Story Time | My First Panic Attack

by - 10:00

I asked on Twitter (@CAITYLOUX) what most people would like to see as this weeks blog post, and the majority voted for something personal. So today, I'm going to be telling you the story of my very first panic attack. Not many people know this story, perhaps two at most, and I hope that by sharing this story it will have a good influence on people. The majority of people in the world will suffer from a panic attack at least once, and while some people will only have one in their life, many, like me, 'suffer' on a more regular basis. I'm hoping that by sharing my very first experience, people who also suffer from panic attacks, or even people who just know someone who suffers from panic attacks, will take away something good from this, and hopefully feel more comfortable with sharing their own stories. 

The first time that I ever had a panic attack was on Tuesday 6th November 2012, and the reason I remember the date is because it happened at a Conor Maynard concert (very cool I know) at the O2 Academy, Newcastle. This was my very first concert ever, I was 14 years old, and the sole reason that I went to this concert was because the tickets were cheap and my friend asked me to go with her (I didn't even like Conor Maynard that much). 



Regardless of whether I liked Conor Maynard that much or not, I was very excited to go. It was my very first concert and I was so eager to hear some real live music. I had school that day beforehand, and I remember being so excited, I just wanted the school day to be over with so I could go already. As soon as school was over, I made my way home on the number 17 bus to start getting ready. When I was home, it was a race against time to get ready and get in line as fast as possible, so I quickly picked out an outfit and rushed my hair and makeup, I didn't even give myself the chance to eat before I left the house (HUGE mistake). But soon enough my friend and I arrived at the venue. At this point everything was fine, even though it was November and it was freezing, we were all fired up and ready to go. It was when we went into the venue that things started to go downhill...

If you've ever been to a concert at the O2 Academy, then you'll know that, apart from the balcony, the whole place is a standing venue. This meant that the couple hundred people who came to see Conor perform, were all piled into this one room and made to stand the entire time. This was an issue for me. Not only do I have social anxiety, but I also have a fear of being squashed, stuck and trapped, especially in small spaces packed with people. Funnily enough this never even crossed my mind before going to the concert, I was just so thrilled to be going, I couldn't think about anything else. What annoys me about that night was that the venue was actually big enough for everyone to fit in and have their own little space, but no, if you're going to a standing concert then you want to be as close to the front as possible, right? Yep. So everyone that went was trying to get as close to the front as possible, which also meant that everyone was squished up against each other so much that you couldn't even move. What made this even worse, me and my friends were right in the middle of the crowd (extra squash zone). When we first got into the venue and realised that I was going to be spending the entire concert trapped and surrounded by people that I didn't know, it did worry me, but I tried my hardest to move past it and look forward to the performance.

It felt like we were waiting a very long time for Conor to come on, there were two support acts and a DJ, who all had very long sets. We were probably waiting about 2 hours before Conor actually came onto the stage himself. During this time I began to get very hungry and dehydrated (due to not eating or drinking any water before I left), there was water that was getting handed out, but for some reason they were only giving it to people at the very front (frustrating or what), also, due to the amount of people in the venue, it had gotten EXTREMELY hot, and I had made the mistake of wearing a leather jacket. I tried repeatedly to take off my jacket to cool myself down, but unfortunately there were too many people squashing me that I literally couldn't move. After a while I decided to just deal with it.

9PM rolled around and Conor Maynard was ready to make his entrance on stage, I was still extremely excited, and clearly, so was everyone else. As soon as they started playing the music, everyone was pushing, shoving and jumping way more erratically than before. Little 14 year old me was getting pushed and pulled in a million different directions as people tried to get closer to the front. Not going to lie, I was petrified.

I felt very mixed emotions throughout Conors set, I was still excited to be there and I wanted to enjoy the music, but I was slightly overcome with anxiety. I was hot, dehydrated, hungry and worst of all, I was trapped. But at least I had my friends, right? Wrong.

At some point during the night, people started to get even more erratic than before (if that were even possible), people were pushing and shoving so hard that me and my friends literally had to cling onto each other to make sure that we didn't get separated. But we did get separated, or rather I got separated. And not only did I get completely separated from my friends, but I was pushed next to a group of, I'm guessing, 19-20 year olds who were drinking alcohol.

Ever since a young age, alcohol has always made me feel very uncomfortable, for what reason I don't know, but it has. Even now as a 17, almost 18, year old, it still makes me incredible uncomfortable and dare I say it, scared. To many people this isn't a problem at all, but it's an anxiety trigger for me, and it always has been. No matter how many times someone tells me "Oh it's alright, I'm a happy drunk!!", it doesn't matter. To me, I find any drunk person to be extremely intimidating, and whether you're a 'happy drunk' or not, you will always be the most feared thing for me.

