Panic Attacks: A Challenge on Life

Going through a panic attack is way worse than it seems. Yesterday, I went through a panic attack that was way worse than anything I ever went through in my life. Of course, there are a lot of reasons to why panic attacks occur. For me, all of those factors were strictly personal, issues with my family, love life, or even stress from work. But yesterday, the panic I went through was more induced by a social factor.

The fear of a panic attack for me is the fear that I won’t be able to breathe. I have always told myself that this fear is irrational, and that there is a very slim chance that this might happen. But with the Itaewon crisis that happened this Halloween, the fear became very real. When I heard 154 were dead in the incident, I was initially grateful that I was not there. Soon after, I was heading home from work in my car and found myself panicking about the fear of death– even in the safety of my own car.

I tried to talk to my boyfriend about it, but naturally, those who have not gone through it rarely understand what it feels like. When the panic attack happened, I ran out of the car, feeling nauseous. I bent over trying to puke out anything inside of me, with no success.

I found myself lying on the floor of our parking lot, gasping for air, trying to breathe, heart pounding so fast I could barely even count. My hands and feet felt numb with a tingling sensation, and my head started to spin. I sat down on the floor, grasping my heart to keep it in my chest, while I ripped my coat open to get some more fresh air. I could hear my boyfriend running out of the car with my shoes, asking me what was wrong.

Sometime between the ambulance coming, I’m pretty sure I was begging for someone to save me, that I was scared, and that I felt as if I were going to die. When help arrived, they told me that there was nothing they could do for me, that I would just need to open my eyes and take a deep breath.

Deep breath in, hold, let it out slowly.

Much harder than it sounds. Taking slow breaths is hard when your body is curdling up into a ball. I remember grasping the steady hands that were leading me through my breathing, and my breath was already returning. Thinking of breathing, and focusing on my breaths, I slowly found my way back. It was as if a plane had landed safely on the ground after horrifying turbulence.

I am ashamed. Writhing on the floor of a parking lot, gasping for air, screaming for help, asking for mercy. I feel powerless and empty. I’m cold. My feet and hands are numb. My eyes burn, and my lungs feel sore. I’m scared. Scared that this will happen again. Scared that I will be scared.

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