Hey Strong Babes!
In honour of May being Mental Health Awareness month, I’m doing a new series each Wednesday in May called “Warrior Wednesday”. I am going to be sharing the “war stories” of mental health struggles – funny, sad, serious, embarrassing as hell, and everything in between.
Talking about mental health is so important – and I firmly believe that bringing the struggles of mental health out of the shadows will support and connect us in ways we have never been supported or felt connected before.
I’m gonna start.
So sit down, grab a coffee, and buckle in because you are about to hear the story about my very FIRST panic attack.
It also happens to be the same story as the first time I got high.
As most teenagers, I too was interesting in dabbling in drugs. At this point, 16, the closest I had come was snorting nutmeg (kids do weird things, and yes it burned). I had always had anxiety, but at that time my thinking was simply that I thought the way everyone else thought (anxiously). I definitely didn’t have the wherewithal to comprehend the consequences that smoking mary jane could have on my anxiety.
One day my big sister, her boyfriend, my twin sister, and my cousin all took a ride to a park and I decided that day was going to be THE DAY. Everyone else had already tried it, so a nervous excitement set in for me. I took a big ol’ puff – or whatever it is you call it when you smoke marijuana.
The moment I felt it was the instant moment I fell into panic. First and foremost, I was so high I couldn’t stop smiling with my mouth ALL the way open (I thought it was stuck) and that scared me. Adrenaline surged through my body, my heart raced and my body fell into disassociated tingles.
Yup – my first panic attack was not only SELF-induced but it was also DRUG-induced. I began screaming for my sister to call an ambulance! I wasn’t sure exactly why, but I was convinced I was dying. Here I was, trying to be the cool kid, and I’m screaming in the vehicle at the top of my lungs to call an ambulance! But what’s a dying girl to do?
We ended up at my sister’s boyfriend’s parents house and I spent the entire night being terrified and stuck in my own head. I remember watching The Simpsons and not knowing what the hell was going on. I remember putting on a sweater and feeling like I was inside the sweater for years. I remember making my twin sister sleep with me that night and before bed I asked her “am I going to be like this forever??!?!?!?!?!?!”. She comforted me.
When I woke up the next day, I didn’t feel the same. This probably sounds cliche but it’s true. I couldn’t stop thinking about death and dying. Not because I wanted to, but because I was afraid I would. I didn’t know how or when, I was just convinced that it would be somehow and sometime soon. I remember feeling bad because I thought I had fucked up my brain forever.
This kind of reminds me of a horror story that a parent might tell their kid to scare them into staying away from drugs: “Don’t do it or you’ll fuck up your brain forever!!”. I have wondered how my life would have been different if I never had that panic attack. But I don’t think it would have changed much. I think it was something waiting inside me, for the moment it could be triggered and set free.
But it could have been anything. Anytime. It just happened to be that. After that episode, I had panic attacks frequently. But as it goes, they started to get further and further apart. Slowly. But surely.
For years after that I was convinced that I wouldn’t live very long. Well here I am 12 years later anxiety so fuck you, you liar! After that first panic attack and countless (countless) more I’m still here kicking. Stronger, wiser, and more badass than ever.
And as I’ve said before, for better or worse (but mostly better) anxiety has made me who I am – and it’s given me this blessed life. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Thank you for reading my story.
I would love for you to share a story on my blog! Please comment below if you are interested. You never know the difference you could make – even for one person.
Until next time!