As a child growing up, I knew I as different from everyone else. The sights and smells of certain foods made me ill, and I had a finicky appetite. If I smelled something that disagreed with me it would feel as if my breath were being cut off. At other times I would be eating, and it would feel as if I was unable to swallow. I broke out in cold sweats and was very nervous in crowds.
I spent my 20th birthday in a hospital bed.
There are many forms of anxiety. I never noticed my anxiety until I was probably in high school. It got worse in my college years. Everyone experiences it differently. But if you are like me, you have experienced actual panic attacks. They can be frightening, especially if it is your first episode. My first panic attack landed me in the ER. I felt I was experiencing a "heart attack." After this event, I developed health anxiety. I was so scared that I would have another "near-death experience" (it felt like). After a couple of years now, I had learned what works and what doesn't for me. The ONE thing that is important for you to know is that it will pass and you WON'T die. Even if you feel like you are, you won't. When you feel your heart racing before you speak publicly, remember why you are doing it in the first place. The next step is to breathe. In your nose. Out your mouth. Hold your exhale longer than your inhale. Focus on finding the lowest deepest spot in your stomach as you exhale. Focus on the people in the audience excited to hear what you have to say. Try speaking with excitement and in turn, your body will react and feel excited and not frightened.
These four words held so much strength during one of my most intense panic attacks, even in my frazzled mind at the time. Because it is 100 percent true. The storm will never last forever. Your panic attack will NEVER last forever. No matter how frightening or gruelling or exhausting it is, it will ALWAYS pass.
Do you remember when you were a kid and you had to walk through a dark room? The way your heart would race, your eyes would play tricks on you, warping the shadows into wicked monsters, and you'd start moving faster, as if making it to the light would somehow save you from the creepy creatures breathing down your neck?
The next step of my life is something I have been questioning myself. Whenever this question is asked I have a mental breakdown. At church one day we went in a circle and said what we were going to do next year, everyone answered with what college they were going to go to and what profession they were going to study. As for me, I do not know where I am going to college or what exactly I am going to study. It was now my turn to answer, and I sat there with a blank stare on my face. I suddenly then realized something, I do not know where I have to go to college or what I am going to study right now, I have thought of something that was a solution to giving me a little hope for my next step in life.
Dealing with panic attacks is very hard. I deal with panic attacks more then I would like sometimes it makes me afraid to leave my own home in fear another will come out of the blue. Panic attacks are like dark shadows that come out of nowhere it doesn’t matter what I’m doing it will appear. I have had them wake me up out of my sleep the experience of that was like a roller coaster. You wake up to your heart racing numbness bad taste in your mouth. It depends on how bad it is for the moment to pass by which feels like forever and it leaves me feeling physical and mentally tired.
In the film, Silver Linings Playbook, Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany describes herself as “not a very good dancer” but that “it’s therapy and it’s fun.” The first time I saw the film, this line spoke to me. I related to her, because it made her depression a bit more bearable. I have a YouTube channel, where I’ve talked a few times about self care, and found myself using this sentiment as advice recently. I found myself advising people to find a passion to help them through anxiety. Writing had basically saved my sanity and honing it has been the best medicine. But who was going to see that? My channel has 52 subscribers and averages 15 views per video, so who was I really talking to?