopeful.

After the lawyers struck people off the list, the suspense mounted. I was anxious, but not anything above a normal amount for this type of situation.

Then the moment of truth arrived. They were going to announce the jury. I could feel the suspense, the excitement, the hope, and the fear. I thought to myself, "Someone should make a reality tv show for the jury selection process." When they didn't call my name, I felt like I had been voted off the island, kicked out of the house, eliminated from the race, and had to take the walk of shame home. Those that were chosen might as well have been given a rose by the bailiff. I was pretty bummed.

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Unknown said...

Way to go! This is a great post. You did everything right. I wish I could handle myself like this when I start to panic. For some reason on cognitive logic goes out the window no matter how hard I try to focus and do the things you listed! I guess it takes practice. Again, great job!

Aimée said...

Thanks Claire!

It really does take practice. Sometimes it works and sometimes its not enough. But the more you turn it into a lifestyle change, something you do all the time, the easier it is to remember how to focus on thoughts other than your fear.

Best of luck! Thanks for the comments :)

Robert said...

Congratulations! It's my hope that my wife will be as positive as you, one day.

Better luck next time with jury service.

Anonymous said...

You take clonazepam as-needed? Somehow I guess I missed that.

Believe me, the legal system is boring and you're not missing out on much. I used to be in the legal profession, in a way.

Aimée said...

Thanks Robert!

Hey D,
Yep, I only take Clonazepam as-needed, in the amount that is needed. I usually only take half of 0.5 mg tablet and that will do the trick, but if I am really having issues I will up it to a full tablet. If I take it when I am not anxious, then it makes me dizzy and act like I am drunk, but if I take it when I am really anxious it helps me to feel normal. Its the perfect recipe for me along with my daily Zoloft.

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