I Recently Had the Worst Panic Attack of My Life
“Remember having a panic attack is not a failure, and not having one isn’t a success. Success is not letting the attacks run your life.”– Heidi Cullinan
A couple of months ago, I had the worst panic attack of my life (so far).
One that officially took over the reigning title within a matter of seconds. It completely caught me off guard and swooped in without any regard to where I was, what I was doing, or who I was with.
If its goal was to completely debilitate me – it succeeded.
Unfortunately, I’ve experienced plenty of panic attacks throughout the course of my life. Some so small that they came and went, and were soon forgotten about. And some that just completely sucked. But I was able to tuck it away for a while and carry on with the rest of my day.
However, this recent panic attack was different than all the rest.
It’s one of those you never forget because it truly felt like the end. It literally changed me in an instant and caused me to take a step back and reassess my life.
So, I put some things on hold that I was able to.
I stopped writing and blogging. Stopped obsessing if all the household chores were done. I stopped working late, and even took some time off from my day job to just simply rest and reflect. It was just what I needed, and it left me craving more. But that’s a conversation for another day. 🙂
If you’ve never experienced a panic attack, you may be wondering “what exactly is a panic attack?”
Simply stated, panic attacks are a form of anxiety that cause you to feel intense fear, even when there is no real danger present.
Also known as panic disorder, panic attacks can manifest differently from person to person. But panic attacks can also carry similar symptoms that the majority of victims encounter, such as a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and sweating.
Generally, when someone is experiencing a panic attack, they feel an overall sense of impending doom. They may even feel as though they are having a heart attack or feel like they are literally dying.
And what is most interesting is that this panic can go from 0 to 100 in a matter of seconds.
The panic doesn’t even care that you don’t have the chance to properly react and instead, it instantly transports you into your fight or flight mode.
For me, this is what the worst panic attack of my life was like.
I keep going through the chain of events that led to the worst panic attack of my life (let’s keep it that way please!). What caused it to occur and why was it so intense?
Overall, my mental health was the best it’s been in a long time.
Sure, I still experience anxiety on the regular, but I finally felt like I had a sense of control of my anxiety that I never had before. The severity of it just didn’t make any sense to me.
I wasn’t particularly anxious that day either. In fact, I was quite excited as I was headed to a birthday party to celebrate my nephew’s birthday.
Without warning, the panic hit me like a ton of bricks – all while I was driving down the interstate going a steady 75 MPH. (And if you’re someone who experiences panic attacks, you likely know that having one while driving is the absolute worst!)
Isaac and I were 20 minutes into the drive (give or take few) and in the middle of an interesting conversation. I don’t even remember what the conversation was about, but I do remember being intrigued by it. I was speaking, when suddenly I felt as though I couldn’t even talk.
It was like my breath had instantly been sucked out of my lungs and I was no longer able to speak.
At that point is when the panic began to set in.
There was a heavy discomfort in my chest, my heart was racing, and I was shaky. I literally thought I was going to pass out as it felt like my world was closing in on me.
And worst of all, I was driving on a busy highway! Traffic surrounded me and I couldn’t just simply pull over. I thought I was going to pass out right then and there, crash, and this would be the end.
Luckily, it wasn’t the end, and I was able to overcome the attack. But for the rest of the day I felt completely detached from reality.
After making a short stop to pick up a couple of family members, I had Isaac drive the rest of the way to the birthday party. However, the panic didn’t stop there. I did experience small moments of panic along the way, but nothing like the event I had earlier in the drive.
While in the car and at the birthday party, I told some of my family that I recently had a panic attack. This was the first time ever in my life that I openly told someone, other than Isaac, that I just had a panic attack.
I questioned even saying anything at all as I usually do, but this panic attack shook me to my core.
Plus, I felt like I wasn’t even there, and I wanted to let others know in case I was acting a bit off. I got it off my chest, and I’m so glad I did. Even if no one understood or thought it was silly, it felt better just to say something. It made it real.
Sometimes, I like to think back to when panic attacks weren’t a part of my life.
Everything seemed so carefree and there wasn’t a worry in the world. At least in my own little world. But then I like to reflect on the popular saying, “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
For some strange, unknown reason, I was dealt the panic disorder card in this game of life.
Maybe it was to share my story one day like I am here. Or maybe it was to help someone else who is going through the same thing.
Whatever the reason, this recent panic attack proved to me that talking about mental health in some form or fashion is my purpose. Even out of the darkest times, we can always find growth and strength. And that’s what I choose to do with this last experience.
It feels like a stretch to say I’ve just now experienced the worst panic attack of my life. I mean, I’ve been experiencing panic attacks for almost 20 years now.
But one thing I have come to learn is that it doesn’t matter how many panic attacks you go through or how strong your mental health is – you can still experience the worst panic attack of your life. Even if you’ve had plenty before it.
It doesn’t mean you are weak or makes you any less of a person. It just means that you’re human.
We may have it all together one day and be falling apart the next. But that’s the beauty of human nature. It’s ever evolving and resilient. We get a new start each day to overcome what we couldn’t the day before.
So please, don’t make the same mistake that I have time and time again.
Don’t believe for a second that something is wrong with you just because after all these years, you still struggle with your mental health. We’re all doing the best we can, and that is more than enough.