Things to remember when you’re having a panic attack

Surely we’ve all at some point in our lives encountered anxious situations. For some people, it’s not a big deal and easy to brush off, but for others, the anxiety we feel evolves into a state of panic, formally known as a panic attack. This overwhelming feeling of anxiety is fairly common; in fact, I just underwent probably one of my worst panic attacks yet. Long story short, I went to a Cold War Kids concert, left my spot to get water, and when I tried to go back, I was essentially trapped in a mass of people who wouldn’t let me back to my friend, specifically two grown men who refused to let me pass by. Yes, it’s not a big deal and people can be rude, that’s life. But this was a trigger moment for me, and an overpowering sensation drowned my body, I felt like I couldn’t breathe, I started crying, and ultimately, I left before hearing the first song by the wonderful Cold War Kids. From this experience, I learned a lot and gained some perspective that I would like to share.

Panic attacks are never your fault.

When I had my panic attack, I figured it was because I was weak. I figured I should’ve been more aggressive in addressing those two guys who made me feel trapped. But the thing is, it wasn’t my fault. In a sense, we have tremendous control over our bodies, but at the same time, we really don’t. I’ve come to learn that the human anatomy is very unpredictable. Overall, I felt ashamed and, to be honest, very upset I missed the concert, but I understand now that if I even tried to push past the crowded sea of people, I would have continued to melt down. The fact that I left is OK, because I know panic attacks are so hard to confront and get rid of.

It’s important to know your body.

In situations like this, it’s really OK to step back and tell yourself, “I need to be in a comfortable setting, I need to calm myself down.” Doing this means you can clear your head and feel at ease, so take a deep breathe and take yourself away from all the commotion around you. It’s a shock being in a foreign environment, and this shock can result in a racing heart, hyperventilating, dizziness, and so on. Knowing how your body undergoes a panic attack is the key to ending them.

Not everyone is going to understand.

I was a mess when I had mine; I felt faint to the point I could just fall over, tears were all over the place, and I had to get out. My friend was concerned, and after the concert I attempted to explain. It’s an awkward situation trying get your point across, trying to even talk for that matter when it feels like you can barely breathe. Some people will get it, others won’t—it’s just the nature of the beast. When she told me blatantly to just overcome it, it made me think that maybe she’s never had anxiety and doesn’t fully understand. And maybe those two guys were the same. Not everyone will understand and not everyone realizes we all undergo things in different ways. Anxiety is something that takes practice to get rid of and there are many who don’t comprehend this. This is why I firmly believe it is truly important to have an open mind. It’s like how that saying goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

Overall, yes, I probably missed a great concert, but I took much more away from this experience than I thought. Being secure with yourself in situations like this can be helpful in understanding why we have panic attacks. Acknowledging that not everyone is going to understand it right away is key in handling certain situations. The main thing to know is that no matter what, anyone is strong enough to conquer the rocky road that is panic attacks.

Whitney Levine is a 19-year-old, full-time college freshman with hopes of becoming a writer of all sorts. When she’s not interning she’s working retail, and when she’s not working retail, she’s usually home watching Game of Thrones (shout out to Jon Snow) or going to concerts. She’s just a normal teenage girl trying to make sense of the world while simultaneously trying to save it.

(Image via Keith Negley.)

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