Sunday, June 12, 2016

Stress and Anxiety

Hey, guys! So this is definitely going to be a more personal and a bit less happy post than usual, so just bear with me for a bit. I'm not writing this to complain or whine or anything like that, but I think it will give you some good background information and who knows, maybe it'll help someone out there as well.

For a few years now, I've been dealing with stress, anxiety, and panic attacks.

I didn't always know what was happening. I've always been a bit anxious around new people and I've never been the best at socializing or making friends, but I always just thought "Oh, I'm an introvert (which I am), and I have a few good friends and that's all I need (which it is)." But getting panicky when I'm stuck in a group with no one I know isn't exactly the best for me. The first panic attack I can actually remember as a panic attack happened almost two years ago now, but my mom thinks I'd had them before even that.

But on this particular day, we had one of our biggest football games to play at, and I hadn't been able to find my marching band shirt for my uniform that morning. I'd already been panicking at home about this since I was new and didn't want to be that one kid that made everyone wear uniform jackets in 90-degree weather because I couldn't be bothered to be in proper uniform. My dad finally just took me to school and said he'd find the shirt and bring it to me before game time. Then, I get to school-- and realize that in my panic, I had forgotten my instrument.

I lost it. I was already shaken up and sticking out like a sore thumb in my yellow shirt, and as a new marcher, I was rather intimidated by the band director. I couldn't stand the idea of telling him I didn't have my flute and couldn't rehearse on the day of the biggest game.

I started crying and hyperventilating and shaking. My head was pounding and my heart felt like it was going to bust and everything was suddenly too loud, too bright, too much. As a person who already hates being put in a spotlight, this just made me feel like everyone was staring at me, the weird girl freaking out in the corner.

I remember thinking oh my goodness, I'm having a panic attack. I knew what was happening, but of course, I had no clue how to stop it. I just panicked and panicked more about panicking. Finally, I did manage to make it to the nurse's office, where I sat and drank water and calmed down until my dad brought me my shirt and flute and I was able to rejoin rehearsal.

I can clearly see now that there was never a huge threat. It was plenty easy for my dad to bring me what I needed in time for it to matter. But that there was nothing to panic over didn't matter then, and it hasn't mattered in any other panic attack since.

The panic attacks were very infrequent at first, and so I didn't really worry much about them or having another one. I don't know what happened recently-- I'm guessing just general junior year stress-- but the attacks came much more frequently. When I had multiple within a few weeks, that's when the worry kicked in. (Now you understand why I didn't post much in April.)

I didn't have to worry what was wrong with me-- I knew what panic attacks were, and thanks to AP Psychology, I knew a good bit about panic disorder as well. But I worried about when the next attack would come, who would see, what I would do. I worried more about panicking during my AP exams than about the exams themselves. I almost didn't want to go to my friend's birthday party because I was afraid I'd have a panic attack in the puzzle escape room and feel trapped and ruin her party.

I did finally talk to my mom about it, and I've been getting help. I wish I could tell you everything is fine now, and I wish I could tell you exactly how to deal with this problem, but I can't. Maybe at some other time, I'll go over a few techniques I've learned for controlling breathing and trying to calm down.

But for now, I just want to say that if you deal with anxiety or panic attacks, you are certainly not alone, and don't be afraid to talk to someone.

And if you do know someone that deals with anxiety or panic attacks, just be there for them. Understand that it's not easy to control and we didn't ask for this and we know it's nothing to stress over. Don't be dismissive or tell them to "chill" or "calm down"-- it's not that easy, believe me, I wish it was. Just be supportive and understanding and listen to them. If they want you there, great, if they want to be alone, that's fine too. Just be their friend.

Anxiety and panic attacks are more than normal stress, and they're a very real problem. I really hope that at least maybe this will eventually help at least one person out there, and I hope it helps someone understand.

If you can relate or if this has helped you in any way, feel free to let me know in comments below. And even if you don't relate, please just try to be respectful of anyone who does deal with this issue. Thanks :)


  1. Thank you for being honest and open Shannon! Mental health (anxiety, depression, panic disorders, etc.) is something that is incredibly important and the more we talk about it, the more we "normalize" it. Way to go for getting help! Here is a link to one of my favorite geeky bloggers (you might already follow her). She suffers from major anxiety and panic attacks. Maybe she might have some helpful tips. :) (Not to mention that she has the COOLEST crafts!)

    1. Thank you for your support! I'll definitely have to check her out, thanks!

  2. Thanks for being open about this! Hopefully it will help others open up and get help. It has been painful watching you suffer in silence but I'm so thankful you're now acknowledging this and seeking help and guidance for it! Knowledge is power, and you have given the whole family power over this often-times debilitating problem! :D