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Panic

The first thing I notice is a weight on my chest, like someone has put a bowling ball in my lungs. My throat gets tight, like I am about to cry, and I can’t take a deep breath to save my life, so black dots start dancing around the edges of my vision. My heart is pounding, my hands shake, I’m hot and sweaty, and I furiously bounce my knees. I am positive there are a million butterflies inside me, but instead of being in my stomach, they have risen into my tense chest. My mind is racing with vague thoughts yet my body is paralyzed. Chemicals in my brains are dashing along the “fight or flight” pathways that were created millennia ago to help my ancestors escape life or death situations, but they are not helping me now. I am sitting in a classroom. The teacher is looking at me expectantly. I feel like I can’t speak, but I manage to sputter out words into a few incomprehensible sentences that the teacher somehow decides is an acceptable answer and walks across the room to harass another student.
My experiences have begotten a love of mental illnesses. I don't love that they exist and damage people’s lives in horrific ways, but the events, personalities, or genetics that trigger these thoughts, feelings, and behaviors fascinate me. I go through phases of obsession where I quickly jump from one disease to another, in which I franticly gather as much information as possible on a subject through Wikipedia articles, scientific studies, or documentaries. First it was eating disorders, then schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or manic depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, reactive attachment disorder, multiple personalities and so on. I would bet that I am one of a few, if not the only, students in the school who can define the different clusters of personality disorders, tell you the difference between schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia, and schizoid personality disorder, or describe the symptoms of a panic attack.
The panic attacks can happen multiple times a day, or not for a week. They could happen when I make an announcement in Gathering, share an opinion in a class discussion, or am assigned a large project or paper. I talk to doctors, shrinks, and school counselors to try to control my anxiety. I have tried breathing techniques and medication. Everyday, my brain creates new pathways that change the chemicals and teach my body how to react appropriately to daily stressors. However, my panic attacks don’t isolate me from other people; in fact, as I share my struggles, I find that I have more in common with other people than I would expect.



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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

. said...
Dec. 1, 2013 at 1:07 am:
This is the second piece I've read from you and I can truly say that I love your writing style. Please keep on writing!
 
sydneyparker replied...
Dec. 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm :
Thank for your feedback! Hearing such affirmative reactions is so reassuring. I will definitely submit more of my writing, thanks to your kind comments.
 
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