*Disclaimer: This might trigger some, so please read at your discretion.
I’m writing this on one of my more anxious days and feeling unsure about posting this. However, I feel that I should just in case someone out there sees it. I want that person to know they are not alone. I have never experienced anxiety in this way before. This is partly why I’m scared to post this. The Internet is a harsh place and I’m afraid if I share my story, someone might think I’m being fake or my story isn’t true. I’m here to tell you that my story is true and I’m posting this in spite of all those people who think otherwise.
Like I said, I’ve never experienced anxiety in this way before. The only type of anxiety I’ve experienced is test anxiety, which is a whole other breed. To be honest, I don’t really know what triggered my anxiety this morning. All I know is that it woke me up at about 6 am-ish and I couldn’t get back to sleep. That’s the thing about anxiety, and something I’m learning, you never truly know what is going to trigger it. I’m learning some people have one trigger and others might have several. I am the person still learning what triggers mine. So far, I’ve had inklings of what my triggers are but no definitive answer. I’m also learning how to cope with it and how to come out of my anxiety, if that makes sense.
I know I haven’t gotten to the elephant in the room yet, but I really wanted to talk about just the anxiety I have experienced first. I am now going to back up and talk about my panic attack. Like it says in the title of this post, I experienced my first panic attack. It was scary and in the midst of it, I wasn’t sure that I was having a panic attack. Honestly, I thought I was truly dying. This was something I realized towards the end of it. Let me back up a tiny bit more and explain how I was feeling prior to the day it happened. For about two days before, I was feeling very off. Mentally, physically, just off. My heart, I mind you for two days straight before, was doing this weird skippy beat thing and it had me worried. Now looking back on it (hindsight is always 20/20), I’m thinking that was a tell tale sign. The thing is, there is a family medical history of heart related issues. This is why this heart thing I was experiencing had me on edge.
Here comes the day of. I was still feeling this heart thing and then it ramped up. At 1:00 am in the morning a few months back, the panic set in. I was awoken by it and could not calm down. I couldn’t get back to sleep. I felt like I couldn’t do anything. I literally paced my room from 1 am to about 6 am-ish. I tried everything to calm myself down, from breathing to watching tv. Nothing seemed to help. At this point, I didn’t know what my coping mechanisms were. It was my first panic attack and like I said, I didn’t even know I was having one. Finally, at that 6 am mark I texted my brother. I heard he was up and I knew that he would understand.
Here’s the thing, in about his early 20s he experienced the same thing I had just went through. This is why I knew he would understand and know how to calm me down. I want to back up a bit here and explain that right now I am living with my parents and my brother had been home from college for the summer (well, since about March because of Covid). I needed to explain this so you could understand what I’m going to say next. So, where was I? Oh yea! I texted my brother and told him I think I’m having a panic attack. Two seconds later, he texts back “Do you need me to come down there?” I immediately texted yes. The minute he walked through my door, I broke into tears and hugged him. It turns out that I just needed someone there for me. I needed someone there to tell me everything is going to be okay. That person for me was my brother. Ooooph! I’m getting emotional just typing this out. I told him I texted him because I didn’t want to wake my parents and worry them. He said that was okay. See, even in the midst of this I was worried about others. That’s just how I have always been. Sorry, that was a random thought.
My brother sat with me for awhile while I calmed down. He checked my pulse because my heart was racing. He wanted to make sure I was going to be okay before he went back upstairs. He told me to keep watching tv and try and get some sleep. I said earlier that I tried watching tv to calm myself down. Well, that something I watched was Miranda. This show helped me cope that day. It took my mind off everything that happened earlier. Those are the people who I credit for helping me that day. My brother and Miranda Hart. Oh and my very best friend, SLEEP.
Now, you may be wondering if I told my parents. I’m here to tell you that yes, I did tell my parents. We all sat down to dinner and I told them. They reacted as I thought they would. My dad overreacted just a bit; that’s just how he is. My mom reacted as I thought she would. She is a very reserved person, much like myself, but I knew she was worried too. I told them all the details and explained to them that I’m okay and that this just might be a part of my life from now on. Turns out I was right. Anxiety is just a part of my life now. Actually, it’s probably always been part of my life. In fact, my brother made a good point. He said that you probably have always dealt with it. He really changed my mindset on the subject. I just think now that I’m older, I have become more attuned to my body and mind and that makes me more aware of the anxiety.
I just want to add that we are all experiencing new normals during this pandemic time and how you feel is valid. Let me repeat that. All the feelings you’re feeling are valid! Please know that you are not alone. There are a lot of resources out there. Here is a video that helped me understand more about anxiety.