Dear Hope: I Suffer from Panic Attacks

Dear Hope,Panic Attack
I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks and having to deal with them at school is really, really difficult. I have them in class quite frequently and I hate all the attention and everyone seeing, but I can’t control them, though I’m learning to. How am I supposed to deal with self-confidence issues when people tell me I’m having panic attacks for the attention!! I wish I could say I was…because then I wouldn’t have to deal with the constant panic, tiredness and feeling sick. But how do I deal with school? I’m just tired with having to be like this…being different…not being able to live a normal life and I want so much for it to go.
– Em

Dear Em,
There really is no “normal” life. Everyone has something that they deal with. Somethings just show up in bigger ways.

I’m glad to hear that you are learning to control your panic attacks.

You did not mention if your parents, school nurse, or teachers are aware. If they do not know, it is important that you inform them. They will be able to help you. If your teachers are aware, they will understand when you need a minute or if you need to leave class.

No one knows how you feel or what you are thinking except you. When you are experiencing a panic attack, it is real. It does not matter what other people think. As hard as it can be, you have to ignore them. They don’t understand what it feels like to have a panic attack. You know the truth about what you are going through. You cannot change how they act, but you can change how you react. One of the most important steps to having confidence is believing. Believe you have confidence. You are not doing anything wrong. You are not doing this for attention. This is not something you can completely control yet. When you feel comfortable, explain how you feel and what you experience. Sometimes people make fun of what they don’t understand. Tell your friends so you will have their support.

Many teens deal with panic attacks. There are many causes. Social anxiety, school anxiety, test anxiety. It’s important to show the attack who’s the boss. When people have panic attacks, the first instinct is to run away. To leave the situation. It’s better to stay where you are if you can. Teach the panic attack (the fear) that this situation is ok. The plan is that eventually this environment will not trigger you.

Remember, (if you haven’t done this already) tell the people who can help you!

Parents- They can take you to the doctor. They can help you get the skills to cope with this. They can also help you talk to your teacher.

School Nurse/Counselor – The nurse may have resources for you. They probably have already dealt with panic attacks affecting other students. They may have some ideas to help you at school.

Teachers – Help the teachers know what you are going through. Let them know what you need from them during a panic attack. Talk to them if you are having trouble in class or with the assignments. (A panic attack tip is to draw when you feel like you are losing your focus.) If a teacher is aware of your situation they won’t be upset if they see you drawing for a minute. They will understand you are working on calming yourself down.

Having people on your side will let you know you are not alone.

Before you leave for school, pump yourself up and visualize the day you want to have. It takes time to build self-confidence. If you have a bad day don’t get down on yourself. Think about what may have triggered you and what you can do different next time.

This is a learning process. You are so strong and still figuring this out.

Thank you for being brave and sending in your question.

Dear Hope


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