The First Time…I had a Panic Attack

Image by Monty Vern

By Carson Bohdi

It was August 2009, and I was visiting a small town called Sudbury Ontario. I was freshly fourteen. I spent half of the time in the city, and the other half at a trailer park near Lake Wanapitei, land owned by the Wahnapitae, an Ojibway First Nation. 

On the last night in Sudbury, I was in a car with four people. The person driving the car and another began to argue. and I remember wondering how long this all would last. At first, I assumed it would last four minutes, but after that time elapsed, anxiety began to creep in. 

The car began to speed up, and turns were loosened. Before I knew it, every person in the car was yelling and arguing. 

My head began spinning and I felt carsick, which is something I had never experienced before this, and never experienced since. I felt like my heart was pulsing beyond my chest cavity, my hands were tingling, my throat was dry like the Sahara desert…

and at some point, I felt this deep knowing along with my fear. 

We are going to get into a car accident if this continues. 

It was at this moment I began to grasp for air, because I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but I knew I had to get out of the car. At the same time, the driver was asking to drive us home that night; six hours, in a car, in the dark, after everyone was emotionally and physically exhausted. 

I finally said something; “pull over. I can’t breathe. I need air.” Thankfully, the driver obliged, but they were not happy about the situation.

 We pulled over right in front of a convenience store, next to the uphill road that leads to highway 6. I broke free from the car with a vigorous force, and shut the door behind me in similar ferocity. I began walking towards the store, crying and gasping. Everyone else stayed in the car as I broke down under muted parking-lot lights. 

Image by Monty Vern

After five minutes of panic and somehow recollecting myself, I got back into the car, and tensions were simmered. We all decided it was best to go back to where we were staying and drive home in the morning. 

This would be the first of many attacks I’d experience in my life. I would have them periodically for the next three years, and constantly for the next five years after that. It is something many people experience, and when it becomes a near daily occurrence, or a multiple times a day experience, it can cause an inability to function in daily life. This happens. It happened to me.

If you know someone who experiences anxiety, I urge you to practice patience and compassion with them. The fears they experience, whether imagined or unimagined, are very real in that moment. Console them in whatever way they need. To do that, discuss with the person different coping mechanisms that can help. 

For me, it’s ducks! Whenever I am anxious, I always look at duck pictures or I play The Duck Song from You tube, and I instantly smile.

If you experience anxiety, know that I am sending endless so much love your way. Your anxiety is valid, and you can face those fears. Everything is going to be okay.

I have linked a few different resources, if you feel compelled to learn more.

Notes on the Author & Illustrator

Carson; writer, poet, blogger/youtuber and lover of Ducks. We now understand why she is a lover of ducks. When we asked Carson to write a post for us we had no idea of the world we would enter. We are so grateful for Carson to be able to sit in her truth and express, to T.B.C and the wider community, what it feels like when a panic attack looms to take over your being. Please do visit Carson’s you tube channel here and join in the conversation about Mental Health and preservation of the self, which is becoming imminent by the hour. She quite the comedian too!

All illustrations provided throughout My First Time are original, bespoke works of Monty Vern. Monty has also
created “My First Time…Behind the Scenes” – a companion series to #MyFirstTime. In this exclusive series Monty allows us to take a walk through his mind when creating images for My First Time. A collaboration in every sense, when you get a glimpse into the inner workings of a creatives mind! Keep up with the whole series by following T.B.C and Monty Vern.

3 thoughts on “The First Time…I had a Panic Attack

  1. Wow what an experience! Thanks so much for sharing this and raising awareness. The worst part about panic attacks is that people don’t really think they’re real and react badly to anyone having one.

    Liked by 1 person

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