Finding out what triggers a panic attack is helping me to control my panic attacks. I am finding that, even through the worst situations, I know what I need to avoid to find a peaceful mental health and balance in my life.

I chose to write about triggers today because I learned one of my triggers earlier this evening.  Triggers when you have panic disorder, as some of you might already know, are usually people, places, events or memories that cause you to lose control of a panic attack.  Its like an usual amount of stress that breaks free and causes you to lose control and forget all the things that you know about controlling a panic attack.  Despite the fact that I have been dealing with panic disorder for over ten years, I still don’t know all my triggers and sometimes I do know the triggers but I used to think I could learn to live with it.  For example, I knew coffee was a trigger and yet I continued to drink it, then one day I decided I would switch to decaf to see how I felt and I stopped having the early morning panic attacks that had become a familiar daily routine.  So today I found another trigger that I have known subconsciously was always a trigger but I ignored my gut feeling (I will get back to the gut thing in a bit).

I used to always be okay with confrontation, chaos, and drama when I was younger because generally I was the one causing it.  I would be the gossip, the a-hole, the person who was confronting or the confrontee and I was fine with it in my youth.  I would sometimes get a little uncomfortable, but generally speaking, I was that chic who just said, “screw it, come and get it if you dare.”  I am not proud of those moments, but I am who I am.  As soon as I gave birth to my first child, I started to dread confrontation.  I don’t want to fight with people or be in arguments or have to defend myself because now I am trying so hard to prove I am not that person anymore.  The problem is that people have a way of holding your checkered past against you.

Anyways, the back story is that there is this girl who started more drama with me today.  Before you begin to judge her, she is a young and very immature 23 year old. Since I have known her, we have either been best buds or worst enemies, there is never an in between with her.  As you can imagine, right now, we are worst enemies.

So long story short, in the past she has lied to me, hurt me, betrayed me, uninvited me to her wedding and demanded that my boyfriend be in attendance, talked badly about me, started rumors about other people talking badly about me, and attempted on numerous occasions to break up my boyfriend and I.  Despite how bad that all sounds, and believe me this is 100% not a joke, she has had a messed up life so I do often cut her some slack for that reason.

Well today, I saw a message in my “other” folder on Facebook and it was her.  I tried to respond to her message and she had blocked me.  I spoke to my boyfriend about it and he told me that I could message her on his account to check on her and make sure all was okay.  I messaged her being very nice and trying to make amends for our last fight.  The last fight was when she had given me her password to Facebook so I could get copies of messages with a girl who was harassing and cyber-bullying her.  While I was getting these messages I noticed a message she sent to her sister about me.  I decided to check it out, which I am aware is totally not cool but I let curiosity get the best of me.  As soon as I opened the message, I wished I hadn’t.

Here I was helping her out when I had a million other things to do while she was telling her sister and a mutual friend that I was forcing her to throw her baby shower at my house, demanding my child be present (though she wanted no kids at the shower), and that her sister needs to tell me to “shut up” because I was “freaking out” about her wanting to cancel her baby shower.  I was worried that she wouldn’t get everything she needed and didn’t want her to feel like she couldn’t celebrate the babies coming birth, but “freaking out” is a serious exaggeration.  Also I would like to add that I spent time and money picking out gifts for her baby and felt very sad about not being able to give them to her.

For a long time, I didn’t say anything about the messages because I didn’t know how to say anything.  I was snooping, I was wrong for that, but I saw my name and felt like I should know if she was bad mouthing me and guess what, SHE WAS!  I was sitting here buying her baby all this stuff, helping her with a cyberbully, dealing with the investigator who was bought into the case to keep her from getting stressed out, and sitting on the phone with her while she was super upset about how much damage this girl was doing to her reputation.  All the while, she was saying all this crap about me to other people and lord only knows what other things she was saying about me. Not all of this was a trigger for me, but it was the beginning of a lot of drama to come. The first trigger was wondering and worrying about what other horrible things (true or not) that she was saying about me to the people that are mutual in our lives.

So after a while, I finally decided to confront her nicely about the messages because on that night she was bad mouthing her sister so badly, it began to make me uncomfortable. I usually stay out of it and let her vent but the things she was saying were horrible!  So I basically said, why do you talk crap about everyone including me, and sent her screenshots (again, not a fine moment of mine).  I said, jokingly, stop being a butthole and talking about everyone.  She started out saying (not sorry, not I didn’t mean it) but “Did my sister send that to you? How did you get that?”. Okay, even though I participated in being wrong here, and I own my blame in this situation 100%, I was like REALLY!! No sorries or I was having a bad day and didn’t mean it?  Fine, thank you for showing me why everyone is telling me to not get too close to you.  Thank you for showing me that no one, not even the one who has been there through thick and thin, means a damn thing to you.

