“OMG I cant breathe!” I sat down on the floor in front of my bed, thinking about how this happened to me. “I don’t get these, I don’t get these, omg wtf”. I was literally freaking out. I had just came home from my Pilates class, opened up some mail and realized that I hadn’t submitted my 60 point homework assignment due the night before. My heart was beating a million beats per second and I started getting light headed.
“Breathe Kira, breathe, ok, ok, calm down, its okay, you’re not going to die”, I started chanting to myself. I managed to gain control of my thoughts and slow my heart rate down. Sitting on that floor, 5 minutes later, I realized that I had just had my FIRST anxiety attack, I thought.
I was only 23 years old and I had a lot going on. I had way too many bills than I could afford. I lived alone in my own house, was still in undergrad, managed to keep a somewhat decent social life, my dog alive, myself alive and a whole lot more. Adulthood hit me fast, and I was overwhelmed. I only seemed okay on the outside, because I had suppressed so much on the inside.
This led me to research what was wrong with me, and work on never letting it happen again. This is what I learned.
When you feel a sudden rush of nerves or high emotion, it’s likely that your body responds in turn. Sweating, shakiness or feelings of nausea, among other things, might occur.
Anxiety is a condition defined as excessive, persisting worry over an imminent event such as death or illness, or even minor events such as forgetting to submit your homework, or picking up your clothes from the cleaners. Symptoms include fatigue, hypervigilance, restlessness and irritability — and are often chronic.
Panic attacks are short bursts of intense fear often marked by increased heart rate, brief chest pain or shortness of breath. They usually last fewer than 30 minutes, and could occur once or repeatedly — sometimes without reason. These episodes can send people to the emergency room, as are sometimes thought to be a heart attack.
Ricks Warren, Ph.D., a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan gave this great breakdown of the two evils
What is the difference between a panic attack and anxiety?
Warren: Anxiety is basically what we experience when we are worrying about some future event — anticipating a bad outcome that might happen. It’s often involved with muscle tension and a general feeling of uneasiness. And it usually comes on gradually.
A panic attack is different. It’s associated with a very abrupt onset of intense fear because of a sense of threat happening right now, the fight-or-flight response that we’re hardwired to have in order to deal with immediate danger. It sets off that alarm.
I had a panic attack. I was worried about failing my class and freaked out.
Okay, got it. I need to relax. But what about my stress? How do I live an easier life.
I wrote down all of the things that I did on a daily basis, and also wrote down how they made me feel and what I thought the outcomes would be.
My list was devastating. I was living for everyone else and not myself and I began to correct them quick.
The last thing that I wrote on my pad was ” I am taking a break from it all”.
Saying NO was difficult for me, because people need me. People need to know that they are loved and I tell them. People need to come see me, because I listen to their issues and they need that. People call to vent, because I defend them and will always side with them (If they’re right). I was done with that. The “Do Not Disturb” feature on my phone became my best friend.
Getting rid of unnecessary bills was next. The stress with paying them on-time and working long hours to do so was putting its toll on my body and more importantly, I was done giving people my money. I got rid of my cable, lowered my phone data plan and stopped using the dishwasher so much and had a few extra duckies in my pocket.
Getting closer to God was the next step. Humans are cool, but knowing that a higher being is on your side makes dealing with life circumstances much easier. I started praying more, and just talking to God like he was my best friend.
Meditating also helped. I am an active Pilates enthusiast, but I didn’t get much into the self love thing. I started to incorporate some Yoga into my Pilates and made it my own. The experience helps me much more physically and spiritually.
Getting rid of the old. I got rid of my old clothes, old furniture, my old bed set and even food seasonings! A new visual was so therapeutic and I loved my new decor, look and food tastes!
Shutting It Down was the last on my list. I deleted ALL of my social media apps, focusing on myself, and learning what I actually liked to do in my free time. I even started to think things differently and pick up new creative habits. I eventually started my own business!
Life comes at you fast, and knowing how to manage daily struggles positively can help you avoid unhealthy experiences like anxiety and panic attacks. It can also help you become more productive, save money and more importantly…..be happy.
I hope this helps someone!