Yesterday I felt it coming. It was not the first time and likely will not be the last. The dreaded panic attack.
Words Have Meaning
“Panic attack” is an interesting phrase if you think about it. Partially because it’s so overused. People like to throw the term around so casually that it starts to feel more like a figure of speech than an actual medical event. For most of my life, I did not struggle with things like severe anxiety or depression. I had my moments every now and then, but we all do. I remember even when friends, who were medically diagnosed with these conditions, would describe their struggles to me, I never took their pain very seriously because I only had my experiences to draw from. If I’m being honest, it was hard not to just wonder, “why aren’t they getting over it?” After all, at the time I thought I knew what it meant to feel stress. I thought I understood what it was really like. However, I was very mistaken.
It’s fine until it happens to you
Fast forward a few years ago to when I had my first panic attack. Ahh, we all remember our first don’t we? I was still in some pretty hardcore denial that my anxiety had gone from mild to more severe. However, sometimes it’s amazing how the human body can humble you. Without getting into the details for your sake (and truthfully my own), I realized later that day, once I had finally been able to somewhat relax, that I had just experienced something very different than I thought was possible. It freaked me out. It left me no longer feeling as if I was in control of my own body and mind. Let’s just say I would give the experience a 0 out of 5 stars on Yelp. My eyes were opened that day and I realized just how wrong I had assumed that I knew what was possible and how someone else should process their emotions, their stress, their life.
Fast forward again, to present day. Panic attacks have no longer become a distant background character in my day to day story. If my life was a TV series, panic attacks have become that evil villain who makes multiple cameos throughout the season to keep the overarching plotline going. In other words, they’re the worst. What it’s taught me though is how to better observe. That if I do not pay closer attention to what my body is telling me and what those around me are sharing, there’s a good chance the attacks will come back. This is exactly what happened yesterday.
Things don’t always go to plan
Whenever I am in the middle of an extremely intense moment of anxiety or depression (or the lovely cocktail that includes both simultaneously), I always tell myself that I’m going to record my thoughts down in that exact moment. I want to be able to remember the feelings I am having so that later I can be able to look back at them with a calmer mind and help prepare myself for when the next time comes. However, instead of choosing that mature and healthy approach towards self-care, I often turn to my tried and true method of curling into a ball on the couch, eating a tub of ice cream, and watching some random show for like 6 hours. So which did I do yesterday? Which approach did I finally take on in preparation for this blog??? The ice cream one…yea, unfortunately, it always seems to be the ice cream one. I went to sleep early hoping that some rest would allow me to reset and start over fresh in the morning. Instead, I woke up from another night of intense dreams covering the wide spectrum of strange medical diagnoses, being framed for murder, and of course the classic “forgot to study for the pop quiz.” It looks again like this one momentary event of panic will linger around and affect the next few days of my week…yippee.
Small reminders to get you through
If I’m being honest, I don’t have the energy to wrap this whole thing into a nice little bow. I only have the energy to hit the “Skip Ad” button on Youtube right now. I did, however, want to at least share some positive thoughts with you. Ones that I write not because they will “fix” anything, but just as a reminder that even when we feel like crap, we’re not alone in our struggles, our insecurities, and on our ice cream stained couch (ok the last one may be specific to me).
So here are some reminders from one boy trying to figure it out to all of you dear friends:
Sure life is short, but let’s not forget that it’s also long.
If we try and force ourselves to follow a strict regimen to get where we want to go, it often just leads to a lot of stress, very little sleep, and a whole lot of experiences missed out.
This sounds dumb I know but think about it. Sometimes just closing your eyes and taking slow deep breaths is awesome. Maybe one of the more underrated activities there is. If you don’t believe me, try it.
Go online and look up videos under the following categories:
“Babies laughing,” “old people dancing,” and “unlikely animal friends.” They will show you what unhindered joy looks like. Something I think we could all use a little reminder in.
If you’re having a rough day, just remember that even the smartest, most successful people in this world have accidentally “pushed” instead of “pulled” when going through a door. That should bring us all some relief.
You are not alone.
Everyone feels insecure. Everyone feels inadequate. So in moments where you think you’re missing something that everyone else has, just remember that we all struggle. You’re stronger than you think.
Now excuse me friends, I have an ice cream spoon with my name on it.
A few words about me
Before I co-started this podcast I looked at where I was in my life and was embarrassed because I felt I was falling behind. Now, I’ve come to realize we all fight these feelings. My hope is by spreading this message, we’ll all learn how to be more compassionate to each other and ourselves.