Knowing that this week I’m going to start studying Abnormal Psychology reminded me of something I have been thinking of posting on this blog for more than a week and, as you’ve probably guessed from the title, it’s all about my experience with panic attacks.
It’s funny, because when I had these so-called panic attacks, I actually didn’t believe they were panic attacks, because although I believe in mental disorders and most likely to sympathize with those suffering from it, I couldn’t accept the fact that I, personally, could seriously develop one of any psychological symptoms.
Actually, the last panic attack I had was on the 3rd January 2010, which is quite a long time ago. So yeah, no panic disorder or agoraphobia!
So four years ago, I thought I had some respiratory problems, since I had these panic attacks, not regularly, but often to the point that I knew exactly what was happening to me when it happened and what I had to do to resolve it (which was to drink water). It was only last Saturday that, on reading the panic attack symptoms multiple times, I realised what I genuinely had.
It is a relief to know actually, because I always thought I had some kind of rare disease… when in fact it’s the opposite!
The only scary thing is that even if I only remember my last 2 panic attacks, I KNOW that they were not the only 2 that happened and I thus can’t recall the first time I ever had one and how I was able to figure out how to cope with it. One thing I know for sure is that my parents only found out about it during my last one… so I coped with all the others alone. Freaky.
Anyway, I know there are many people out there who have experience panic attacks and I’ve wanted to write this post to tell you that I know that horrible terror, that fear and helplessness, but also that it’s all right and we’re not aliens.
I also want to share my last 2 panic attacks, since they’re the only ones I remember, because I know that although they are all typically the same, they are still different to the one suffering from them. Every time.
1. How I know that the first of the two occurrences that I remember is not my first panic attack relies on how I responded to the panic attack in question. Let me clarify: it was in the middle of the night, while I was Scout camping (in a tent in nature) with my fellow mates. I suddenly woke up choking, struggling to speak but unable to, drawing quick survival breaths, feeling both paralyzed and incredibly restless. My friends woke up at once and on seeing me started to panic, although it was clear they wanted to help. They asked me what was going on and what I needed. Of course, since I couldn’t speak, my mind could only focus on the last question and I knew I needed water, because at that moment I knew that whatever I was experiencing wasn’t a new thing and I knew I needed water to calm down. No first-time-panics. Only the panic attack and the trying to reach out to a bottle of water and ‘mouthing’ the term ‘de l’eau’ (‘water’ in French), something which my friends immediately understood. Thus I was given water and I was fine. I also remember how their eyes were so wide-stricken with fear and when they asked me what it was, I recall my answer word for word: “Oh I don’t really know but it’s nothing really; it actually happens from time to time. I usually only need water and I’m fine.” Maybe I had dehydration problems or respiratory problems or both, but I never though of ‘panic attack’, and for sure, I had this weird way of accepting this horrible sensation as a part of myself…
2. The last time I had a panic attack I was at home. I was actually stuck in bed because of fever and flu… well I was pretty bad, and the reason I was in such a condition was because I purposefully went out (it was a Saturday) although I wasn’t feeling well in the morning. It was my last day as a scout member and I had this urge to see my friends one last time, you see. Anyway, so I was in bed and both my parents were here with me, I think they were getting some medication ready for me or something. Then, the attack happened. And it was the very first time my parents witnessed one of these. By the way, I think that I never told my parents about it because I didn’t feel it was really urgent or serious. Anyway, the worst thing during that particular attack. was it was my very very worst panic attack ever. This time, it was so intense I really thought that I was going to die if I didn’t sip water in time. Yeah, I felt like a bomb, ready to go off at any second. I had no idea how much time was left for me. I really started to panic, more than before, but… my parents didn’t do anything!!! They were so shocked that they were paralyzed as much as I was. And although I know I shouldn’t have felt that way, I was completely furious because I blamed them for not reacting quickly and giving me water. (Well they did finally understood that I needed water by the way I was frantically trying to say ‘de l’eau’!)
Actually I believed and I still believe that I was so angry that my panic attacks totally stopped! The thing is that on that last occurrence a new fear sprouted: that of being left alone in the middle of a crowd, which was watching me suffer and did nothing to help me. I had a similar dream when I was young and on that Saturday it just felt that the dream was coming true except that instead of a crowd there were my parents… which was worse!
Anyway, that’s my panic attack story.
Have a nice weekend!
An Evil Nymph.