My First Panic Attack (Navy, Mental Illness and Music Pt. 2)


I spent my 28th birthday in the hospital.

In May 2016 I started classes at Temple University – Japan Campus as an International Business Studies major.

I was with a group of some new friends I had made at my university and we were all going out to eat Yakiniku – which is a popular Japanese meal that consists of choosing various meats and cooking over a small gas grill – which was pretty frustrating for me considering the fact that I had just started on a vegetarian diet and wouldn’t have been able to eat the majority of the food.

Prior to this day, I noticed that I was having a lot of trouble focusing in my classes and felt lightheaded when I was talking in large groups of people. I had also been drinking very heavily and opting to go on long solitary walks from the university back to my apartment which would last from 4 to 5 hours long.

During these walks I would have long crying spells, then during the days leading up to my birthday, I started screaming out loud and was having very delusional thoughts.

On the day of my birthday, the birthday plans began with a complaint when I expressed interest in going to Karaoke. Then it was decided without my input that we would go to Yakiniku. I didn’t want to go to a Yakiniku, nor did I want to hang out with a large group of people. I wanted to go drinking in Yokosuka with my old friends, but I was trying to break away from my old lifestyle and try new things.

While we were on the train, I read an e-mail from my mom and my heart started racing.

As we were going through the train station I went into my “dream world”, which is a sensation I had been experiencing since I was a child where I’ll start feeling like I’m dreaming. I now know this to be derealization/depersonalization. I always assumed it was because I felt tired. A unique sensation began to occur as an adult wherein I would get the “startled” sensation repeatedly and feel like I was choking. These were my first symptoms.

I tried to hide this sensation from the group, but I started feeling scared and my friend asked me if I was okay because he saw me rubbing my temples. He asked me if I had eaten that day and bought I might be experiencing hypoglycemia. I ate a small bag of cheese crackers and we exited out of the station.

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Once we were outside of Ikebukuro station I started having severe heart palpitations and I felt like I was having a heart attack. I had been told I had high blood pressure as I was separating from the Navy, so in my head, this was certainly an aneurysm.

The rest of this is hard for me to remember because my mind blocked out a lot of it.

Everybody was running around trying to find sugary drinks because they still thought it was a hypoglycemia attack.

It became hard for me to stand so I had to kneel down. I started to scream obscenities and cry, but nothing came out. I told my friend I was going to die, it wasn’t fair because I had never done anything wrong.

My vision started getting fuzzy and I felt paralyzed.

It was an odd sensation because I was completely aware of everything that was going on around me, but had no control over my frontal lobe. I couldn’t make decisions, I could only respond to people.

After a while, a group arrived around me and a bilingual white guy cane up and helped call an ambulance. I thanked everybody for being good friends.

They asked me how I felt and I told them I felt confused, my state of mind was varying levels of confusion. It was the only way I was able to describe it.

I was a prisoner in my own mind.

My biggest fear is that I would pass out and never wakeup again.

The lights were going to go out.

I thought because of my Sleep Apnea that if I passed out on my back I would choke to death.

When the ambulance showed up they told me my pulse was over 200 beats per minute. My sense of time completely dissolved.

At the hospital, I lay on a bed and after about an hour my pulse and blood pressure were back to normal. They told me the heart palpitations were triggered by my thyroid, not by my heart.

The concept of time came back to me.

My friend came after about thirty minutes and told me the color had come back to my face and my pupils weren’t dilated anymore.

I woke up the next morning after having dreams about demons and death, fearing my heart would stop in my sleep.

My first panic attack lasted for two hours, but the effects lasted for over a year.

The next day was part two to this story…

(To be continued.)


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