Hello friends of the Internet,
Here’s the thing about mental health – just when you think that you’re doing fine, something happens to set you right back to square one.
It was May 1st and I met one of my best friends. It was a beautiful day, so we were outside most of the time. There was a small event in honor of the 1st of May in the city, so we decided to go. At first, everything was fine; I was having one of the best days in a long time, I felt at ease and happy to be talking with my friend. All in all, I couldn’t have imagined that things would go so wrong from there on out.
We decided to check out the event and grab some drinks. There were a couple of bands playing, so we watched them for a while before deciding to head to the theme park located a few steps away from the event. The grounds were packed, probably due to the event and it being such a nice day.
We walked to the direction of the theme park and I started to feel a little overwhelmed by all of the people. The further we disappeared into the crowds and crowds of people, the more uncomfortable I started to feel. It got to a point where I felt light-headed, disoriented and unable to breath properly. My head was spinning, my thoughts were racing, my vision was blurred and there was a ringing sound in my ears.
To be honest, I am not sure how I got out of the crowds (my memory always goes a little foggy when I have a panic attack) – all I know is that I was clutching onto my friend at one point, gasping for air, trying to calm myself down. My friend, being no stranger to panic attacks herself, gave me the space I needed to feel like I was in control of my body again.
Affecting every person differently, there’s not a certain formula to overcoming panic attacks. I know some people who like to be touched or hugged when they have one but personally I need the people around em to give me space (until I initiate contact). The trick to my panic attacks is finding something to hold onto mentally, so usually I will say my name (or something else) over and over again in my head until I am able to focus again.
After that day, I suffered another panic attack two weeks later. Both of these experiences definitely took a toll on my mental health this month, as I felt like all the progress that had been made was lost. But after reflecting a little more, I decided that they were merely a small set-back. After all, mental health is never a straight line.
There will be times where you feel like you’re on top of the world and times where you feel completely out of control.
And though it is a scary feeling, to feel no control whatsoever, I have learnt to cope with it and adapt over time. Thinking back to my first few panic attacks, I have learnt to deal with them a lot better. I am gradually understanding them more and more and know what techniques help me (and which ones don’t). And that in itself is a big accomplishment, one I should give myself credit for.
And if you, dear reader, suffer from panic attacks or something similar, just remember to cut yourself some slack. Any type of progress is progress. With each set-back you will gain something in return, be it knowledge, understanding or something else.