“Are you okay?”
“Hey what’s wrong?”
Distant voices of people speak without being heard, blurred vision slowly begins as tears steadily find their way behind your eyes creating a burning sensation. The inability to think clearly starts to form clouding your mind as you feel a tightening in your chest and shortness of breath slowly begin to become more frequent. You can’t escape, you feel stuck and trapped. You don’t want to be alone but you can’t be in a crowded space. It takes all of the courage and strength within you to stand up and get your feet up and move until you’re able to make it out of the crowded room you’re in and into an empty hallway where you then finally feel able to collapse onto the floor with your back against the cold wall, praying someone will find you and make whatever unknown feeling is going on within you disappear.
It’s not until a staff member, teacher, classmate, friend, or random person walks by and see’s you on the ground that help is brought to you. They get you a cup of water and sit in front of you working you down to a calm state. To the point where you’re able to breathe again and think once more. The person in front of you tells you that you had a panic attack and from there you find ways to cope.
A panic or anxiety attack is when you’re doing anything at all. All of a sudden an individual experiences an episode of fear in which a severe physical reaction will occur (like tightening in your chest, shaking, panic, etc). The experience will happen even though there is no present sense of danger or known cause. Panic attacks can last for short or long periods and will at times even cause alarm to those around who might be witnessing an individual experiencing such an ordeal. What people need to understand is that this experience is not uncommon at all. A lot of people have panic attacks and it’s important to know to remember to breathe and to relax because there are ways to cope with these attacks.
The very first thing to do if you feel like you’re having a panic attack is to figure out what setting you’re in. Look around and see if there’s anyone in the room that you know, trust, and can signal for help. If you don’t see anyone then grab your phone and some water (if present) and make your way out of the room you’re in and into a non-crowded space. Once you’re in a less busy area, sit yourself down with your back against a wall (if that works better for you), place your phone next to you and try a technique that I learned works well for when you’re having a panic attack.
The method is called the 5,4,3,2,1 method and it works in 5 simple steps, those steps being:
Find 5 things that you’re able to see in the area surrounding you.
Find 4 things that you can touch.
What are 3 things that you’re able to hear?
Find 2 things that you’re able to smell.
Find 1 flavor that you’re able to taste.
This method works wonders for anyone having an anxiety attack primarily because it helps take the brain of the victim who is enduring a panic attack off of their anxiety. These steps help by placing the individuals focus on something else helping them to gravitate back to reality and their center. To make things even better it’s a method that can be administered by someone else who may try to help you or by you trying to help yourself.
Panic attacks are no fun at all. They’re something that can happen in an instant without a warning and is something that can ruin a whole person’s day. The panic may last even after the attack but it’ll numb down to nothing eventually. I am a victim of panic attacks. I’ve had them multiple times but I have learned that when you have someone either on the phone with you or next to you, water (either a glass or water bottle), and a quiet or less crowded space you will survive. Sometimes you need some peace to think, sometimes you need to walk, othertimes you need to talk, it really depends on the situation and your body. They all are the worst and nobody likes them. However they’re not unbeatable and if you’re able to detect it soon enough before it happens then you’re able to defeat it before it even begins. The key to the whole process is understanding that you do not have to be a victim and can have control over these situations. Panic attacks are defeatable and you can overcome them if you put your mind to it.