A Typical Panic Attack, As Told By My Senses

A Typical Panic Attack, As Told By My Senses

It's time to get real and personal.

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Anxiety affects millions of people. Technically, every person experiences anxiety up to some extent in their lives. It might be feeling nervous before a big exam, a concert performance, or a competitive business presentation. For me, anxiety has always been a different story. I had my first panic attack when I was nine years old, sitting in my fifth-grade classroom. I went to the nurse's office because I thought I was sick with something, but little did I know that panic attacks would affect my life for years after that!

Panic attack symptoms vary for every single person. For me, it starts with a horrible, wrenching, worrying feeling deep inside my gut. My hands start to sweat; they get cold, clammy, and chaotic. My vision gets cloudy and blurry, which causes me to feel dizzy and confused. My stomach churns, there are millions of butterflies inside it that flutter, desperately trying to find peace. I feel so sick and worried, I start to hyperventilate and gasp for air. If it's a bad one, my legs restlessly tremble and I dry heave. My mind races rapidly, until it ultimately reaches the finish line. After about thirty to forty-five minutes, I am good. I can breathe again. Everything is fine.

The physical symptoms are not even the hard part about having panic attacks. The hard part is having to deal with it in public when I am busy with other people, or when I am all by myself and feel lost. I get panic attacks during class and work for no reason, because my stress builds up. It's difficult to hide for sure. Luckily, I have amazing people in my life who support and understand me so much, including family, friends, peers. My mom has really been my number one supporter every day and is a great listener. She would do anything for me; I am so grateful. As I grew older, I became a lot more comfortable with being open and talking about my anxiety.

Never judge anyone for their circumstances or how they act, because they may experience the awful feelings and tiresome struggle of panic attacks or anxiety. A lot of people who have met me do not know that I experience multiple panic attacks every day. Some people ask me why I'm jumpy, uptight or leave parties early. A manager at a restaurant I worked at even called me a "spaz" a few years ago. I want the mental health stigma to stop. I'm not afraid to talk about it anymore. What is there to hide?

Panic attacks are like mountain lions or wolves that sneak up on me during very inconvenient times. I realized that they are not dangerous, and are not a threat. For anyone who does struggle with anxiety or panic attacks, this is a wonderful thought to digest. You will be okay, you will get through this! Panic attacks are a real thing. You are stronger than you know. I am confident that one day I will be completely better, and minimize my panic attacks as much as possible. I am almost there. I refuse to fall prey to this lurking predator! My anxiety is not my fault and it does not define me. With the right stepping stones, I'm on my way to eliminating this!

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Speaking As Someone Who Has Attempted It, Suicide Is NOT A Selfish Act

It's selfish to even think that suicide could be selfish.

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Content warning: Suicide.

Recently a discussion was brought up in my Philosophy Morals and Ethics class that I can't seem to quit thinking about. The discussion was on suicide and one of the topics was whether or not the act is selfish or selfless.

A fellow student immediately spoke up and gave her argument for why she believed it was selfish. Including the idea that when one commits suicide, they are just passing on the pain to someone else who was affected by the death.

I immediately began to feel rage.

I understand her feelings were probably brought on because she was affected by someone else committing suicide and this was why she felt so strongly for her to speak on the subject. And as someone who has also been affected by someone else's suicide, I can understand her reasoning.

But speaking as someone who has been affected by my own suicidal thoughts and even attempts, I can't agree with her conclusion.

I've been thinking about this constantly for the past week and have been filled with so much discomfort that her reasoning was so small minded, it pissed me off. How could she sit there and say that it is selfish, of all things, if she hasn't experienced the excruciating pain of the constant battling with yourself over suicidal thoughts and depression?

I was so pissed that she would even be so selfish to say that suicide is selfish.

I began writing this as a "are you f***ing kidding me?!" article. But then my therapist's voice crept in and I was reminded to always consider all sides of all stories. I do not know if she has or has not dealt with her own suicidal thoughts. But if she truly had, could she really be able to just sit there and claim that it was selfish?!

Every single case of suicide and depression are entirely different. But personally, I believe that when someone attempts or commits suicide is because they deeply believe it is what is best for them, and others, and there is no other option. You believe that you are such a burden to those around you that you feel your death would better other's lives.

