My First Panic Attack: The Day I Thought I Was Going To Die

My First Panic Attack: The Day I Thought I Was Going To Die

#GaGWritingContest #First #PanicAttack #Anxiety


Firsts are typically remembered as happy occasions; first kiss, first day of school, even your first period (as a girl). But the first I am writing about is anything but a joyous occasion. In fact, I found writing this myTake rather difficult, as it brought up memories that are uncomfortable for me.

This is the story of my first panic attack, the day I thought was going to be the last day of my life.

I remember it like it was yesterday, although parts of my experience are a bit of a blur. It was summertime. I was 14 years old and just nearing the end of my freshman year of high school. I was working on an art project as part of a contest; the winner to have their artwork featured as the cover page for the school's year book. Art was (and still is) something that I enjoyed as a hobby, so naturally, I was excited to be given such an opportunity.

It was around 6pm in the evening. I was just finishing submitting my project on the schools webpage after several hours fiddling with the scanner (after all, technology was still quite cumbersome in the early 2000's). But somewhere within the excitement of the whole experience, I began to sense uneasiness and a sort of irritability that I had never experienced before; something felt off.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, it hit, like a ton of bricks.

A blanket of sheer dread and terror swept over me...

My thoughts began to race...

I couldn't breathe and began hyperventilating; I felt like I was being suffocated...

My body was trembling....

My chest muscles tightened and my heart began beat uncontrollably...

Not only did I think I was having a heart attack, I was convinced I was going to die...

Although I did not know it at the time, I was experiencing my first panic attack.

Being concerned, and undoubtedly scared and confused as I was, my parents drove me to the emergency room. After checking in and a brief wait (which felt like an eternity!) I was seen by a triage nurse. I was convinced, "surely she knows something is wrong and she is going to admit me right away". But I was wrong. Seemingly dismissing the state of crisis I was in, she told me to go sit back down in the waiting room. I distinctly remember feeling angry and crying to my parents:

I am dying! Why is no one helping me?

It must have been another 20 minutes before I was called in to the examination room. By this time, I was exhausted from crying, but still scared out of my wits.

Once in the examination room, a nurse handed me a gown and instructed me to get undressed. As she left the room, I remember hearing a young child screaming across the hall. My senses where heightened; I flinched at every loud noise and the smell of disinfectant made me feel sick to my stomach.

Lying on the gurney, a technician entered the room and began placing electrodes on my chest, which were then connected to an EKG (electrocardiogram) machine. I recall listening to the rapid beeping sounds of the machine that filled the room, which ultimately me more uptight and anxious. Aware of my distressed state and rapid heartbeat, the technician chimed up:

You need to relax

Relax? How could I relax? I had no idea what was happening and I could not understand why everyone was being so calm.

Another 30 minutes must have passed before the doctor came in. At this point, I knew there must be something going on from all of the bustling and whispers in the hallway. She was a large, burly woman, with a serious look on her face a serious look on her face. I knew from her appearance that she must have bad news. Was there something that they weren’t telling me?

She turned to my parents:

We think she is having a panic attack

Panic attack? This is the first time I ever heard those words.

After a brief examination by the doctor and a battery of tests, a nurse came into the room wheeling an IV cart. She explained that she was going to give me something to help calm my anxiety; Diazepam. As she placed the IV into my arm and started the drip, I can remember the cool, clear liquid running down the tubes. It felt cold rushing through my veins, which made my body shiver. But I soon felt a calming effect wash over me. I finally felt relaxed, as all the physical tension in my body started to dissipate.

My first panic attack was over.

Fast-forward a week later. >>>

It was my first appointment with a Psychiatrist, having received a referral from the hospital. As nervous as I was, I was eager to find out more about the panic attack I had experienced. I had a million questions I wanted answered: What was it? What caused it? Would I have another one?

Over the course of several daily appointments, and after asking and being asked many questions, that is when I received my official diagnosis: Panic Disorder - frequent and debilitating fear and anxiety that arises without a reasonable cause.

The cause? It turns out that my brain was not producing enough Serotonin; a key brain neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation.

Over 15 years later, I still have struggles with my anxiety, although a combination of medication and therapy has helped me manage it (I also have Generalized Anxiety Disorder). I still get panic attacks from time to time, but they are manageable and nowhere as scary as the first panic attack that I ever had.


I have written this myTake as a way of raising awareness of panic attacks and anxiety disorders, and at the very least, reducing the associated stigma. It is quite difficult to explain what having a panic attack is like to someone who has never experienced one themselves. I hope that I have given readers a better understanding of both panic attacks and anxiety disorder through relaying my story.


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What Guys Said 8

  • Yup not fun at all.

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  • I cannot help but feel like this has been over dramatised beyond all reason..

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    • Its really not over dramatised. Been through it myself and its really scary.

  • I have had one and it can be scary

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  • Lmao I remember I ran out of weed and smoked resin.. think I got lighter gas poisoning xD
    I literally thought I was gunna die I had to go outside Lmao

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  • Yeah I've had a near death experience. My chest locks up in my sleep sometimes and i wake up panicking. can't draw a breath. Im clawing at throat n it feels like a giant fist has squashed my ribcage. I've never felt fear like that before. Its like drowning when youve run out of air and youve got to inhale or your lungs will burst. Its not a nuerotic thing. Fuck only knows what it is

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  • This is how my family used to stop my older sister's panic. We would slap her in the face and say "calm down get a hold of yourself" and repeat it until she was stopped. After a few years she was curef by my family's old school method.
    https://youtu.be/i0GW0Vnr9Yc

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  • Good mytake

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  • Very well written 👌 I have a couple friends who have experienced it themselves but I haven't. This myTake helped me understand it more.

