I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first panic attack.
It was my freshman year of college. I was having a girls’ night with my friend Alison. We were in the middle of watching a movie. I was sitting on one bed, and she was sitting on the other. Everything was fine. We had been laughing our asses off to Neil Patrick Harris, eating food, and having a great time.
And then my thoughts turned frightful. I started to be filled with a cold fear. My boyfriend at the time and I had been having trust issues, and I knew that he was hanging out with other girls. I tried to calm myself, but I couldn’t. Cold fear gripped me. One second I was on the bed with chest pains. Before I knew it, I was on the floor, shaking like I was having a seizure.
Alison called in some of my other friends, one of which was Matt, a Pre-Medicine major. I don’t remember much. One thing I do remember, though, was Matt kneeling over me as he took two cold soda cans and placed them on my neck to calm me down. Several other girls on the floor had come by to see what all the fuss was about.
Someone decided to call the police. By the time the cops got there, I had calmed down. When they asked if I wanted to go to the hospital, I turned them down, saying that I “knew how to handle it.” Of course, that was a lie. What the hell had just happened? Sure, I’ve been stressed before, but never to the point that medics had to be called.
Over the course of the next year, I actually did end up taking offers to go to the hospital. I was in the emergency room every other week. Hell, I remember sitting in the emergency room for hours after having a severe panic attack at a church convention. One of the other women who had gone with me to the convention, an education professor at my school, sat with me, rubbing my back and getting me water in an attempt to calm me down.
I was too proud. I never sought help from anyone. I never breathed a word of it to my professors. What if they were the types that didn’t believe that these kinds of issues existed? Instead, I burdened my friends and my boyfriend at the time. I didn’t want to be left alone (my roommate had moved out, leaving me alone at the mercy of my attacks). I was always clinging to someone’s arm.
Over time, however, the symptoms began to… change. The panic attacks lasted longer. I would wake up some days and feel anxious non-stop. Sometimes I would wake up and feel an overbearing sadness or a manic high, instead. I would begin crying for no reason. The symptoms worsened and worsened until I attempted suicide on April 3, 2013 by jumping down a flight of stairs. Of course, I never made it to the stairs themselves. Several of my friends, who had come by to visit me (I hadn’t been out of my room in ages), stopped me. It took several people to hold me back and drag me kicking and screaming back to my room. Someone on the floor who had seen my attempt called the cops. I was taken to the hospital that night and placed on suicide watch. I was released late that night, after insisting that I was all right. I didn’t want my family to see me like this.
The next day, my boyfriend at the time dumped me.
I was stuck in my room after that. I didn’t eat a thing. I didn’t go to class. I don’t think I even remember showering. All I did was wake up, cry, watch comedic YouTube videos in an attempt to make me laugh (to this day, I credit the Nostalgia Critic for essentially saving my life), cry some more, and go to bed.
It was at this point that I realized that I finally needed to accept the help that others were offering to me. My friend Ashley drove down to Morehead from Versailles to stay with me for a week. My friend Tyler drove us to Walmart to pick up food and supplies to have a “girls’ week.” Matt became an even bigger part of my life; he would often come by my room and bring me food. I began to hang out with him more and more, until I found myself falling for him. He asked me out on April 19, roughly two weeks after my attempted suicide, and we’ve been dating ever since. Needless to say, he’s been more than accepting of my journey.
And as for my family? Well, I knew that I couldn’t keep them out of the loop forever; if I was going to get better, I needed to accept their help, too. I told my parents everything: the panic attacks, the depression, the suicide attempt. They were worried, yes, but they stood by me in getting treatment. Even to this day, we don’t see eye to eye on some things (readers of my blog Ravings of a Coffee-Crazed Writer will know what
I mean), but I hope they know that none of this is their fault.
Where am I now?
I am pursuing a degree in English Education. I have a successful, healthy relationship. I have an amazing support group of friends and family. My professors have been more than understanding of my problems. I am much happier than I was back then.
So, why am I going into so much detail about my mental health? Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that one shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if they need it.
Love and Coffee cups,