Panic attacks are rough, let me tell you that. Like nothing I have ever experienced. They are something I have suffered with infrequently from the age of about 18 and every time one appears, you think you know how to deal with it… You absolutely do not know how to deal with it.
It’s party time
The latest one came at a party celebrating my birthday at the weekend. My wife and I had been planning this for months, well mostly planned by her, I had sent some invites out. When I tell you it is the happiest I have been since my wedding day, I mean it. My family and friends were all there and I was completely full with love and appreciation. Turns out that can be a little (or tremendously) overwhelming.
I was standing up in front of everyone, really taking it all in and the walls started to feel like they were closing in on me, I turned to look at Jess and I knew that I needed to get out of there right away! I left the building and felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. It felt like a weight was on my chest.
Completely filled with a happiness that is rarely achievable, I could not stop crying and I could not face the people who loved me the most. I was surrounded by my most cherished loved ones but I have never felt more alone.
What’s up, doc?
I’ve had panic attacks in the past for a variety of reasons. Whether I am at height, which is where I do most of my panicking, following a night out for my 20th birthday, or after completing the Bournemouth Half Marathon, I can always see the root cause.
It is usually fixed by removing the issue. Leaving the high place, stopping drinking or stopping running… Panic attack over. Saturday night however, was not such an easy fix. They say the quickest way to calm down during a panic attack is through deep breaths and removing the situation causing your issue. While I will advocate there is no manual on how to stop these moments, removing myself from a party for me that I had waited for since Lockdown 2020 was not going to happen.
You’re never alone
It is said that you never know what a person is feeling, that the outside does not necessarily reflect the inside. I spent Saturday in a near constant state of panic for about 2 hours of a 5 hour event. I smiled, I laughed, I joined in the fun and I maintained a state of blind panic which other people probably wouldn’t have even noticed.
I have always heard about imposter syndrome when it relates to peoples’ roles in the workplace. I have never felt that because I feel I have earned everything through hard work. However, that cannot be said about my relationships in life. I feel like I am in a constant battle with my own brain, fighting to feel like I am a priority to others, that people actually like me. So, when you pull together a room of my nearest and dearest, surely that would all go away? Well that or you run out of the party, leaving behind your metaphorical shoe before you turn back into a pumpkin!
If you are ever in a state of panic, just remember the immortal words of The Cat in the Hat: “Today you are you, that is truer than true there is no one alive who is youer than you”.
A panic attack will never stop me, nothing will, I know that I am stronger than I will ever be able to comprehend and it is through my moments of weakness that I am at my most resilient!