Mental Health Series: Panic Attacks – Delaney

What’s your general panic attack (or PA) story?

I started having Panic attacks when I was about 15. I’m currently 17. They developed when I was dealing with an eating disorder and depression as well. I had always dealt with anxiety but it kept getting worse as other parts of my life started feelings like they were out of my control. I haven’t had a panic attack in a while but there was once a time when I’d have them multiple times a week.

What do your panic attacks generally feel like?

So for me, it starts off as isolating myself and being very dissociative and finding a lot of things very overwhelming. It feels like I have walls closing in and everything is too much. Then I sob uncontrollably and sit down bc everything would feel like too much and too out of control.

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Have you ever had a panic attacks while running?

Yes, multiple times actually. My coaches have been great about it. Sometimes, especially during races, I play games with myself and overwhelm myself to the point where I shut down mentally and either have a PA during or after the workout or race. My mental health issues and running kind of go hand in hand bc I was a decent runner when I started having issues but I had solely relied on running as my only way to cope with issues I was having mentally. It worked until I got injured and everything got way out of hand bc running was my only way of dealing with things. This lead to panic attacks bc I didn’t know how to deal with these feelings and emotions I was having. I now have a healthy relationship with running and know how to deal with things better.

How have panic attacks affected your training?:

It has effected my training but has effected my racing even more. There have been times during races or workouts when I get into my head so much and I’ll completely break down. There were times when I couldn’t finish a workout bc I’d get so overwhelmed and I would have a PA.

How has managing your panic attacks morphed over time?

I used to just run to deal with it until I got injured. The injury was a blessing in disguise bc it forced me to manage my PAs in a different way and establish a healthy relationship with running. I’ve tried a lot of different things such as writing, drawing, talking and removing myself from the situation.

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What has helped you manage them most successfully?

I feel like writing out what I feel or talking to people when I have or am about to have a PA helps the most.

What has been helpful for the people around you to do during a panic attack?

To sit down and try to get me to talk ab everything going through my head and what exactly I feel.

What advice, support or encouragement would you offer someone else struggling with panic attacks?

Find what works best for you when you have a PA and don’t rely on only one thing to deal with them!

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for doing this!

This Mental Health Series on panic attacks was created to help us all feel less alone in our anxiety. If you’d like to contribute to the project, please submit your own story here: Panic Attack Survey.

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