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Talking about panic attacks and anxiety

An effort to talk about mental health more often

In an effort to discuss mental health throughout the year rather than just on specific days, I would like to discuss panic attacks.

I, like many others, have experienced anxiety-induced panic attacks since I was young and they often hit me with little-to-no-warning — much like it did the other day after a night out with friends.

The experience is exhausting and quite often terrifying.

My symptoms, which can be similar or different from other people’s experience, included: profuse sweating, compulsive negative thoughts, severe stomach pains, pacing throughout the house and an increased heart rate. The following morning, symptoms continued with irritability, paranoia and sleeplessness.

I’m explaining my experience not to garner personal sympathy — though it is appreciated.

I am instead explaining my symptoms in the hope that everyone can have a greater understanding of what many people are going through everyday.

I, luckily, experience anxiety/panic attacks on a much less frequent rate than in my youth but many people you know and care about deal with it on a daily basis and need society’s understanding and love.

One thing that I did to help alleviate my anxiety was talk. I talked to my wife, I talked to my mom and I talked to my friends about my experience.

This is not something I would have done in the past, mostly because of societal stigma around mental health. The previous societal view of masculinity was to repress mental health issues.

I can now say with confidence that this view of mental health is wrong and that everyone needs to talk about their issues.

Having anxiety and panic attacks does not make me less of a male; it does not make me less of a husband and father; it does not make me less of journalist and it does not make me less of a human being.

If you are struggling, I hope you find the courage to share your struggles in order to find support.