About six months ago I started having panic attacks for the first time in my life. I started my mental health journey at 14 years old and I am turning 23 this year, I have never experienced something so utterly terrifying in my entire existence. It is literally like shooting up pure fear into your veins. It is like taking six hits of acid and being told you’re about to die.
It starts for me as this sick, twisting and flighty feeling deep in my gut. If I pay attention to it, the feeling grows and grows until I can no longer contain it and I feel like I am about simultaneously pass out, go insane and die. I have classic panic attacks.
I haven’t had a proper holiday for many years for different reasons, mainly because I am not very wealthy. Last year we decided to purchase tickets to Falls Festival, which is a music festival held over New Years that I have attended before in 2014 so I wasn’t too nervous about what might happen with my Borderline and panic attacks. I had them under control for about a month before we left for Falls Festival and I was insanely excited to see some of my favourite bands live and get away from normal life for a few days. Have some fun.
I lasted at Falls Festival for a few hours. We had a few drinks and I started panicking. I honestly can barely even remember what happened I just know it was terrible; when I came back to my body it was night-time instead of day. I was absolutely inconsolable and I ended up kicking the windscreen of our car with both of my feet. I smashed the glass badly but didn’t smash it all the way out --thankfully. We went home and I had three panic attacks in the three hour drive back to the farm.
The week following was awful. I hated myself for ruining our trip and wasting time and money. I hated myself for missing the bands and not being normal. I hated myself for so many reasons I couldn’t change. Then I stopped putting pressure on myself to be something I am not. I could handle it three years earlier but am in a very different place now. I can’t tell you if it is better or worse but despite this incident, I would be leaning towards better. I am true to myself now, I don’t hide from my problems I embrace them which sometimes leads to very intense feelings but I think the way to beat this and to beat panic attacks is to embrace these parts of myself that I really don’t like sometimes. I need to accept myself and accept that I do things sometimes that I am not very proud of. I make colossal mistakes, I burn bridges so easily and I have a lot of unbridled anger in my heart and sometimes it poisons me so completely I think I may just go insane and never return back to reality.
This year I will be working on giving up all mind altering substances. I have done really well, I won’t go into my extensive drug history but suffice to say I have given up many vices and am now left with weed, cigarettes and alcohol. I have a terribly addictive personality and I struggle with anything even remotely addictive like caffeine and sugar. I think a lot of people with Borderline, or any mental illness really; do this, to numb the very intense emotions we feel or to bring us out of the emptiness. I just know that I am no longer in a position where I can take substances and be confident that I will be okay. I am not confident anymore. I think something really bad might happen and I don’t want to hurt my brain and my body anymore.
I haven’t had a panic attack in a couple of weeks. It has been nice. I have been able to stifle the beginnings of them successfully through sheer willpower and positive self talk. I am trying my best this year to get healthy and to accept myself for who I am.
The methods I use to get through panic attacks include the following:
· Doing the child pose (yoga) and deep breathing there
· Asking myself if anyone has ever died from panic? The answer is no. You can’t faint from an increased heart rate so I won’t faint. And panic won’t make me insane. Anxiety doesn’t make you insane. This will pass.
· Brushing my teeth and cleaning my face
· Cleaning the house
· Jumping jacks
· Going for a very brisk walk/jog
· Chanting and talking to myself out loud
· Eating something sweet
· Smoking weed
If you are going through this same thing or you ever have been through having panic attacks – I FEEL YOU and I LOVE YOU. It is the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with, including my trauma. Trauma is completely different; your brain protects you from it. Panic attacks feel like your brain and body is attacking you. We can beat them, it isn’t going to be easy but nothing ever is. It will be worth it in the end though, I can promise you that. If you ever need someone to talk to I am always a DM away.