Written by Shauna Mc Daid.
February 28th 2016
Crushed under the weight of what seemed like the heaviest of beasts imaginable, the Panic Attack.
It would sit pearched on my shoulders, sometimes for minutes, other times for hours and hours on end.
Unshakeable weight, crushing my spine and debilitating my lungs. Sometimes the weight would make it so that I could not breathe and with the roaring of my heart in my ears I would drift into unconsciouness for a minute or two.
It seemed as if no one understood this horrible affliction and people would often tell me to “Get over it” or try to convince me that it wasn’t as bad as I was making it out to be.
They couldn’t see, nor feel the beast.
They were not being suffocated. They were not me.
They could not understand. I did not believe there could ever be a way out.Then Fiona came along. She knew all about the beast; said she had one of her own.
“Did you know you can tame them? Learn to function and live alongside them?”, she would ask me.
At first I didn’t believe her. I had been struggling against the beast for so long now that I could not envision a future where it would not render me non-functional at every turn.
But she finally convinced me to give it a go.
She taught me to sense when the beast was stirring, and how to re-settle it again before it errupted with a rapturous, ear splitting roar.
Breathing exercises became my best resource.
Breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven seconds and then release for eight seconds (this one helped me to nod off to sleep at night, with the beast snoring peacefully by my side), or breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds and breathe out for four seconds.
The rhythm of my breathing seemed to lull the beast into peaceful submission.
This is what I know now.
Although my journey with the beast is far from over, I know that the beast and the panic it instills will not defeat me.
There are others battling the same demons daily.
We must speak up, end the stigma, and find a way to make peace with our beast.
Even our greatest enemies can be overcome, and we can live together in peace.
My panic attacks no longer crush me quite so much, and as I continue to push back, I grow stronger, and more free every day.