Panic!: A 21ST Century Scare

I think it’s safe to say that we all have some pretty solid scary movie memories somewhere deep in our brain. You know the type of movie your mom would tell you not to watch late at night, yet the perfect movie date to snuggle up with that cute guy. The type of movie that kept you on the edge of your seat and turned all the popcorn and candy in your stomach upside down. The type of movie that would take your breath away from a scary scene, on the moments you least expect it. Now imagine that same movie and those same feelings associated with it, haunting you day after day.

You may be thinking to yourself, “what a nightmare!”. Well, let me tell you, yes it is all that bad. The famous “panic attacks”, I’ve been having them for years. They’ve become my worst enemy but god are they close to me at awful times. Now, there’s a bit of a debate on whether we as sensitive humans are experiencing ‘panic’ or ‘anxiety’ attacks. The way I have learned to differentiate them is by classifying it as an attack caused by an upcoming event that may make feel ‘anxious’, like a class presentation, or exam and an attack that appeared out of nowhere usually during stressful times. Similarly to the scenes in those same movies where the girl goes down into the dark basement and all that is going through your head is ” oh girl, don’t do it. You know you’re doing to die..” yet your heart pounds fast, your breaths become sharp and then BAM! just kidding it was just a spider web.

In my case, and probably in yours too, my panic attacks are around often when tension covers the air around me. It is when times are stressful that they visit often which just makes all matters worse, as you can imagine. Let me put it into perspective for you… Your palms start feeling clammy and sweaty, your throat dries up, your stomach turns, fatigue controls your emotions, your chest feels tight, and all there’s left for you to do is cry. Absolutely awful, I know. The worst feeling comes next when there are no more tears left for you to cry, your chest feels heavy from your heart pounding, and your throat feels as dry as the Sahara desert a small peak of bright light shines over your shoulder because those few minutes of nightmare have finally come to an end.

I do have to admit that it may have seemed like the world just ended for me. Weirdly enough, it’s all puppies and rainbows after that. Yes, really, you read right. I said puppies and rainbows, quite the dream am I right? One of the three major things that have helped me relax after such traumatic events is to first pet my dog, Max. Almost a year ago, my family and I welcomed our newest family member, a beautiful golden retriever puppy named Max. Although he makes a mess out of our living room and often steals my lunch if left unattended. Petting Max after a panic attack has really helped me distract my thoughts from the fatigue and nausea to then focus on my senses and Max’s soft golden locks running through my fingers. As for the rainbows, well, we can imagine those in the background as Max licks the tears off my cheeks.

The second way I like to relax after my attacks are by taking a shower or a bath. I know what some of you are thinking, ew a bath! But I actually think baths are great. Bath time equaled fun time when we were kids so why not implement that when we’re older. For those of you over the age of 21, grab a cup of wine and enjoy the bubbles. Now for the young ones like myself, I’ll stick to my relaxing music and a possible face mask. Lastly, my third and final step to complete such a roller coaster of emotions is to breathe. Often times, when our body is under a lot of stress we forget to take control of our breathing. By inhaling and exhaling deeply and reminding myself of positive thoughts I’m not only able to get a hold of my breathing but also of my emotions.

Well, my friend, this scary movie has finally come to an end. I hope you at least got to enjoy that cute picture of my dog, you know he’s adorable. If you ever feel like our friend Chandler, and also had a very long, hard day. Remember to treat yourself to a bath, give your pet some attention, and don’t forget to breathe.