***I share this personally story of my panic attacks in hopes that it will help others. Before I was diagnosed with it I didn’t know what was happening to me. I thought I was having a heart attack. Usually I take my anxiety pills with me when I go on my little excursions but that day in my excitement I forgot it back at the hotel. I normally don’t take my pills unless I can’t calm down using breathing exercises but I always have it with me just in case. Knowing the pills are there gives me comfort and actually helps me calm down because I know it’s there and within reach. Unfortunately this that time we were miles from the hotel.
“Don’t look over the ledge, keep your eyes on the ground, ” I panted trying to tap down my escalating heartbeat as I glanced up at my two sisters and daughter. Forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other on the semi rocky trail up Diamond Head, was a massive feat. I was doing fine until half-way up the mountain, when the trail became more primative and steeper, my fear of heights nearly choking me and almost immobilizing my limbs the higher I climbed. At the half-way point I stepped aside to the lookout point, in an attempt to calm my rising fear… I can feel a panic attack coming on… the symptoms were there, the rapid heartbeat, the tingling sensation, the shortness of breath, the overwhelming sense of helplessness. Determined to conquer my fear of heights and panic attack, I forced myself to look at the mountain view, as the other hikers stopped as well to take pictures. Not wanting to draw attention to myself I started to take pictures of the view and listened to the groups’ conversation about the military history of Diamond Head. Slowly my heartbeat drops to a steady beat enabling me to step back onto the narrow rocky trail to follow the others, all the while telling myself that the top is almost within reach… just 99 more steps of stairs to climb, a long tunnel, a spiral staircase, a few more stairs before the 365 degree view of Oahu. NOTHING is going to stop me, not my fear of heights or my panic attack. With the song Ain’t No Mountain High enough… drumming in her head, I make it to the top just to take this picture and enjoy the view.
I would have missed this view if I had stopped.