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on panic attacks

so after finaly getting to see the evaluation i got from a psych last january, i found myself surprised to see that his ‘diagnosis” was something like:

mixed anxiety-depression with features of panic disorder and major depression.

you know i only realized like, less than a year ago, that i”ve been having panic attacks for years?

depending on where you look, symptoms for panic attacks may or may not list something like ‘a feeling as though you need to go to the bathroom”, which (combined with a few other symptoms) more or less describes how i experience panic attacks.

i”ll get on transit (this is where i have most of my panic attacks) and not long after, i”ll start feeling like i need to poop this very instant or else. but bc i don”t know where to get off to maybe find a washroom (while knowing there will be one at my destination) the feeling of being trapped, etc, over takes me.

you know what the main problem with this panic attack symptom is? is that once the feeling hits, i always actually have to use the washroom. and urgently. it makes it really difficult to calm myself down without medication (i normally manage it be memorizing various places on my route where i can get off in an emergency to use the washroom + deep breathing).

but i haven”t always made it to a washroom in time. yes, this means shitting my pants in public. which, again, only feeds into the problem because i know that the urge is real and that if i can”t get myself under control or to a washroom, i might actually shit my pants. on the bus. or wherever.

(unhappily, this has been compounded by the trans-related anxiety about public restrooms.)

i”m mostly writing this bc i pretty much never heard anyone describe their panic attacks like mine (googling for this will show that it is common enough). i suspect a lot of people (like me) learn to disguise their panic in public bc added attention would only make it worse. according to the DSM, you only need like four symptoms off a fairly broad list to get DXd with panic disorder.

the way you panic might not look like pop culture shows it. i used to read a lot of teen wolf fanfic and stiles, in a lot of fic, will have a panic attack. most writers will show him having the ‘classic” symptoms (hyperventilating, pulse racing, sweating) and it being generally fairly noticeable to the people around him.

your panic attacks don”t have to look like this to be ‘real” and for you to have a disorder.