What It's Like To Have A Panic Attack

I had my first panic attack in the middle of math class.

It felt almost as if I was breathing through a plastic bag. I couldn’t tell if my heart was slowing down or speeding up.

I sat with the heels of my feet resting on the edge of my chair.
I stared at the clock in a state of helplessness, wondering how many minutes it would last.
I listened to my favorite song by my favorite band on repeat through a single headphone in hopes of calming the hell down.

I thought about calling my best friend.
I thought about leaving the room.
Then I thought about riding it out in hopes of getting some insight on what exactly it is that I’m so afraid of.

I thought about a lot of things over those twenty-three minutes of debilitating worry. I thought about school, a lot. I thought about failure and contrite, happiness and love, the difference between what’s real and what isn’t. I thought of my job and my career and whether or not I’ll even get that far. I thought about my friends and my family, my future and my past, my body and my mirror. I thought about why I feel as if I can never please myself or if I’ve ever managed to please anybody else. I thought about everything that can go wrong, then what comes after that. then I thought about things that haven’t even happened yet.
I thought twenty-three years worth of things in twenty-three minutes.

I thought about how many people this happens to and how many people think we’re wrong for feeling this way -- how many people are going to tell me that I need drugs and how many people are going to tell me I’m making this all up in my head. I wondered why this started happening on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon or how selfish I am for feeling like this. I wondered if at what point in life all this stress disappears, or if anyone ever really maintains their bliss.

Then I wondered how many albums I have to listen to before I feel understood or how many words I’ll write until I feel at peace. I wondered if all my passion was placed in the right places and if I’ll ever be brave enough to have my name printed on a book spine. I thought about how many stories I have to tell and wondered why I’m so afraid to tell them or their significance if I do.

I thought about how my mind was miles away, but it was traveling in the wrong direction. I wondered why the world was such a scary place, but then I noticed that the future hasn’t even happened yet, and when it does, well I'll figure it out when I get there.

I thought about whatever this world is that I’m stuck in, and what I can do to make it beautiful. I wondered about how extraordinary it could be if I would just let it get there. I realized how much better life could be if I took all this panic and gave it a hopeful undertone. Then I listened to ‘Up We Go’ by LIGHTS and she told me that there are always darker days before brighter ones and I believed her.

I had an anxiety attack in the middle of math class for twenty-three minutes; I came to terms with the fact that I’m a bit strange and a little bit manic. Then I realized that I’m not alone in this deranged, crazy world and neither are you.

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