Panic Attacks Suck


March 7th, 2018


Panic attacks suck.

If you’ve ever had one, you know how I felt on October 31st, 2016.

I’d just finished my avo toast (basic, I know) when suddenly the evening of August 15th rushed through me. (I don’t think we are close enough yet for me to explain exactly what I went through, but that link will give you an idea.)

My palms felt as if they’d been dipped in a large body of warm water. My heart raced as if I’d just ran my first mile in 200 years. My mind surged with anxiety and fear. 

I’m sorry. 

That’s what trauma does to you. It makes you feel, well, sorry. Sorry and disappointed. Sorry that I stopped pursuing a dance career. Sorry that I couldn’t be with you anymore. Sorry I was diagnosed with some bizarre intestinal bullshit (pun intended). Sorry I couldn’t be there with you during the toughest time of your life. The list went on. 

In hindsight, I was only really sorry because I felt sorry for myself. None of these apologies had anything to do with the evening of August 15th, but they all felt like they did. 

September 1st, 2016. It was the end of what my pre-graduated self thought was the beginning. Dance was hard, working in dance was harder, and not making enough money to work in dance was the hardest. I knew my job at Gibney Dance wasn’t the right fit, but I still apologized at my exit interview. I was sorry I was giving up on a dream. I was sorry to be leaving such a positive and welcoming community. I was sorry this job wasn’t as fulfilling as I had hoped. My 22-year-old self thought it was her fault, that I just wasn’t cut out for this world. Little did she know she had a splendid opportunity waiting for her. 

I was offered something better. I’m sorry.

October 5th, 2016. I was sick. Really sick. My thyroid was messed up. My stomach was in knots. I gained 10 pounds. Everything I loved to eat (quinoa, peanut butter, beans, leafy greens…) didn’t love me back. For a while, all I could eat was chicken, carrots, and white bread. Going out to eat with friends was now at the bottom of my to-do list. I apologized to everyone about my diet restrictions. I hated when friends and family tried to accommodate me. I felt uncomfortable. I was struggling mentally to keep up with all these changes. I cried a lot. I had a lot blood tests. Lots of photos were taken of my insides. When the doctors finally took out the bad guys and put me on a ton of medication I apologized to myself.

I don’t know why this happened to you. I’m sorry.

December 3rd, 2016. I word vomited. If you don’t know what that means, please refer to this Mean Girls clip. Actually, everyone, watch the clip. 

I word vomited at my soon to be ex-boyfriend about why I didn’t call, text, or see him enough. I had a huge pit in my stomach throughout the conversation. I wasn’t in love with him anymore. I knew that he wasn’t my person. After a million apologies for not traveling to see him (he was in Boston, I was in NY), for not texting back, for not calling when I was meant to, for choosing to live in New York, for disappointing him, for working three jobs right after college so I could chase my dance dream, for spending more time with my family that one night... And then it came out.

I don’t want to be with you anymore. I’m sorry.

So I started to meditate and practice yoga. I took that that job, broke up with him, made new friends, and joined a dance company after work (hey DanceWorks!). Gradually, all those apologies began to say their goodbyes. 

I still think about this time in my life. I’ve even got a tattoo on my arm for it. The evening of August 15th really threw me for a loop. But hey, self-care works. And panic attacks just suck. 

I should have taken better care of you sooner. I’m actually sorry. 

Alex Hagney