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I was an 18-year-old fool blinded by love as we all have been at some point in our lives. I’m okay with admitting it now, because as women, we all have that ONE person that makes us completely lose good common sense and rationality for a chance at a happy ending.
You know who I’m talking about.
You’re ready to start making lifelong plans because your heart truly believes you’ve found a genuine Boaz; well endowed physically and spiritually.
God did that.
I’ll spare you all the extremely juicy details because 1) this article is about my first panic attack, not him 2) y’all don’t need to know ALL my business and 3) I’m still embarrassed about how foolish I acted with my first love. Just know that I’ve learned from my experiences 10 times over.
Had you told me I was dealing with a f*ckboy then, I would’ve called you a liar. He could do no wrong in my eyes. However, looking back on it now, I had reached supreme levels of fuckery without even knowing it.
I remember the first day I saw him. He was the new kid at school and wandering aimlessly around the cafeteria. I introduced myself to him and we had a quick conversation. That was that. He slowly became a part of my circle of friends and before long, he was my best friend. We did everything together, I would help him with his homework, braid his hair, he even came to my house after school.
Here’s the bonus…my parents liked him.
Isn’t that how all these teenage love stories start, best friend turned lover? Then I had to realize that I wasn’t a white girl in a cheesy romcom. Hell, I wasn’t even Laura Winslow. I was a smart black girl in a hood high school dealing with a guy that had grown man experience. The signs were all there. This guy was no good for me He took my Verizon card exactly one month before my 18th birthday and then it was all downhill. Fast forward 365 days.
ast forward 365 days.
As you can imagine, teenagers practice the art of mating like rabbits. In my mind, I’m living on cloud 9. Student-athlete with her whole future ahead of her, ready to apply for college and start a new chapter in life with her best friend/boo/boyfriend at her side.
Boy, was I wrong.
While I was living in my fantasy world, he had a girlfriend the whole time and I never knew. While I was in AP classes, “hanging out” with him every day, studying and doing things that well-rounded teens do, he found time to hang out with her too. When I think of how busy my schedule was as a student-athlete and how he didn’t participate in anything after school, I see how he found the time.
My world came crashing down right before prom when I found out he was taking her instead of me.
We began fighting all the time and slowly but surely we began drifting apart. He tried to blame our disagreements on the fact that I was about to go off to college and he didn’t know where his life would end up. Typical victim blaming. He had a hold on both my mind and heart. My irrational thinking was out the window.
I didn’t realize he was stupid either.
Once prom came around, despite my protests, the two of them went together. As for me? I went alone. The guy I asked to prom stood me up. I later found out that he lied and said his cousin died, but that’s a story for another day. I sure know who to pick real winners.
Needless to say, my senior prom was shitty. I spent the night crying in the bathroom instead of enjoying myself. The night came and went.
As the days counted down towards graduation, I discovered that my boyfriend was not only dating the other girl, but that he had also slept with my other “friends” behind my back. Homie was also staging a smear campaign against me. Those same people I used to call “friends” no longer trusted me and thought I was crazy. I didn’t have anyone to turn to.
I had reached my breaking point.
I’m not the type of person to breach privacy, but he left me with no choice. I went through his phone. If you go looking for something, you will find it. That was when I knew that everything bad I had suspected was true. We began arguing with him eventually knocking the phone out of my hands, accusing me of not trusting him.
The rose colored glasses were finally off.
I remember this day as if it was yesterday. My first panic attack in high school. The experience was so vivid and traumatic. I ran to the bathroom and began to throw up. Between crying, vomit and hyperventilating, I became virtually paralyzed with loneliness, anger, guilt, disappointment, and sadness. He stood at the doorway the entire time and watched me. He never tried to help me.
I experienced my first panic attack in front of the boy I loved and he didn’t even care.
Summer 2008 went down as one of the worst periods in my life. I didn’t know how to take life’s Ls with style and grace, so I lashed out. I went into a depression and tried to blast my exes. Yes, exes plural. There are levels to this.
I allowed myself to become one of those girls on Facebook who airs out their dirty laundry on the Internet.
Yes, it’s true.
It’s clear now that I should’ve applied the principle of Kelly’s verse on “Survivor”.
However, I didn’t. My relationship(s) ended horribly and my first year in college suffered tremendously. I went off to school August 2008 and by the time I came home for fall break, I had lost 30 pounds opposite of the dreaded Freshman 15. The constant thoughts of high school and public embarrassment sent me to dark space. I only ate salads and sandwiches, worked out for almost 2-3 hours every day, and slept. I was so emotionally drained that I would even wake up in the middle of the night and vomit. I was officially at my lowest low.
Did I mention my pregnancy scare? No. Ok. Cool.
We’ll pretend you didn’t read that part either.
I have since moved on because, you know, I’m grown now. I’ve had time to process my growing pains and cut myself some slack. Other young women my age weren’t so lucky. I made it out with a few scrapes, but nonetheless, I made it through this period in life more complete than when I began.
My mid-20’s are less intense. I grew up but the panic attacks never outgrew me. And the first step was consulting an online therapist.
In this sordid tale of high school romance, my anxiety is triggered by an overwhelming load of emotions, some rational and some irrational. For me, they are derived from feelings of betrayal and abandonment. This can happen to anyone. It is not age or gender specific. Panic attacks can be brought on by someone you love without them even knowing or caring. Your panic attack may only occur once or like me, you may deal with them on unexpected occasions.
What you have to do is take control of your thoughts when you feel yourself buried and overcome with emotion. Most importantly, you have to realize that you’re not dying and the feeling with pass. Try breathing exercises, calling the one person that can calm you down or taking sips of water, even juice concentrating on the sips, not your rapid breathing. Through it all, realize that the feeling is temporary and you are not alone.