My one and only panic attack…so far

The university I attended was out in the country at the time, and my twin and I were both photography majors. Sometimes it meant landscape photography and sometimes other subjects, but during our landscape class, a few times we wandered the grounds instead of driving to a park.

One such time, I remember hearing a loud noise past a clearing we were exploring, and I couldn’t determine the source of it. I thought it might be a stray cat or something. So, I went looking for it, and I had better than 20/20 vision at the time. I didn’t see a cat. I kept looking, wandering through the underbrush until I saw a wasp nibbling on a cactus leaf. The noises were exactly in time with the bites the wasp was taking, and the wasp was about 20 feet away from me.

Realizing that it was unusual to hear a noise like that so loudly, I suddenly became hyper-aware of everything around me. Every sound was amplified and I could hear and sense every living thing in the vicinity. An overwhelming sense of dread then settled on me, and I only knew I had to get out of there. I was in danger if I stayed. The worst part was that I had to walk back to campus through the wooded grounds, and I was nearly immobilized from fear. Eventually, I just fled. My feet began to work and I ran.

Somehow, I knew this was irrational and not based in reality, but my emotions were so strong and so vivid that I remember this now, about 25 years later. Thankfully, I haven’t had another incident like that since, although I do suffer from anxiety. Most of the time, I might have an anxiety attack, but not on the same level as a panic attack, where I feel my life is at risk. By now, I’m on medication, and it seems to be working, at least.

I guess the point is just that I was afraid to seek help, afraid of how my family would treat me and how others might shame me. But it was necessary and helped me through some tough times. My family, luckily, were supportive. But I know others aren’t as lucky. But getting help is the only way you will survive. Getting help means feeling less fear, less anger, less sadness. You’re better able to cope with stress when it comes. There may even be resources for support. It’s worth it. I feel like I got my life back. I’m me again.

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