Thursday, August 15, 2013

My First Panic Attack

Hi everyone,

This isn't a common post for me but I thought I should share because I'm ready to and it's just something I think a lot of people can learn/grow/introspect from. 

It's mid August and everyone is going back to school! Well... not everyone. I for one, am not since I graduated last winter. It's funny how much stress you can get from completing whatever was the cause of your stress. Although I loved (and still love) college, it was no joke... some serious business. I took full credit semesters for the most part and had extracurricular activities like my practicum in my later years of my bachelors degree. I never knew that graduating wouldn't really be of any relief... I guess I never even had the time to think that far.

In the past month, I believe that I learned the most about myself in comparison to maybe the last decade or so... I've always been very introspective and although that can seem like a good thing... it drove me crazy being an underachieving perfectionist. I feel inclined to give you somewhat of a background story on all of this so that other people who may stumble upon this post may benefit from my experiences with anxiety... and my latest panic attack.

I think the combination of .. well everything... got the best worst of me. Young adulthood in a few words really is a lot like Taylor Swift's song "22". I am currently 22 years old and vouch for the lyrics "We're happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time. It's miserable and magical." I'm beginning to think with the shifting culture and society that we are all facing today, the traditional idea of "get educated, get a job, work, raise a family, eventually retire" is moot now.

Not only are young adults in confusion about their lives and what direction to take.. but a lot of us are. With low employment rates and no guarantee of higher education getting us the job we planned on having... life and career are currently just floating ideas accumulated by family expectations and older tradition... wrapped up in our warped sense of our own expectation for ourselves.

And with all that in mind.. fresh out of college with a degree in Psychology... I expected more emotion to overflow through me after receiving my diploma. But it turned out that all the hard work I put into this stamped piece of paper was just a tiny stepping stone in where I want to be in the future.

Now let's get to my story... I had my first panic attack a couple weeks ago in the beginning of this month. Honestly, I knew I was stressed with frequent headaches and cold-like symptoms of fatigue and dizziness but I never knew my body could jump from "stressed" to severe "panic attack". Luckily, my dad was there to escort me to the hospital. At that point, my fingers had curled up in a rigid and frankly broken manner because all the blood in my body headed for my heart. My arms were completely numb but the pressure stayed in my fingertips as if my heart was draining every ounce of blood out of the veins in my fingers. My toes/feet were tingling numb as well but not as nearly as bad as my arms. My neck/half my face were gone as well. I honestly thought that I was just going to explode the whole time. I can't breathe. It hurts. I'm numbing everywhere. I'm thinking of some extreme morbid thoughts. Heart attack? I'm too young. It hurts. I would rather pass out than feel this. That sort of stuff.

With all said and done, I'm fine now. I'm on my ulcer prevention meds with some minor costochondritis. I never heard of this before but my doctor explained it as a form of heart arthritis.
MayoClinic defines it as: Costochondritis (kos-toe-KHON-dri-tis) is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone (sternum) — a junction known as the costosternal joint. Pain caused by costochondritis may mimic that of a heart attack or other heart conditions.

It basically just makes parts of your breast bone really throb or ache. I massaged it and heat packed it as often as possible. There are no real remedies but time. 

Now that I'm done explaining all the medical stuff... I want to move onto what's really important about this story. You need to live in control of your daily life stressors and avoid whatever negative stimuli you can. I never want to get a panic attack again. And if you have some anxiety (whether medicated or not), think about what your body needs. Are you in a good place? Or is something/someone/some place giving you anxiety? If so, talk to someone. Find a productive and mature way to filter it out of your life as best as possible.

It's what I've been working on recently and mine were mostly family-related issues of mannerisms and different personality types clashing. Although those are harder battles to fight, I decided to have some long talks with various people about understanding myself and my needs better. You'd be surprised how a much a person can change or try to change when you tell them that something they may unintentionally do gives you a lot of grief. A lot of my personal issues stemmed from my childhood and just how I was conditioned to associate certain things together. It's hard to "fix" but a work in progress is better than giving up. 

It's all a work in progress to not let little things bother me so much and to also express myself more verbally to people I know I need to talk to. Being human is such a sensitive matter. We all react differently to different things and mean different things by it. It's all just sensitive. But it doesn't mean you should give up on people or things and mainly yourself because you feel like you can't handle it anymore.
I'm moving along slowly and at my own pace because everyone is at a different place in their lives and shouldn't be compared to where you are. Where you are is no better or no worse than where everyone else is at-- just different.

So here I am, hoping I'll get in grad school, become a mental health counselor, and move along to happy places and spaces mostly in my mind. :)

I know this is a lot of rambling and I don't expect my craft/arts readers to read through this all but for anyone who did take the time to.. just remember that wherever you are in life, you aren't lost. You're here.

And things always get better.

You just need to sit down, take things step by step. Don't go in tangents, just think. What decision do I need to make to get to my next small decision and so on so forth. It's like a flow chart. You can't skip to happily ever after in one sitting.

Thanks for reading my thoughts. Stay healthy and happy. All good things will come.
Take it easy but not lazy. 



  1. Excellent! I can relate to this. You are a very sensible girl for 22 years old. I think you will make a good counselor.

  2. Thanks Tina. :) Best wishes.

  3. OMG, Dana! I'm so glad that your dad was there to help you get to the hospital. It must have been so scary. I read your entire post (you know I do), and I just want to say that you're AWESOME for sharing this, because there are others out there, younger than you, same age as you, even older than you - and we can all learn something from this post.
    As I was reading your post, it reminded me of your post from today and one of your typography prints you shared - "Stay away from lonely places." I want you to know that by posting this experience, you've created a less lonely place here.
    You're so right that we are all different and handle things differently. But it's always nice to know that we are never alone, no matter what.
    Thanks for sharing, and I'm super glad you're OK.

  4. PS - I forgot to mention, I like your latest blog makeover too. =0)

  5. Aw thanks Kim.

    You are such a wonderful person. I'm about to go give your blog some lovin.

    And yes, my banner needed a sunny change. (:
    I'm going for a more personal blog.



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