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The first panic attack I ever had was when I was about seven, after watching "Field of Dreams" at my grandparents’ house. I really wish I could tell you that as the terror set in I had run into the room where my parents’ were staying yelling “OMGBAAAAAASEBAAAALLL” but sadly this was not the case.
As an adult, I now know that I wasn’t reduced to a sweaty, screaming puddle of child by the concept of ghost-baseball or contemplations of Kevin Costner’s future career choices -- though both are terrifying in their own right. (Be that as it may, Waterworld is amazing and -- fun fact -- technology Costner and company developed during shooting WAS USED TO SAVE ALL OF THE OCEAN ONCE. LOOK IT UP.)
Instead, I can look back and go “Oh right, my family had been on a two day road trip, I hadn’t really been sleeping or eating anything that wasn’t white or beige, nor had I been drinking water -- that’ll do it!” Because at this point I am pro at managing them -- or at the very least anticipating them.
My grown-up relationship with my panic attacks (and the sexy breathing exercises I do to keep them from being truly the worst) has given me just enough distance from them to be able to see the funnier aspects of the aforementioned attacks.
To that end, here are five vaguely hilariously things that have triggered my panic attacks over the years.
1.) The Movie "Insomnia"
Is that the one where Al Pacino goes to Alaska to solve a crime and then can’t sleep and begins to quietly go mad? Yes, yes, I’ve Googled to be sure, that's it. Robin Williams and Hillary Swank are there. It’s a party.
Anyway, this one set off a panic attack not because it was so scary but because I became so bored that I was left with nothing else to consider other than what it would be like to live in Alaska if you’ve already got sleep problems and then I quietly convinced myself that because of how life is, for some reason I would be sent to Alaska and then never sleep again. I NEVER CLAIMED THERE WAS LOGIC TO THESE.
2.) A Pastry The Size Of My Head
My mom convinced me to join the swim team as a youth with assurances that for every week of practice I attended she would buy me the pastry of my choosing. Which is hilarious. One night, while falling asleep I realized that it had been my pastry day and I HAD FORGOTTEN. I became positive this was because I had brain cancer. A fun night was had by all. I quit the swim team shortly thereafter.
3.) A Potted Plant
During a particularly bad spot, I became positive that the potted plants outside the window of the room where I slept in college were all dying. Thinking about them dying made me think about me dying. Thinking about dying IS THE WORST PART OF A PANIC ATTACK. It was this particular incident that made me get back on the brain pills. And there was much rejoicing.
4.) Devon Sawa
When I was a kid I used to write letters to celebrities almost constantly. I wrote to Devon Sawa the most. I once bought him a single stud earring at Claire’s -- you know, for his ear. Only one celebrity wrote me back -- Ewan McGregor. (This is why I see all of his movies without hesitation.)
Upon receiving Ewan’s letter, it became clear to me that not only was Devon Sawa never going to write me back, but he probably had called Ewan McGregor to make fun of me, and Ewan, being a kind soul, had dropped me a courtesy 8x10 glossy. ALL THE ACTORS ARE OUT TO GET ME, PANIC ATTACK!
5.) My Cat
This winter I had to take my aged cat in to have most of his teeth removed. I stupidly took the whole day off work. You know, all the better to sit in my apartment FREAKING OUT about what was happening to my cat, and just what language the vet would use to tell me he was dead. I was on the verge of emailing my HR team to ask about bereavement leave when I realized what was up and began my previously discussed sexy breathing.
Panic Attacks aren’t fun. But they can be funny. Are you a panicky person, what ridiculous things have set you off, what are your triggers? IS YOUR TRIGGER ARTICLES ABOUT IT? OH GOD I DIDN’T THINK OF THAT. What about Devon Sawa, you guys? What about him? What’s he doing?