The first time I felt the icy prick of panic was during the summer, in a restaurant with my family. The hairs stood on my neck and back, I was shaking, my body was chilly, but sweating with fear. Terror trickled down my spine. I struggled to breathe. My stomach flipped around and tied in knots. I sipped at my water, proving to myself that I could swallow, that I wasn’t dying. The room seemed to shrink and spin around me, as though I was Alice, following down the Rabbit Hole. I just wanted it to stop, but waves of anxiety, thoughts of dread, physical manifestations of horrible thoughts hit me again and again. I thought I was dying, but there I was, living in a world, seemingly going in slow motion.
I excused myself from the table and moved toward the bathroom. My legs were heavy, my back was sweaty, my palms were wet and cold. I remember thinking, “I just want to be home. If I were home this would not happen. Home is safe. It would be easier to just die.” (All of those negative brain pathways that were carved into my brain with these thoughts had to be stretched, expanded, and changed in order for me to grow).
Years later, I can recognize that moment as my first panic attack. Out for a casual dinner with my loving family, at a restaurant in our favorite beach town. I wish I could say it was also my last, but, mental health (in my case), is something I needed to work on, understand, and work with rather than wish it away.
Panic disorder could have ruined my life if I let it, but thanks to persistence, grit, and a village of support, I have the upper hand when it comes to moments of anxiety. I will write more and often about my experiences with my mental health, but I am extremely grateful for those low and scary moments in my life. I am not quite sure without working through fear, I would appreciate joy, happy, and positive so much in my life.
I am high in the Rocky Mountains of Vail, Colorado, indebted to my mind for enduring the tough times and learning about myself and my body. I am overcome with gratitude for every experience I have and will have.
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