PA. Not the state.

Let’s talk about something that everyone seems to think I shouldn’t talk about –that it should be kept quiet. A secret.

I have panic attacks.
I’ve got some anxiety things going on.
It also doesn’t affect my ability to live my life or do my job or be a normal, functioning human.

Have you ever had a panic attack? Like, an actual panic attack? Probably not. It’s not being really stressed out. It’s not feeling overloaded with work. It’s a physical, emotional and mental reaction to a danger that doesn’t actually exist.

And there’s nothing you can do about it.

It is something you cannot stop or predict or control. There are coping mechanisms, but no way to make it go away.

And the first time you have one, it is terrifying, and you will think you are dying.

Sometimes it’s not just the first time. Sometimes it’s more than two years after they started.

Most of the time I can just breathe through them. Racing heart, clammy skin, ringing ears, dull, pounding headache, shortness of breath. The fight and flight instincts battle each other out. It’s a different combination every time. It’s something I’ve learned to breathe through, to get through, to work through. Tonight was different though. I couldn’t breathe, period, let alone through it.

This has been a part of my life for years. I know the different types I have. I know the things I need to do to get past them. Most times, I can have one at work at no one would know.

This was different. This one went on for hours. This one scared me. This one was bad enough the I decided, on my own, that I needed to get to the hospital.

Most if the time they don’t have a specific trigger. The one today did, and I know what it was. But I don’t want to talk about that.

What I want to talk about is the fact that I want to talk about this kind of stuff. I don’t care if people know that this happens to me or even when it’s happening to me. It’s not something I want to be made to feel like I should hide or worry about people knowing, because it has no effect on my ability to do my job or live my life.

I will tweet about it like I tweet about hockey or running or my dog, because it is just another part of my life, like hockey or running or my dog.

I want people to know about it and ask questions or whatever, because while it doesn’t define me and doesn’t happen very often, it’s still a a part of me. And I want the people I love and care about to know all the parts of me. I’m tired of compartmentalizing.

Some people have told me I shouldn’t talk about this on social media because people will use it against me. I say try it.

People talk about mental health like it’s a taboo subject. That is why there are so many people who don’t get the help they need. The stigma surround mental health issues is sickening. If I can just make one person pause for thought, then putting everything out there is well worth it.

(Blogging from my phone; typo amnesty is appreciated.)