It's currently 2:27am and I am having a panic attack.
I have been suffering from these "panic" attacks since around three years ago. However, this year they started to become more frequent than ever before, and it has hit me hard. This isn't a post for your sympathy, but more about telling y ou about my experiences and sharing some advice which may help you in some way.
They can happen at any point, sometimes expected and others completely out of the blue. Those out of the blue ones are the worst; you think you're in a good place and then something hits you and triggers your mind into overthinking every minute of that day or a certain moment in your life which has had an affect on your mindset. At the moment I am having a lot of these 'out of the blue' panic attacks and truth be told they're not ideal.
There's four things that I can think of which contribute to me having these attacks, there's probably more but these are the main causes and the biggest pains in my butt right now.
Overthinking is a motherf*cker. It is the main cause for every panic attack I have ever had. I get myself into a state where I start panicking about an event which isn't for another two weeks. TWO WEEKS. Yes, it gets that far down the line. Take this example; I am walking to a lecture, I don't have any distractions around me so what do I start to do? Overthinking every possible outcome of the next two hours. What if I have to talk in front of the class? What if I have an anxiety attack there and then? What if I draw attention to myself for no reason? What if I do something wrong? It's all these what if's! So what if I didn't think like this? Would it all go away? How do I stop myself thinking that way? Honestly, I don't know. All I know is how to keep myself calm and that is to distract myself in any way possible. The biggest distraction is friends, people - socialising. Having a conversation is my way out of that overthinking phase. Maybe it's different for others, but ask yourself if the feeling of being anxious and scared all goes away once you're with your nearest and dearest, do you find your mental state in a completely different place, possibly disappeared altogether? I don't get it.
Oh what I'd do to have a good eight hours sleep someday. I'd say it's been a good few years since I've had that much sleep in one go and that's because of my mental health, sadly. The main reason for this is because my mind realises it has time to think about everything that I've done that day, events I have coming up, assignments I have to start, grades I've recently achieved, something I've done wrong in the past (that maybe happened six years ago)...literally anything. My mind now has its time to properly think about anything which can cause my anxiety to strike up on me. So relating to the above, overthinking is a motherf*cker.
I'd say this is the worst part but they're all as bad as each other I guess. My panic attacks begin and end with feeling scared. Some of the thoughts I've had in the past haven't been pleasant and it scares the hell out of me that I am able to think that way. How your mind is able to think that negatively about yourself, your body, your health, your mind - why does that happen? I feel the fear building up in many situations, as simple as going to a shop, walking to university, or even going round a friends. It's the fear of the unknown. You don't know what could happen in that short time and you don't want to find out. I've had times where I've cancelled/avoided/turned down days out because I don't know anything about the place we're going to, I don't know how long we will be out for, I don't know what could happen, and if something does happen I will be humiliated. This fear eventually leads to my becoming an emotional wreck, which usually triggers the panic attacks. I become breathless, with tears running down my pale cheeks, palms becoming sweaty and occasionally start shaking uncontrollably. It just keeps getting worse really.
And finally, this is all a struggle. For your mind, your body and your health. It's the reason why you're feeling wiped out 24/7, it's the reason you can't focus on work, it's the reason you decide to skip meals in the day. I actually got to a point in China where I wasn't eating a thing (not even snacks) until 6 in the evening. That's practically a whole day without food, and I was living like it for a good few months. Mental health is a massive struggle. Yes it is a struggle but it's our responsibility to tell ourselves it will all be okay. You aren't alone in this, you can get help, and start the process of recovery. Your mind needs to hear it from yourself that it will all work out. Hearing it from others is great support, but it just means you're lying to yourself if you don't let yourself know it'll be okay. So do it right now. Tell yourself it'll be okay. There will be struggles along the way but you can do it. I've struggled to believe all this in the past, but writing it all down is motivating me to have confidence to achieve it, and hearing it from yourself and others is the biggest relief.
There have been a lot of unanswered questions in this post and that's because I want them to become answered. We all want them to be answered by someone someday. Mental health is becoming more and more noticed and talked about these days and I'm so thankful I have the resources today to get help and understand what is happening and why it's happening, but we still have a long way to go. For now, I'm thankful that I'm here and getting the help I need.