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What Girls Said 15

  • I couldn't imagine having to go through that, and still continue dealing with that. I wish you the best.

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  • How did it last so long? Fuck.

    I've had panic attacks but none nearly so bad as that.

    Thanks for sharing

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  • It's good that you're better now. :)

    Experiencing panic attacks is not fun at all. The worst one I had ended up with my hyperventilating so badly that it causes a blood vein to pop in my eye. So for weeks I had this some what big red dot in the white part of my eye. Though most of the time any panic attacks I have are caused by my asthma, when ever I feel like I can't breathe.

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  • I have a phobia that leads to what can most accurately be described as a complete meltdown, where I go completelty. non-verbal, become hysterical, and become paralyzed, and I remember the first time I had one of these meltdowns, triggered by a cockroach, I had it at camp and once I regained the ability to speak semi-coherently, I had to call my mom and started sobbing into the phone "I WANT TO COME HOME I WANT TO COME HOME PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE GET ME I WANT TO COME HOME" Panic sucks, doesn't it? I also have a weird pseudo-flashback thing where I vicidly imagine people I love dying and I forget it's not real

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    • do you consider this a panic attack or something else?

    • Show All
    • @orphan I have a pet rabbit, I'll stick with him. He's cuddly and furry and is like two pounds. Perfect size for cuddling.

    • see... this is why y'all will continue to have anxiety and panic attacks... y'all won't take the steps to confront your fears.

      resolve it while you're young.

      ps baby mantises are cute too

      http://i.imgur.com/MwQa9.jpg

      s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/.../...f0e9186346.jpg

  • If you have panic attacks and anxiety disorders, do you have to take medicines for it?

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    • Yes, I need to take an anti depressant for my anxiety disorder, which I take daily, and I have medication for panic attacks, which I only take when necessary.

    • so depression and anxiety are linked?

    • Yes, very much so. They both share similar neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, and you will often find that they occur together (comorbid) or one will precede another.

  • I've experienced something similar. I had extremely low blood pressure, and for some reason my stomach was in such intense pain for god knows what reason. And when I stood up from my bed I lost my balance and my sight went blurry and my head was spinning, and I'd go in and out of consciousness and I'd try to stand up again every time I regained consciousness. I honestly thought I was dying cause I constantly lost control over my body and then eventually I completely drifted out of consciousness and my dad found me on the floor after hearing me constantly falling over in my room. It was like 5am in the morning when it all happened. He found me with my eyes open and completely rolled back and my lips were blue. 😱 When he woke me up after trying for like 5 minutes I went through a stage of hyperventilation and panic. Then we took the ambulance to hospital.

    Happened twice in my life now :/ And Im sure there's more to come. 😞

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    • Please be optimistic darling

    • @Ameya Haha I'm alright, it's better I keep in mind that this might happen again so I know next time I know I'm not dying.

  • I can't actually remember the first panic attack that I had. I don't even think I recognized them as panic attacks until I received my formal diagnosis at age 20. I have the same as you, GAD and panic disorder.

    For the people thinking this is overly dramatic: you clearly have never experienced a panic attack. I hope you never have to, because you do feel like you're dying. But maybe if you do have one, you'll learn to be more kind and understanding of people with mental illnesses, and especially anxiety. At the very least, less dismissive of things that you don't understand.

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  • Thanks for sharing. Panic attacks are truly terrifying. I had my first one when I was 8 years old, I had no idea what was happening. Fortunately I haven't had one in several years.

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  • Execellent Take and I do say it is #ContestWinnerWorthy!

    You have awaken some of my old memories as well. I remembered having an Anxiety Attack. I remember my mom, brother and aunt were worried for me. I would have insomnia, tightening of my heart, cold feet and hands.. It was bad.. intense. I was preparing for an oral examination and studied hard and in the process I mustve developed a fear that was only excerbated by my defiency in Vitamin B. Why I say Deficient, well after freakin that whole episode and my mom ignoring the dr (He thought I should be checked in a mental institution, How rude), she bought a bottle of Nutrophus. Its ppacked with vitamin B after I took it I fell asleep, woke up like nothing happened, It was gone and hasn't since returned. I still do remember to keep vit B and others close by tho. I am sorry that you had to experience that but I am glad that you are able to manage it.

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  • Thank you ❤️

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  • I just want to say thank you for being brave enough to share your story with us. I totally know how you feel; I have a generalized anxiety and panic disorder too, and the first time I experienced a panic attack I also felt like I was dying.

    It's a very scary thing to have to go through, but you're not alone! Kudos to you for being so strong <3

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  • When I entered my first contest this didn't happen.. This scipt has scared me.

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  • 🌹 From one gal managing panic disorder to another. Thanks for sharing - I feel like living with it is something many people don't understand unless it happens to them.

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  • I have had two of them. I think mine is from lack of sleep and stress.

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  • You worded how it feels very well :D

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