Content warning: panic attacks, loss of control, anxiety
I have struggled with anxiety since I was a child, but at the time I was not sure what it was that I was feeling.
The first time I remember feeling anxious was on my first day of school. Most kids around me socialized like normal, and some seemed scared but warmed up to the idea eventually. I, however, did not.
Every day for weeks I would be sent to the nurse’s office. The only way I could describe what I was feeling when I was little was something was not right in my chest, I had a headache, and I couldn’t breathe.
My parents and my teachers assumed I was just shy and wanted to get out of class. This continued every school year until it eventually worsened in high school. I worried about mostly everything in my life. I was stressed out and constantly overthinking everything that occurred, and it felt entirely out of my control, as if my mind worked overtime even when I didn’t want it to.
In high school, my intense panic attacks began. They would come out of nowhere when
I was at school or at home, it didn’t matter the circumstance. Panic attacks make the internal anxiety you struggle with show externally. That is when my parents finally realized I needed to go to a doctor.
Panic attack symptoms vary, but for me, my heart would race so much I would get intense pain in my chest to the point where I went to the hospital out of fear of a heart attack.
Thanks to a therapist, I was eventually diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Talking to a therapist and getting medication was the best thing I could have done for myself.
Telling people that you feel like something is wrong with you is scary. Especially when people may call you “crazy” or “dramatic” for feeling how you feel.
If you do not feel okay, it is important to let somebody know. Going to therapy helped me realize I was not just being “dramatic,” but that I had an actual disorder that can be treated and helped. It is not only normal, but something many people struggle with, which meant I wasn’t alone.
I also learned self-care techniques that greatly helped with my anxiety. I started exercising regularly, eating foods that fueled my body and mind, practicing meditation and journaling, and began to be more mindful.
Being consistent with self-care has prevented panic attacks for 5 years and, hopefully, will continue to do so.