As a lot of you know it is Mental Health Awareness month. I myself, have had a rough few days. A couple of nights ago I became a complete prisoner in my own mind and suffered one of the worst panic attacks I have had in a long time. I can’t point out the exact reasoning for it but whatever it was, felt like an explosion in my brain. Everyone reacts to these differently. Sometimes I have light experiences that pass and sometimes I have ones that are so extreme that I don’t even want to talk about it afterwards. I usually know that I’m going to have some form of an attack early on because my right hand starts to shake throughout the day. The other day, it stopped shaking at some point and I was okay. I felt fine. I carried on with my day and even did an Instagram live interview regarding Mental Health. I felt as if I was in the clear. Then out of nowhere I had an uncontrollable attack that must have been months of build up that needed to come to surface. It all starts with the thoughts. Thoughts that are not rational that come from out of nowhere. An overflow of thoughts that paralyzed my brain. All of a sudden I could not think straight. My chest got tight, I started to sweat and I felt like my skin was crawling. Then came the stomach issues. I no longer can hold onto what I ate earlier that day. I was in a world where nothing made sense. All I wanted was a hand to hold but at the same time I’d probably reject it if it was in front of me. The only words to describe how I felt was hopeless and helpless. So I just allowed it to consume me until it ran its course.
The day after it took me till 4pm to leave my bed. I forgot to eat. I ended up dragging myself to shower and forcing myself to go out. I had to pick up something from my dads so I ended up taking a long drive. Which helped me a lot. I got to listen to music and felt a slight sense of normalcy being out of the house. I also got to see my dad and my sisters at a social distance. I haven’t seen them in 2 months. So just that alone made me feel a lot better. Even though of course that triggers a fear in itself. Over all yesterday was a good day. All because I pushed myself for it to be a good day. By the end of the night I was absolutely exhausted. However, it was another late night. Luckily I had a friend to talk with to distract my thoughts.
Today is two days post the actual panic attack. Today my body hurts. My brain can’t over think because it’s been hard to form a full thought from exhaustion. Today I only got out of bed for an appointment I had this morning. I then went back to sleep and had breakfast around 3pm. Today was definitely not a day like yesterday. However there are days that after a panic attack that feel as if I can climb mountains. Panic attacks attack people differently. Luckily I don’t get them as often as I did before. I usually push and distract myself from all that’s going on. I do video messages for kids in quarantine or hospitals. I self shoot cosplay stuff. I record my lessons for my students. I really push myself to stay focused on positive things but sometimes this dreaded disorder sneaks up on me.
I usually don’t write about this or talk about it when it happens. I unfortunately bottle a lot up until I explode. I’ll admit sometimes I’m not the best at communicating how I feel. I wouldn’t say I’m a people pleaser but I never want to let anyone I care about down. Most of the time I put everyone before myself. I shove a lot of my insecurities aside into a dark corner until they eventually have to come to light. I don’t take frequent medication for my anxiety because I want to fight this off as healthy as possible. I also do not suppress feelings with alcohol or unhealthy habits. I try to fight it with doing positive things, exercise and directing my attention elsewhere.
I don’t have all the answers but I will tell you some of my coping mechanisms that I use when actually having a panic attack. I try to use the 5 senses method. I think of 5 things I see. I try to list 4 things I can feel while touching them. I think of 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell. Lastly 1 thing I can taste which is usually CBD oil. However I say the word try because it doesn’t always work. For less severe attacks that works like a charm but not all are the same. I also use the headspace app to help me fall asleep. However meditation doesn’t seem help me in the middle of an attack. However I’m always open to new advice.
I wrote this blog to shed light on the gravity of a panic attack. When I have a severe panic attack, it is very much comparable to an earthquake. sometimes the aftershock is almost as bad as the attack itself. Today was my aftershock. I know tomorrow will be different. So that’s okay. I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder so this weather doesn’t help either. Unfortunately I don’t have answers to help cure anyone. If you’re suffering I just want you to know that you’re not alone. I want you to know I understand. You are allowed to fall apart but you have to put yourself back together. You have to keep fighting. You have to push yourself. It is okay to take a break once in a while and be sad, ESPECIALLY now. At a time like this so many more people are experiencing what people go through constantly. So many new cases of anxiety are happening for people who’ve never experienced it. I hope that this will make people realize how serious Mental Health really is and the physical affect it can have on a person. How even people like me that you see on the internet who realistically “have it all” suffer often. I am constantly advocating for Mental Health so I feel the best thing I can do is write about how bad it can affect me sometimes. It’s not easy for me to open up like this. Especially about something that makes me feel ashamed sometimes. Anxiety can make me paranoid, angry and sometimes even scared of my own brain. Its not a comfortable subject. I hate the look of pity people give me when I talk about it. It’s not easy when people constantly tell me to “relax”. That knowing if I could, I would. I am not a person who likes to feel weak. I know that I am strong but anxiety can break me down to a point of begging for reassurance on things I normally wouldn’t need. If you or someone else you know is suffering, please reach out. Just letting them know you are there goes along way. Sometimes all we need is a safe place, a hug or a reassuring tone. I made a promise to be real, raw and open. I started this blog to help shed light on issues like this. So if this helps one person feel less alone, than at least it was worth baring it all. I hope it’s a step closer to breaking the stigma.
For further help you can also contact Mental Health America and call the crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).