- Break the stigma.
- Depression exists.
- Panic and anxiety disorder is not an overreaction or exaggeration on stress.
Before explaining what it feels like, we should first know what a panic attack is and why it happens. According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America or ADAA, a panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes. It usually happens when a person suddenly experience an episode of intense anxiety and fear that triggers physical reactions without any apparent reason.
The first time I had a panic attack was when I was sixteen or seventeen, I was a sophomore in college. We were required to create our own newspaper, write our own articles, capture our own pictures and print out a hundred copies. To say that it was stressful was an understatement, we have other classes and other requirements to do in order to pass the semester. We were seven in a group but only four of us were doing all the work.
I was writing three articles each for the other three who weren’t willing to do the work. I kept thinking that if they don’t want to do it properly, might as well just do it myself. There was also a rumor going around that if we fail this class, we are not allowed to get an internship that upcoming summer. Also, if you don’t get an internship that summer, you can’t graduate on time on April 2017.
I was so terrified that I may not graduate the same year as my batch mates because I was carrying the burden of the work that my other group mates didn’t want to do. I was writing an article when I thought about the disappointment that my mom would feel when she finds out that I failed this class, when she finds out that I couldn’t get an internship and when she finds out that I may not graduate on 2017.
When her disappointed face flashed on my mind, I broke down. I started crying, my heart pounding against my chest like it was going to explode any moment. I started to feel like a tight rope was being tied around my neck, effectively choking me. I started hitting my chest, trying to get rid of the pain growing. I fell face down on my bed, feeling tingling sensations around my numbing fingers and on the back of my head.
“What is going on?”
“Am I going crazy?”
“Am I dying?”
Those were the three questions on my mind while those things were happening. With a dry throat, I even tried to scream for help but I was home alone and nobody couldn’t hear me. I started trying to make myself feel better, calming myself down. But nothing was working. Until, I suddenly felt like I blacked out but I know that I was still inside my body, I just couldn’t feel anything.
Then, it stopped. My heart started calming down and I began breathing normally. Although I was still scared, I was glad that it stopped. I wanted to tell my mom what happened but it was embarrassing. I don’t want people to think that I am overacting and just exaggerating the stress and pressure that I was going through. I was scared to hear that I was just being dramatic. So I didn’t tell anyone.
And I hope, with the proper and increased education about mental health, that people will feel more comfortable talking about their own experiences and to discuss what they have gone through to a professional and seek treatment (psychotherapy, medication and etc.)
If you are one of those people, feel free to talk about your own experiences and look for appropriate medical care.
You are not alone. You are going to be okay.