So when I was pushed next to this group of loud and obnoxious alcohol drinkers, it didn't take to my liking. I was probably stuck next to them for about 15-20 minutes, and every minute of it was bloody terrifying. But eventually I did get reunited with my friends and I was so relieved.

For a while everything seemed fine, apart from the obvious of course. But it was nearing the end of Conors set and even though I hadn't heard my favourite song yet (which I think was 'Can't Say No') I was feeling strangely optimistic. And then, it hit me...

All of a sudden, my vision went all funny, it's hard to describe. I was very disorientated. Suddenly I couldn't breathe and I could feel this sense of intense panic automatically rush through me. My heart was beating so fast and so deep that I genuinely thought I was going to die, or at least pass out. I felt so distant from everyone and even though I was surrounded by hundreds of people, no one knew what was happening to me. I started shaking and I felt extremely weak. It might sound stupid, but I didn't know what was happening to me, so when it happened, all that was running through my head was "I'm going to die". This all happened within seconds, and to this day I've never been more scared in my entire life.

I was stood next to one of my friends so I attempted to get her attention so she could help me. I needed to get out of the venue, but I couldn't do it on my own. I remember finding it so difficult to let her know what was going on when the music was so loud and I was so disorientated I couldn't even piece together my surroundings. But after a minute or so, she realised that something wasn't right. I felt her grab my arm and she started to pull me out of the crowd, I heard her asking people to move out of the way, and it's strange because even though she was so close to me, her voice sounded miles away.

Finally, I was brought out of the crowd and there were no people pushed up against me anymore. I was still so weak, my legs felt like jelly, which made walking up the small set of stairs very interesting. She walked me to a member of staff who then led me to the bar and gave me water in a clear plastic cup, I drank the entire thing within seconds, although I'm surprised that I didn't spill any as I was shaking so much. He filled it again with more water, handed it to me, and then proceeded to lead me outside so I could get some fresh air.

I sat outside the venue trying to calm myself down, my friend was rubbing my back to make sure that I was okay. As I was beginning to get back to normal, I could hear Conor still singing inside, the music was so loud still, even from outside the venue.

As I started to feel more calm, I also started to feel a wave of guilt and sadness. I felt sad that I had let that happen to me, which is ridiculous since I have no control over it. I was in a lot of shock afterwards, I still didn't know what had happened to me and I was wondering how someone could go through something like that and still be alive. I also felt a great deal of guilt since I had caused extra stress to other people. Whenever I have a panic attack, the people around me experience it too, and I always think to myself that I'm just ruining their day because of my issues. I especially felt a lot of guilt this time since this concert was supposed to be a fun and exciting thing, but my friend didn't get to see the end of it because of me. It's still something that I feel bad about to this day, and I would like to apologise to that friend, you know who you are.

Conor started to play his last song, coincidentally, it was the song I had been waiting all night for. Even though I didn't get to see him perform it, at least I still heard him sing it. After that everyone began rushing out of the venue and we made our way home.

My first panic attack lasted around 20 minutes in total, and to this day it is still the most traumatic panic attack I have ever experienced. Luckily, I didn't actually experience another panic attack until 2014. Unfortunately, they have now become an every-other-day-thing. But I'm working on it.




Thank you so much for reading. If you liked this post, please make sure to share and follow. It would also mean a lot if you followed me on all of my social media.

Caitlin x 

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3 comments

  1. It's so good that you have shared your story. You can help so many people by sharing your own experience
    Ashleigh xxx
    www.not-a-typical-teenager.blogspot.com

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  2. Hi Caitlin, I'm not sure if you remember me from high school but I just wanted to say that I remember this night. All of the details described make it feel as if it were yesterday (though until now I was completely unaware of the details from your mind). I really admired your ambition when I was on Instagram and saw that you started your blog but reading it now (and particularly this story) has almost make me take a step back and think 'wow'. Your courage to write such personal stories is something I wish I could personally do. Reading this 4 years on has allowed me to look back and only hope that I was in someway helpful though can only apologise if there was something else I could have done to help at the time. I have the upmost admiration and respect and hope your panic attacks ease in time. Xx

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your comment, it's so sweet of you. Of course I remember you and believe me you were more than helpful, you couldn't have done anything else for me. Thank you so much for being there xx

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