My Struggle

June 19, 2012

I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not I want to write this post. I’m terrified. I’ve heard so many people say that they don’t like reading posts that aren’t 100% positive, so if you’re that person… please click the red ‘X’ in the top right corner. I’m about to get REAL.

When I was twelve years old, it happened for the first time. I was sitting in my church’s Wednesday night youth service. The youth pastor said he wanted to talk about something that God had laid on his heart– death. This scared the ever-living daylights out of me because it was something I had been thinking about as well. I’d never had a family member pass away so it wasn’t something I thought about often, but for some reason it had been on my mind. All of a sudden, my entire body went numb. I felt cramped, and I needed to get somewhere else… and fast.

I got up, casually walked to the bathroom, and locked myself in a stall. I had no clue what was going on, but I just felt very… aware of myself and my surroundings. My chest got tight and it felt like I was in a state of panic, but for no reason. I stayed there for (what I felt was) way too long and instead of going back into the classroom, I went into the office and called my dad to come pick me up.

I felt so embarrassed by what had happened that I never again went to that church. I didn’t want anyone to ask why I left because I no idea what to tell them. All I knew was that I got very “scared” all of a sudden. I tried to explain it to my dad, but he just didn’t understand what I was afraid of. I didn’t realize that I had my first panic attack at age 12.

Over the years, I had them on and off. I would get that same tight feeling in my chest and start crying. I would start thinking about how one day, I wouldn’t be alive anymore. It sounds morbid and totally unusual for a teenager to think that way. I had no clue what was happening.

It wasn’t until my senior year of high school in my psychology class did I realize that it might be a panic attack. Our teacher started describing the symptoms and I met every one: numbness, sense or fear of dying, tunnel vision, heavy breathing, a strong urge to flee or escape. For the past 6 years, I’ve struggled with the fact that I might have panic disorder. I have never seen a doctor for it due to reasons that I’d rather not discuss here, but it’s come to the point now where I have to do something about it.

A few days ago when I was driving home from work, all of a sudden I felt completely out of control of my body. All of those old symptoms came back… as I was going 70 mph on the freeway. I got terrified. Over the past two days, I’ve had panic attacks on and off, with one lasting even a few hours.

I’ve had friends who have experienced one or two panic attacks in their lives, but none so often as me. If you know someone in your life experiencing this, please comfort them as much as you can if they ever experience this around you. All they need to know is that everything will be okay.

The main point in writing this post is just to see if there are others out there struggling with this same issue.

Are you one of them?