The Terror of My First Panic Attack & How It Lead Me To Pursue Peace
I will always remember July 25th, 2020.
I was in the back of my family's expedition, feeling extremely anxious after a family event--my first large gathering since before the COVID quarantine lockdown when I was in the Philippines months before.
I didn't know what was going on with me, so I stared out the window, crying softly to myself. My mom noticed how quiet I was and asked, "Mal, are you okay?"
I barely got out the words, "I think I'm having an anxiety attack," while sobbing and gasping for air before I felt everything break inside me.
Both of my sisters spun around from their seats and reached out their arms to grab me. I clung to them like a terrified child--wild-eyed and desperately trying to breathe.
It was like all the oxygen in the car had run out.
As I hyperventilated faster by the second, I could feel my eyes start to roll back in my head.
I'm gonna pass out.
"Mal, look at me! Look at me! You need to breathe." My sister completely took command of the situation in a way I had never seen her act before.
As tears streamed down my face, my body shook uncontrollably and I lost all feeling. I had this strange, terrifying sensation like I had left my body. Still, I couldn't catch my breath.
I feel like I'm dying.
"Deep breaths, Mal! Deep breaths, you can do it."
After what felt like days, we arrived at home and I was eventually able to slow down my rapid, shallow breaths into the slow, deep breaths my sister was breathing for me.
Now, the next part you might laugh or cry at, because I can tell you God definitely knew I would be having my first panic attack on July 25th. July 25th was one of the days my best friend, a trained therapist to-be, was visiting me.
God literally placed a person trained in dealing with panic attacks right in front of me when I needed them.
Isn't that something.
As soon as I got home, she lovingly and expertly guided me through the steps of recovering from a panic attack. God knew I needed her to be there on that specific day, because without her, I might not have sought professional help.
That night before bed, she said these words, "You are strong, but getting help would also be a strong thing to do."
I dropped her off at the airport a few days later and while hugging goodbye she left me with one last thought: "Please talk to someone."
It was then that I knew I had to seek professional help. If my best friend who just finished her masters in art therapy told me to get help, I needed help. That day I awoke to realities of the trauma in my mind and knew I needed to pursue peace to heal.
I relive July 25th over each day. There's not a day that has gone by yet where I haven't been touched by the terror I felt in that moment. And sadly, that hasn't been my only panic attack.
But, I'm healing, and that's enough for now.
More on my healing journey coming soon.