Friday 27 March 2015

Vivid Panic: A Personal Story of Panic Attacks

- Joss

I am a student at the University Of Cumbria. This is a personal view on my world around me as a 2nd year Outdoor Education student, but I don’t believe it differs to many other students with similar stories. Note, I did not call it a problem. I have never called it problem, a hurdle may be, but never a problem. What I have learned since starting university, is that it really is a microcosm for life. Its changes from semester to semester are so rapid, that my head may as well be in second week of first year. It’s a blur, a ever changing blur. I seriously can say that not one week is similar to the next. Sure the Netflix, dark rooms and cold showers may seem a tad repetitive but I can safely say that there is an event that changes my view on the world every seven days. My hair has been lower than my shoulders and way above the ears, I have stopped smoking, started smoking, stopped it again, smoked weed, stopped it, started it, stopped it, drank more than even the stereotype suggests. I have felt, low, high and downright confused. It’s a full frontal scene, it’s like someone has opened a can of exploding paint in my eyes. It’s brilliant. But it is exhausting. Admittedly it’s a tiring way to live. I can look forward, I can look back, but sometimes the here and now is just as scary as the future or past will ever be. I have, become oversensitive, not sensitive enough, calm, anxious and even depressed? I have jumped from one group of friends to another, gaining differing snippets of life every time, from a spiritual group, to rugby lads, to music enthusiasts to Mountain bikers, to rock climbers. I can safely say that they are all my friends. But where do you place yourself? Have I spread myself too thinly? The very thought of the here and now scares me. It’s overwhelming, Its giving me a choking feeling, can I breathe, what if I cough will that make me feel better? Why are my hands shaking, am I having a heart attack, a asthma attack? Why have I forgotten how to breathe? Why does everything seem so unreal? Like I looking at me from inside me? Like I am looking at the future, past and present all at the same time? Breathe. Do not let it overwhelm you this time. Listen to some loud music, drink some water. You’re not going to die, this has happened more that hundred times. You are bigger than this? How can I be feeling all of this and yet seem so calm from the outside? Oh, it’s over. Don’t think that! It will start again!

This is me on a daily basis. I am slowly, day by day beating it, writing this is hard, makes me feel tense. But I have learned many lessons with this. You can’t figure life out. You’re not crazy, and you’re not dying. It is simply defensive. Against what? It doesn’t matter, just go with it. Talk, to people, and tell people, Laugh it off. Most of all accept change. Accept that it’s going to happen, and don’t get yourself into a rut, do not tuck yourself away because it’s easier.

Panic attacks will happen. The more you get out the more you will get used to them. It is not nice, but I can tell you this now. You are not alone. In anyway. People scoffed at me when I said I was anxious and was having panic attacks. ‘But you’re so positive!’ It means squat when it comes to my head. It’s all over the place. Don’t let it define you. But let people know. So, Fight or Flight? There is always more than two options. For the only thing that is constant is change. Change with it.

Support Joss, the author of this blog, as he trains to climb the Matterhorn to raise money for Student Minds, by visiting his fundraising profile here:

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