In life realtalk

Real Talk: I have anxiety and panic attacks

mental health, anxiety, panic attacks, health, college health,

Hey y'all! I'm starting a new series about real situations college students face every day. Today we're talking with Hannah Nicole about her experience with anxiety and panic attacks.

Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! I’m Hannah,  a 20-year-old that can never figure out what she wants to do with her life. Every day I’m faced with something new, but I live a very blessed life with my family, friends and supportive boyfriend. I love laughing, YouTube, cats, and ice cream, and you can find me with at least one of these things each day. I believe in having faith in whatever you do and believe that life is what you make it. 

What's your experience with anxiety and panic attacks?

Ever since I was in the 2011 Joplin Tornado, I’ve been having anxiety and panic attacks. They started out only when it would storm, but it got worst  to the point it could sprinkle and I would be in tears. 

One night in bed, I had this awful pain in my chest, and I was shaking like crazy. I honestly thought I was having a heart attack. I was crying, and I couldn’t move because of how bad the pain was, I decided to go to the emergency room. They told me I had a really bad Panic attack. It was the first time that it got that bad, and since then, they’ve been coming more often. It got to the point where it's hard for me leave the house without feeling pressured about what’s going to happen to me that day. I have also worked with some wonderful people that have mental disabilities and Behavioral issues that also have anxiety and Panic attacks each day.

What's the difference between anxiety and panic attacks? Can you have one without the other?

During an Anxiety attack, people feel fearful, just like when you’re taking a really important test and you feel as if you’re going to fail it. When you turn that paper in, your heart is racing, and your mind is going crazy with all the feelings of nervousness. 

A panic attack is random and can happen at any time for no reason. During a panic attack, someone is actually scared, they have fear or they may even fear that they are going to die. You can have one without the other, but after a panic attack, people can find themselves having anxiety because they are waiting for the next panic attack to happen.

What's it like to have a panic attack?

My experience with my first panic attack ended up putting me in the emergency room. I was in bed unable to move. That day was actually a good day, I had been stressed in the past week, but this day wasn’t a day that I would think would make me have an attack. I was sitting in bed and all of a sudden my heart started racing, I laid down and then I started to get this awful stabbing pain from my heart to my stomach. I thought I was having a heart attack, so I started to cry. I was having hot flashes and was having really sweaty hands. 

Now that I’m more educated on the subject, it makes sense that's what was happening. But when you are at the moment, you seriously think you are dying. 

Have you ever had a panic attack in a social/public situation? 

I haven’t had a Panic Attack in a real social setting. But one day I went to Best Buy with my boyfriend, as we were leaving the store it started to pour like crazy. I hadn’t been having anxiety attacks from the rain in a long time, but for some reason, this time, it actually bothered me. 

I got in the car, covered my face and started bawling like a baby the car ride home. I’m sure people were looking at me from other cars and wondered what was going on. But I finally got home and my boyfriend stayed by my side till I could calm down. 

What kind of coping methods do you use to alleviate symptoms?

After the attack is over and I realized what's happening, I do whatever makes me happy. Either watching my favorite TV show, laughing with my boyfriend, or even just meditation. Reminding myself that I’m going to be okay and that I’m not having any serious problems helps me also. 

 What can we do to help someone with anxiety and/or panic attacks?

Get them help. Refer them to a doctor that might be able to help them through the journey of accepting what is going on. It really is something hard to accept, some days I don’t want to accept that I have this issue. 

If someone doesn’t feel comfortable seeing a doctor about it, just being there for them is the best thing. Remind them that they have friends and family that love them and that those people are there for them when they need them.

What do you want people to know about those who experience anxiety and/or panic attacks?

The aftermath of a panic attack can be very painful to people.  They can start getting depressed and feeling helpless very easily, so if you start seeing signs of that ask them if you can help them find help. People that have the panic attacks are not crazy even if they think that they are.  The mind can make us think crazy things sometimes. If a loved one is experiencing an anxiety or panic attack, just be there for them. It’s the best thing you can do.

Hannah Nicole is a 20-year-old YouTuber and blogger. Connect with her on the various platforms below or her website here.

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  1. Great interview and subject, both the person & focus. Most family doctors are now familiar with and treat this relative common type of mental illness, which 1 in 3 Americans have some type of. The most common, and sadly hidden and untreated, is the mood disorder group that includes anxiety+panic attack (vs. general anxiety). Many good medications too b/c each person reacts differently to different medications. Supportive national organizations w/local affiliates in almost every metro area like Mental Health America (MHA)and NAMI are good for referral & support. Just telling someone is a major help in itself, the shame & social fears of sharing this health problem only compounds the problem. Based on personal, education, and professional experiences.