The Crippling Fear of Having Another Panic Attack
After I had my first panic attack, I was afraid to drive by myself (or just to be by myself in general) and to be around people other than my family.
Then, I had my second panic attack while out with both my friends and family together, so now I have this thought in my head: The last time I hung out with friends I had a panic attack. How do I know if the next time I hang out with them it will be any different?
My thought after my first panic attack (along with many other things) was, "Okay, this is really bad."
After my next one I thought, "Okay, so this is a thing now."
If it can happen twice, it can definitely happen any time, or at least that's what my mind tells me.
Having one panic attack is bad enough because it feels like you're dying, but the fear of having another one brings a whole new level of anxiety to life. Suddenly you feel like you can't do certain things--you start avoiding situations that remind you of having panic attacks or that you feel have the potential to bring on another one.
Since I had my most recent panic attack around friends, I haven't been around them. I've barely even talked to my friends, but I did make the step of calling a couple of my friends this past week, which although was a nerve-wracking and emotionally draining step for my current state of mind, was also really, really good and needed. I love them so much.
Today I'm making a little road trip journey to see my friends who live in the Des Moines area. I swear, I made this decision and my anxiety was like, "What the heck are you thinking, pal?! Driving (my panic attacks have been in cars for some reason) about 5 hours round-trip to stay with your friends, in another person's house, when the last time you hung out with anyone just for dinner you freaked out??"
Ugh, I despise my anxiety. She argues so well.
I spoke to my therapist about this fear of mine. He said, "Well of course you have this fear, because you fell like you're dying when it happens! You need to learn to breathe."
You mean the solution to avoiding this near-death-like experience is to do something I already do 24/7?
According to my therapist, he learned from a woman who taught him in professional trauma-care, that if people practice breathing deeply to the point where it becomes a habit, simply breathing deeply can stop a panic attack in its tracks--even mid-attack.
If you are one of those people who have been able to get yourself out of a panic attack through breathing, I commend you and you deserve a meddle, because that takes pure strength and discipline of the mind that I at this point feel I'm only dreaming about.
In conclusion, even though I have social anxiety up the wazoo and I haven't mastered breathing yet, I am making the choice to go see my friends this weekend for two reasons:
I don't know how much longer I will be in the country before I can go back to my home in the Philippines
I need to prove to myself I can do this--I need a win
So, if you see an old gold Chevy Impala on the highway with a girl doing breathing exercises today and looking ridiculous doing so, that'd be me.