Panic Attack at the Shopping Centre

Yesterday (April 1st) I had a panic attack in the middle of a shopping centre. I was headed to pick up my bike (which had just been serviced). After I calmed down a little, I started writing this post.

This panic attack is hitting. I begin wrestling my heavy backpack off of me, with little regard for the my podcasting equipment and MacBook inside. I spot a corner near a store front, rush to it and drop to the floor as soon I reach it.

This is the second really bad panic attack I’ve had this week. I’m writing this while still sat on the shopping centre floor. My focus isn’t to talk about the panic attack but about the strange sense of freedom I feel whilst sat here crying my eyes out.

I just had my amazing friend, Gracie, in an earbud trying to talk me down and get me to breathe properly. When I finally regulate my breathing, I become aware of people looking at me. Two of the centre attendants pass by to ask if I’m okay. A mother and daughter (I’m guessing) kindly stop to ask if I need anything. I automatically say “no, thank you” initially, then remember my nose is streaming, so I ask for tissue.

With Gracie still in my ear, the kind mother goes to get me tissue and her daughter (I’m still assuming) sits on the floor with me. She comes back with a bottle of water and a Kleenex 8-pack. She takes two packets and leaves me with six. I’m super grateful. They have an appointment to attend, so they wish me well and are on their way.

I’m writing this while sitting on the floor in a shopping centre, my elbow propped on my bag beside me. There’s a couple looking at me… but that’s my point. I blatantly stand out right now (ironically, sitting down) and on most days I care (to an extent) what people think but, even with all the stares and looks, I don’t feel uncomfortable right now.

I’m still sitting on the floor of the shopping centre, writing this post. Slight side note; I’ve finally decided to let go of all my old website content and start fresh, who knew this is how the first post would come about.

My name is Helen, I struggle with anxiety and other things. If you do too, please know you are not alone.

It’s a little later now and I’m sitting outside, post panic attack. I see the mother and daughter on their way back. They ask how I’m doing now and I reply “better now, thank you,” and reiterate how grateful I am for their kindness earlier.

Later, on my way home, I realise that in my panicked state I forgot to offer them the money for the water and tissue (something that will bug me for a long time to come). I’m so grateful for them, Gracie and the kind people who checked in with me. I pray I get to meet the mother and daughter again and if not, I pray they are blessed in abundance for the kindness they showed me.

What this panic attack taught me is that when I get overwhelmed there are people who care. I don’t always feel like I have people to reach out to – but that’s another story.

The sense of freedom I felt just sitting on the floor of the shopping centre post panic attack was unreal. Any feeling of caring what people think felt completely alien in that moment. To me, that is a personal win that I will carry forward.

One last thing. Please reach out to someone you trust if you are struggling with your mental health.

I’m here too, if you ever need to talk. I’m not a therapist but I’m always happy to lend an ear and together we can find professional services that can be of help to you (if that what you’re ready for).

Take your time, feel your emotions out. They are all valid. It’s never perfect but I promise it gets better.

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