At one point, there were so many panic attacks, I actually started having panic attacks for fear of an oncoming panic attack!
It was a circle I couldn’t get out of…without help.
I’m still not sure what started it but around the time my oldest was a toddler, things started spiralling…it came from nowhere.
I would start to feel a tightness, a discomfort…the turtleneck sweaters I always wore would choke me. I’d pull at the fabric on my throat to try to buy myself a little room until it eventually took over.
Things spun. I felt sick. My face tingled. I overheated. My heart pounded from my chest and my head whirled with every imaginable bit of garbage one could possibly conjure!
It completely took over.
There were times I felt as if I were outside of my body…watching it happen.
I was paralyzed with fear.
Eventually, when I was dealing with three and four per day, I sought help and was diagnosed with “mild to moderate panic disorder.” I was placed on three medications, including Valium, until I got to the point that I could finally get through a day without losing control.
I spent six months on meds…then three months coming off. I learned various coping mechanisms that I still use to this day.
But it’s rare for me to speak of it.
Because of the stigma.
While my fears were completely irrational, they were still my horrible fears that controlled me to the point where the panic attacks themselves became the biggest fear of all.
But I’m lucky. I know my triggers.
What was once all-consuming is now a glimmer from my past. There are moments when I feel it but with breathing, mind exercises, persistence and patience…I can, for the most part, work my way through.
A few years ago, during my divorce, the panic attacks resurfaced but with much, much work…I kept them at bay. It was a reminder that they’re always there. Just a little behind me. When I’m tired, stressed or particularly overwhelmed…I’m careful. I control them.
They no longer control me.
– – – – –
Today is Bell “Let’s Talk Day,” an annual event when Canadians, from coast to coast, hold conversations about mental health to try to end the stigma around mental illness. Join in the conversation…Let’s talk. #BellLetsTalk