The other day, I was in the car and I couldn't breathe. Both of my nostrils were stuffed up and I didn't have any saline spray on me to help. Usually I keep saline spray on me at all times because I'm fairly sensitive to allergens and pollutants. Dimitar also keeps a bottle in his car because he too gets a stuffy nose every now and then. This time though, we didn't have any around and I didn't realize it would cause me so much distress. 

    We had hit traffic pretty bad and it felt like time was moving by slowly. What seemed like a few minutes felt like an hour because I was constantly focused on the traffic or the fact that I couldn't breathe. As hard as I was trying to keep myself calm, I could feel the tension within me build up with every minute and I become more and more uncomfortable. Everything around me was as normal as could be, but deep down I was beginning to panic. 

    Since I never had a panic attack before, I didn't really understand the symptoms or techniques to use to keep myself calm. I just sat in my seat trying to control my thoughts but it was extremely difficult. It took one thought though to set my panic off (a thought too personal to share here on my blog), and I quickly felt myself become extremely claustrophobic. 

    As we turned the car into a dark neighborhood, I struggled to breathe even more and the music playing on the stereo seemed louder than usual. The space in the car felt like it was closing in on me so I rolled the window down to see if fresh air would help. Along with my thoughts, I felt my breathing pick up and I didn't know what to do. I couldn't breathe, I felt alone, and whether we stopped the car or not, it wouldn't help. That's when it hit me that I was having a panic attack. 

    On top of those feelings, I also felt ashamed. Whether that was because of my panic attack of just my experience being the younger sibling who always felt like an inconvenience, it left me a bit traumatized. Why? Because it was the first but not the last time I'd have a panic attack and I didn't understand why. It seemed fairly random since I'm normally a pretty composed person. 

    The second time I had a panic attack, I decided to leave the house without my glasses; we were making a quick trip to Subway and for some strange reason I thought it was a good idea to leave my glasses at home and sure enough, I had a panic attack. The third time, I was at work and I remember looking at the lights and thinking how unnatural the lighting was; I had to step out of the store to get a drink just so I could calm my thoughts down. 

    Although presented with different situations, each time I felt myself on the verge of having a panic attack my thoughts always got the best of me. Since these incidents, I have learned to practice controlling my thoughts and my breathing since those are the two things that can make the symptoms worse. Most importantly though, it made me aware of how I wasn't taking care of myself mentally and that I needed to do better. I have always been an advocate for mental health so I needed to play the part. 

    It also helped to have Dimitar around to help calm me down. When my mind was racing and I wasn't thinking clearly, it's was great to have him around for comfort. Experiencing such things when you're alone is fairly scary! 

    Some things I've been doing so far to take care of myself are; taking more vitamins, eating cleaner, going outside when the weather is nice, listening to better music, having more fun, and doing more daily affirmations. Having panic attacks made me realize how vulnerable I was to stress because even though I didn't feel overly stressed out, my reactions to such events told me otherwise; it was truly a wake up call.

    If you find that your mental health has taken a turn on you, please consider getting professional help! There is a mental health crisis in America that many of us overlook and such things will never improve if our lifestyles don't change with it!

   Until next time - Sarah xoxo


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