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As I sat on the floor of a public bathroom stall, I knew something wasn’t right … I started breathing heavy, my vision became blurry, my heart was beating fast, I was sweating, I started getting dizzy, and I thought to myself, “I’m too young to have a heart attack.” Moments later I gathered my things from the bathroom floor and pretended it never happened. A few weeks later I suffered the same harsh symptoms, but this time I was at home alone and scared that I wouldn’t make it. After the second episode I forced myself to the doctor’s office and found out I was indeed having panic attacks.

Each time I had previously suffered from a panic attack I didn’t feel anxious or worried prior to; in fact, prior to both instances I felt extremely chill. So, when the attacks occurred it felt as if they occurred out of the blue and for no reason. The first time it occurred my life was just full of “stuff.” I was a law student juggling two stressful jobs, I had a social life that I made a conscience effort to keep and a romantic relationship, and not to mention, my civic involvement because that’s what the world requires of us right?! Hell nah! None of these factors were true requirements just “stuff” I piled on my plate to help secure a pseudo-stable future, which we are told will take place post graduation.

So, in my mind I was leading a fulfilling healthy life until I found myself on a public restroom floor, inside of a busy courthouse, barely legal, young lady standing over me asking, “Are you ok?” In my mind I was screaming, “Hell nah … I mean do I look okay!” I felt like I was dying, and after a few long deep breathes, and a few more moments on the dirty ass bathroom floor, and a glass of water, and a pair of false lashes blinking quickly over me, I garnered enough strength to gather my things and pick myself up, but not before the fake eye-lash wearing/barely legal young lady could ask me if I was an attorney and if I could assist her with getting child support (I can’t make this stuff up people!).

After that incident I hustled back to the courtroom to find my mentee who was the reason we were attending court that morning — he had gotten into a fight at a college party a few weeks before. I was there to lend support and, of course, my connections. After settling the matter, I returned home and slept for the remainder of the day. When I awakened, I recalled the incident that occurred earlier. The only persons that knew were me and the young lady seeking child support assistance. I brushed it off as a one time thing and kept it moving because my life was too full and too busy to pump my brakes.

A few weeks later it happened again, and during the course of it transpiring, I said a silent prayer and pleaded with God. I promised God if I got through this matter this time around I would cut some “stuff” out of my life. Shortly thereafter, I went to the doctor’s office and was told that panic attacks were my body’s disorder of choice. While I was fortunate enough to survive the attacks and refrain from medication, there are many people who aren’t so fortunate and will suffer from this anxiety disorder for the rest of their lives. Panic attacks and anxiety are very real and quite common but, most importantly, preventable through lifestyle changes or medication.

A lot of people make light of the stresses in their lives. People are often silent about these occurrences, ashamed that, if they admit that they too are stressed or have suffered from a panic attack, they will be viewed as weak or incapable of multitasking. Suffering from a panic attack does not deem one weak, it’s actually your body/mind’s way of telling you to either reevaluate some habits or let some “stuff” go. Some people may have one or two panic attacks (like me) during the course of their life and others may suffer from the attacks more frequently and require medicines, either way get help. Choose to live a healthy, informed, and a stress free life. My panic attacks were my valid excuse to let some people and some things go, I mean who’s going to argue with you if you say, “Hey I have to let you go because you increase my chances of having a panic attack, nothing personal I just want to be healthy” Choose yourself … Choose healthy living.

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