How Having A Panic Attack Helped Me Understand My Brother
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Health and Wellness

How Having A Panic Attack Helped Me Understand My Brother

I can empathize with the anxiety. I get to now.

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How Having A Panic Attack Helped Me Understand My Brother
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While I was in South Africa, I experienced my first "panic attack." I hesitate to say it's a panic attack because it was not exactly what I have heard it described as before, but I don't know what else to call it.

We were in a market, one that we had not planned on going to. However, due to some safety concerns, we had to change our plans. The minute we stepped into the market, we got pulled apart and separated. We hadn't known what to expect. I was lead from booth to booth as I made my purchases. I soon realized that i was running out of money quickly; clearly, bartering was not my strong suit.

As I was lead to the next booth, I was starting to feel really uncomfortable. I just wanted to leave, but found no opportunity to leave without feeling rude. The woman, Memory, was wrapping my purchases while telling me about her products (which were the same as everyone else's). She kept saying, "There's no pressure here" literally as I was feeling the pressure building up further in my chest and lungs. Finally, I told her I was all set and turned, purchases in hand, to leave.

A man was standing behind me, clearly ready to lead me to his stall. I couldn't leave without talking to him. He continuously called me beautiful, and when I said I could not buy anything, that I had no money left, he asked me for any American money, then any spare rands (South African money), and even the watch I was wearing. I kept saying no, but it was like he didn't care. Finally, I was able to get away. My panic was rising; I needed to get out of there. One of the program directors came by, saw me, and helped me outside. When we got outside, I sat down on the curb and immediately broke down crying.

On the ride back to where we were staying, I began to think about the experience. Yes, it was a scary thing for me and I felt very out of control, but there was a positive take away.

My brother suffers from high anxiety, specifically in situations that involve a lot of people or new experiences. He hates being crowds, like malls or stores, which is something I am usually fine with. However, the constant talking and implied pressure of having to buy something was not something that I was used to. But this is something that my brother experiences in his every day life. This, I hope, is a one-time experience. But my brother has to find ways to deal with this while at school or work. I understand how he feels in these situations now. I get what it's like to feel out of control of the situation and feeling the anxiety building up.

So to anyone who has anxiety, I get what you go through now. Maybe not on a larger scale, but I can empathize with the feeling of anxiety and panic. You can get through it. You are strong. You can do it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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