But something you don't know is that on the plane ride home, I was suddenly seized by a massive panic attack.
I was sitting next to my friend, minding my own business (I think was eating at the time), when all of a sudden I felt an overwhelming pressure. You know in movies how they focus on the person and the sounds around them just become background noise with their heartbeat taking over? That's what it felt like. I got out of my seat and tried to walk it off, but then it all came crashing down on top of me.
I rushed back to sit down as my breathing and heart rate quickened. I was barely able to speak to my friend, but I managed to say, "I'm having a panic attack." He looked shocked, immediately grabbed my hand, and starting asking me what I needed. But by that time, I was in full panic mode. The plane around me became a blur. I couldn't think, couldn't speak, and couldn't react. I was shaking, I couldn't catch my breath, and my heart was beating out of my chest.
I felt like I was about die.
Most of what I remember was just clenching onto my friend's hand as tight as possible. About 10 minutes passed before I told my friend, "Give me your phone. I need to write down my symptoms so I'll remember them later." This was by far the worst panic attack I can ever remember happening. Time grew to be meaningless. A flight attendant tried to help, but it had progressed to a point where my limbs became numb and my joints were locked solid. All I could do was hold my friend's hand tighter.
After about 30 minutes, the feeling ebbed, and I became more relaxed. I thought it was finally ending. But unfortunately, that calming only lasted for a minute or so. Eventually, after about 45 minutes of this wrenching torture, my mind and body slowed down. And after that, I was fine. I still have no idea what caused it. I haven't had a panic attack in years, so this really shook me up.
Now writing this, I'm shivering just recalling the event. I haven't had another episode since, so it must have been some combination of a severe headache (I got sick the first day in Rome #thatsucks), the long trip, and maybe some other factor I didn't notice. And if you know me, you know I always look at bad situations and try to find the positive. So the good news is that I was reminded what the teens who suffer from anxiety are going through, my friend now knows how to help me and others who experience the same symptoms, and all of you get a taste of what a full blown panic attack is like if you've never experienced it yourself.
So I tell you this not to scare you or garner sympathy, but simply to demonstrate that healing is a lifelong journey. And while this journey is extremely daunting, boy is it handy to have a friend by your side.