My first panic attack happened years ago, when I was still in school. We were playing a word association game in French class where a student would say a word and the next student would begin with the previous word and then their own word. The student after that would state the previous two words and their own word. So long story short I calculated that I would be the last student out of a class of 30 or so to state all 29 words before me as well as my own. A fun game, but obviously my mind didn’t think so.
As it was rounding down to my turn, my hands and my feet started tingling. I ignored the feeling as I was trying to concentrate on the game. My friend, next to me, finished her line of words and glanced at me to start my turn. I looked at her, tried to start speaking but nothing came out. All of a sudden, I couldn’t breath and I was gasping for air. My chest was paining. My heart was beating so fast, that it felt like it was going to beat right through my rib cage. At this stage I was crying uncontrollably. I had no idea what was happening to me.
I thought I was dying. To those who have never experienced a panic attack before, the phrase “I thought I was dying” might sound exaggerated. But to those who have experienced the ‘joys’ of a panic attack, know that it is quite literal. After what seemed an eternity of my own personal hell, the symptoms subsided. In reality this hell of mine lasted around 2o to 25 minutes.
After this whole episode, the class ended. I felt absolutely drained. I went to excuse myself from waterpolo practice (to which my coach gave me a warning, because she thought I was being dishonest about not feeling up to practice). The whole incident encouraged me to find out what happened and after realising that it was indeed a panic attack that occurred, I was able to do a bit of research into coping mechanisms.
For the longest time I was terrified of having another panic attack. Every time I felt a bit overwhelmed or started getting ‘the tingles’ in my hands, I would remove myself from what ever situation I was in and just go and breathe. I believe this was the start of my anxiety. Something that I have only recently started coming to terms with.