There is no talking to someone about it, there is no getting better, there is no other option. You are so consumed by the intense dark suffocating thoughts, that you can't see any form of light. You can't see that there is any other way out of the soul-sucking thoughts.

You see death as your only option out of it.

As I know now, that is not the case. There are ways out and you can get better. But that still doesn't make suicide selfish because the pain is passed on to someone else.

Merriam-Webster defines selfish as "seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others," and a selfish act as "arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others."

Seeking well-being for oneself without regard for others.

You can't label suicide as selfish because when you truly battle with it, you know the weight it bears down on you. It steals every last breath you find the strength to take.

You can't label suicide as selfish because, in it, you believe that you are a burden to others and the world would be better off without you in it.

You can't label suicide as selfish because you think that someone ended their own life to hurt those around them.

And it's even selfish of you to even think that you can label it as selfish.

Because if you can't stop to remove the blinding curtains from your own eyes to see how much pain they were in to think that suicide was their only option, for them to feel like they had no one and that they were no one, then that makes you selfish.

Not them.

Suicide is a very real topic and action. And I am not saying that I am an expert on the subject simply because I have stared it in the face and was even unsuccessful at meeting its need.

No, I am not an expert on suicide or depression, but as someone who has drowned in the same waters as about 1,400,000 other people, I feel the need for you to know that it isn't just as simple as black and white.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

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No Matter How Challenging School Gets, You Have To Put Your Health First — A Degree Won't Mean Anything If You're Dead

Panicking and pulling all-nighters will not allow you to get an A.

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Some of the best advice I've ever received was from my social studies teacher in sophomore year of high school. He stated, "If you don't know it at midnight, you're not going to know it for the 8 a.m. exam, so get some sleep."

It's such a simple piece of advice, but it holds so much accuracy and it's something that the majority of college students need to hear and listen to. "All-nighters" are a commonality on college campuses in order to cram in studying for an exam that is typically the next day.

Although it seems like you're obtaining so much valuable information in that period of time, the lack of sleep most likely is causing you to retain little to no information at all. There's a reason that doctors recommend a certain amount of sleep, especially for students, because that's the amount they need to function properly throughout their school day.

Putting aside even half an hour a day to dedicate to that subject could alleviate the pressure you feel right before the exam because you'll feel comfortable and familiar with the material. This could benefit what is known as the mental health portion of the health triangle.

In the eighth grade, my health teacher lectured on for multiple classes about something called the "health triangle." It consists of three components; mental, social, and physical health. The message of the lectures was always that the triangle contains a domino effect, with each part of it affecting the others. If one section is displeased, the others will follow in their footsteps.

This lesson is one I have valued for over five years because while carrying out my everyday activities, I've realized how valid this theory is.

Many college kids feel as though they need to stay inside the library or their dorm during any free time in order to do homework or study. This will negatively affect both the mental and physical aspects of the triangle, therefore throwing everything off. Yes, the majority of a college student's time should be spent performing school-related tasks, but it's important for students to go out and be entertained even an hour per week in order to not completely lose their mind.

By "going out," in no way do I mean parties, bars, or anything related to that. Even something as simple as sitting in your friend's dorm and talking about life for an hour can reboot your brain to prepare it to return to studying.

In terms of the physical segment of the health triangle, many people think of this as just diet and exercise. While that is partly true, it also involves personal hygiene.

Many college kids eat their sorrows away with the junk food that they're surrounded by on campus. Others skip most meals in order to have that extra 20 minutes to study for their midterms. In either case, that isn't good for your body and surely isn't going to help you in your classes. Proper meals give you the energy you need to finish studying for that midterm you have coming up.

I've witnessed so many students walk around campus with their hair unbrushed, haven't showered in days, haven't bothered changing out of their clothes from the previous day, and practicing other gross habits. Trust me when I say that it's okay, and even important, to set aside an hour to practice proper personal hygiene. It will allow you to feel better about yourself and put you in a better mood to get your work done.

Although worrying is inevitable, in no way will it help you get a better grade, but could instead make your grades suffer. We've probably all looked at a test at least once in our lives and completely blanked on all of the answers simply because we were so scared about the grade.

Deducing stress could be helped by all of the advice already stated, time management, office hours, and tutoring. It's okay to ask for help, whether that be from a peer, a teacher, or upperclassmen. College isn't meant to be easy, but there are ways you can make it easier.

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