Last night, I had my first panic attack in about 3 months. Yesterday started like any other day. Got up, got ready and headed off to work. Work wasn’t particularly stressful or anything. I had class that night and it was a lot to deal with but nothing that I wasn’t prepared to handle. I know my triggers and do everything that I can in advance to avoid anxiety and panic attacks. So, I drove home like every other day. I parked my car and that’s where it hit. A wave of panic and anxiety rushed through me and I knew I was done for. I tried to walk my dog but was so overwhelmed with fear that I could only be outside for a few minutes. I was paranoid that I was going to be jumped or someone was following me even though I was at my apartment complex where I’ve lived for a year. I knew that I wasn’t in any real danger but my mind was telling me I was. Thoughts were racing in my mind that I had to drag my dog back home so I could be in a better place. I couldn’t keep my mind straight or my breath steady. I started pacing back and forth and hoping that my next step would be the one where I calmed down. My worst panic attacks start like this in the past. The next thing that happens is I become irritated in my skin and can’t put together coherent thoughts. I keep saying things like “I need to get out” and “It itches”. I basically try to claw my way out of my skin. It honestly is like someone else has taken over my body. I can’t be reasoned with until I finally come down. I can barely breathe and I’m hysterical. It is the worst thing in the world and I hate having to experience it.

So I knew that I couldn’t be in that position. I was able to take the few minutes before I was unable to reason with myself and figure out what I had to do. I laid completely flat on the ground in the dark and tried to forget where I was. I started to sing in my head so that I was focus on one thing in my mind. If I could focus in on one thing, I could stop the craziness in my mind. I was able to lay completely still for about 20 minutes. In that time, I was still in panic but I was able to shut my body down. It’s like I couldn’t move no matter how hard I tried. It’s weird to say but I much prefer that over trying to take off my skin. I finally was able to take a hold of my breathing and calm down. I took my time to get up and started going back to my regular routine. I think it probably took me about 2 hours to fully be back to my normal, non panicked self. I have anxiety at night typically but this was a lot for me to deal with. I had plans on what I needed to do that night but panic attacks don’t care. They take over and demand you spend all of your energy and time on them. All of it. It happens. I hated that I let myself get there last night but I honestly could not control it at all. In one way, I feel defeated. I had gone so long without having a full panic attack that I was hopefully I was really getting control over my anxiety. But now, I had this set back and it makes me begin to spiral back down that path with my anxiety and depression. But I’m proud of myself. I was able to recognize what was going on and take slight control. It may not have been all the control I wanted but I stopped myself from getting to the worst of it. In my own way, I did it. And I did it by myself. Taking that 2 hours to keep me from breaking my skin was my way of telling my anxiety that I have control. The journey to my healing is not linear. It is jagged and I will fall down again and again. But I will keep getting back up every time and pushing my self further and going farther. So yeah, I had a panic attack last night but it showed me that I am finally making progress.

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