Blog,  Health

Mental Health Awareness: My First Panic Attack

I will never ever forget my first panic attack. It caught me completely off guard. I wasn’t even actively anxious about anything. I was just sitting at the kitchen counter. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced.

Suddenly my heart was racing, I had intense pain in my chest, I couldn’t breathe, I heard a ringing in my ears and it felt like the entire world was sitting on top of my shoulders. I had no control and I felt stuck in some kind of invisible pressure bubble with no way to escape.

It probably only lasted about 30 seconds, but it felt like hours. It was absolutely terrifying. As soon as I was able, I called my husband at work sobbing. He quickly said he was coming home, but I told him not to. I wasn’t in any real danger, it just really scared me.

So that’s when I did the worst thing you can possibly do after you have a panic attack: I sat there and worried about when the next one would happen.

DUMBEST. MOVE. EVER.

I sat there on high alert for the rest of the afternoon, waiting anxiously for the next one to occur. My entire body was exhausted from sitting at attention all day.

My friend was having a jewelry party that evening and I told my husband I wasn’t going. I didn’t know what triggered the first one and I definitely didn’t want it to happen in front of anyone. He encouraged me to go and have fun with my friend and relax. He thought it would do me some good. I wasn’t convinced. He basically ended up throwing me out of the house because I was too afraid.

Fortunately, I didn’t have another attack that night and it would be a couple of weeks before the next one hit. It’s still frustrating especially when I don’t know one is about to come on. Sometimes I do now. I can feel myself getting wound up. I have medicine I can take when I feel one coming on to help relax me.

I actually told my therapist I was worried about taking the medicine because I didn’t want to depend on it. He smiled kindly and said people like me don’t become dependent on drugs because we are constantly aware of what we are putting into our bodies. He told me not to resist taking the medication because that was only creating more anxiety.

As I’ve continued to work through talk therapy and my new medicine is working fully in my system, I’m proud to say I rarely have panic attacks anymore. I still keep my medicine stocked in the event I need it and take it when necessary, as prescribed.

Do You Need To Talk to Someone?

If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call 911, go to the nearest emergency room, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center or text MHA to 741741 at the Crisis Text Line.

More resources here on how you can help a suicidal friend.