September 14, 2015

Why I am Thankful for my Panic Attacks.


The day I became suicidal because of medicine…

Waking up tired.

First thought: “The medication did make me sleep.”

First action: Check my phone. You did not call last night.

Flashback: Yesterday at the psychologist. He said that I never felt safe, protected and secure. That’s true. So I type: “Am I safe with you?”

I tell you, that it must be the medicine, but that I have been thinking already three times that the only solution to “problem me” is to die. And that this thought scares me. I am so scared that I might harm myself.

I have been depressed for nine months. And a full blown depression, with panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and self-hurt. I work in humanitarian aid and after nine months of trying to cure myself and of many failed attempts to control my panics, I finally allowed myself to go home to try to get better.

I was leaving my boyfriend behind in the war torn country we both worked in. We got together in the most romantic way: under skies scattered with stars, next to the river Nile surrounded by undiscovered pyramids. We survived 10 months in a long distance relationship across war zones.

I quit my job, we traveled for months, saw many gorgeous beaches and then I joined him. Outside we were a picture perfect couple; our pictures scored many likes on Facebook. Inside our small room, the nine depressed months had been heavy for him. I was embarrassed because of my miserable state and uncontrollable panics. I was terrified to lose him. The night before I left, he said “inky pinky promise, we will make it.”

The panic and the itchiness over my body continues.

I cry.
I scream.
I run around.
I lay down.

I write you my thoughts, my fears. They control me. I know it is not rational and that it is not the reality. But I cannot stop. I need silence. Please give me silence.

Please head, stop thinking.

I throw my phone on the floor. Again. And again. And again. It is finally broken, but there is no silence.

I am going crazy. It does not stop. My mother comes home. She holds me.

I cry.
And shake.
I am trembling all over my body.
The drooling starts again.
The tears do not stop.
Please panic, please stop. Please stop controlling me.

I let myself fall on the floor. My mother holds me and tells me that it takes two weeks for the medicine to start working… but that day one is nearly over. I cry-say something unclear that boils down to “it never ends” and that I cannot do this for two weeks. I ask her if I will ever get better. I tell my own mother that I do not want to live anymore. I do not have any will power left.

And then…you send me an e-mail, to break up.

I collapse, I scream, I cry.

Hours and a visit to the emergency psychiatric emergency department later, the medicine stops working. I calm down. The trembling stops. The fear stops. The fog in my head disappears and the train of thoughts in my brain finally derails. I realize you left my life, right when I needed you more than ever, by simply clicking on a send button.

During the 2012 Olympics, there was an ad in the London tube. With an old, grey, wrinkly couple…the quote next to these cute people was, “We are from the time that, when things were broken…you fixed them, you did not throw them away.”

Rather than being sad or lost, I felt calm. My panic attacks forced my boyfriend to show his true colours. Despite the most romantic promises, he would rather throw me away. The most beautiful words and a picture perfect selfie couple, can be so empty.

My panic attacks were just a way of my body saying no to a relationship and a way of living that was not mine. I kept on trying to fit in and adjusting myself to whatever others were expecting. My panic attacks were showing me that I was fooling and losing myself. Mr. and Ms. Panic Attack were telling me that something was broken, and that I should not throw myself, my values and my life away.

In a fast life with Facebook, Tinder, low budget flights to exotic locations, superfood smoothies, selfies and golden “champagne iPhones,” there is only shame surrounding topics such as anxiety, depression and panic attacks. It might be hard to see when you suffer from them…but anxiety, depression and panic attacks are not dark monsters. They show us, who will stand by our side during dark times and until we are old and wrinkly.

They are telling us that we should not throw ourselves away, and that we can fix ourselves.


Loving a Fearless Sensitive Warrior.


Author: Lotte de Bruyn

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Hartwig HKD

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