So then she found a way to turn the conversation around and make it my fault that she wrote these comments and proceeded to say that those messages were private and you weren’t supposed to be snooping.  That is a super power not many people possess to be able to find a way to make someone else the bad guy when they are WRONG!  It is really interesting to me how someone can suddenly do something wrong and find a way to turn it around and make it your fault! To be fair, if she had said sorry for doing that but it is completely not okay for you to go through my private messages, fine I will apologize and we will move on, but sadly that wasn’t the case.  And that is yet another trigger for me.

I began to feel really uncomfortable and panicky, questioning if I was the only person to blame for this suddenly combative conversation. It took me a few days of feeling terrible, blaming myself, then I spoke to my boyfriend, my mother, and other various people about it.  Normally I try not to involve my boyfriend in every spat with people and it isn’t something that used to happen often to me when we first started dating, but he said, she was wrong, you called her on it and now she wants to try and make it your fault so she doesn’t have to be responsible for her actions.  I felt relief when he agreed but I still felt bad for my part.  I didn’t hate the girl, I felt like she was lost and lashing out on everyone because of the cyberbully debacle, so I just chose to give her space.  Oddly enough, even though I was not at all being threatening or mean in the conversation, she got so uncomfortable she told me to “please do not contact me again”.  For someone who was trying to make me the bad guy, she certainly succeeded in making herself look like the perfect victim.

After not speaking to her for a while, I got this message today from her, and she had blocked me so I couldn’t respond.  My boyfriend said go ahead and use my account to message her back, so I did, in an attempt to smooth over the past dramas because he is part of his family.  Of course when you combine a 30ish week pregnant woman with a very immature and, after what happened today, mean person the outcome is never good.  Instead of making amends, I had to yet again defend myself to messages about how she was right and I was wrong, that I was “petty”, and tried to say I had searched her messages for my name (which is 100% not true, calling me immature for looking (in fairness thats slightly true),  and blah blah blah, with a “please leave me alone” at the end.  I said whatever, I guess this is what it is and didn’t bother to message her back, because people like her say a bunch of B.S then block you so you have no chance to defend yourself. It’s a huge trigger for me when someone bashes my emotions then walks away like a jerk so that they don’t have to bother hearing what you have to say.  I normally don’t care unless it’s someone I felt close to at some point and I was super close with her.

After the conversation, she proceeded to call and text my boyfriend as soon as he got home, acting like she is tattling on me for using his account to contact her.  I would never, NEVER, log into my boyfriends account without his permission.  I am not snooping his stuff. I trust him and I would never deny him access to my Facebook or any other account, so we are pretty open about that stuff.  She thought that by telling him (mind you she is a family member of his) that he would attack me and start a shit show.  This girl loves to set off metaphorical “gossip” bombs and watch from a distance as things fall apart for her enemies.  I’m not her only victim, in fact she spent a lot of time trying to convince me to leave my boyfriend (her own blood), and he saw the many messages she sent trying to convince me he was narcissistic amongst other things.

The phone call and subsequent text messages to my boyfriend made me so angry and set off some strong panic attacks, and that’s when I decided I can’t have anything to do with her.  She is a toxic person who, in my experience, loves to hurt people.  I strongly believe she is incapable of love or even respect of others.  I have read a lot about mental health in preparation for this blog, as well as spoken to many psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists, and then read many articles about psychosis and borderline personality disorder which both come to mind when I think about her at all.  That is when I realized that I cannot be friendly with people who are this toxic anymore because it upsets me so much and triggers my panic attacks.  I don’t blame or hold people responsible for their issues, I feel sorry for them, but I cannot keep trying and trying and getting hurt in a merry-go-round of similar instances and blatant disrespect.

So that’s it, no more people like this in my life as I have come to realize that this is a huge trigger for me.  No more unstable, toxic, mean, and/or hurtful people.  People who can so easily cast a person who cares about them aside as if they aren’t important are the most insensitive people in the world.  It truly makes me wonder if they even notice how much pain they inflict, and if so, do they even care? I have far too many wonderful people in my life to let someone continuously hurt me.  I have learned, as of recently, that no matter who the person is, be it family, close friends or coworkers, if someone makes me feel like I can’t control my anxiety, stress or panic level, they probably shouldn’t be in my life.  Even if it was my own mother (which it isn’t), I would have to start putting my own mental health first and cut my communication with her for my own sanity.

When to Trust my Gut with Panic Disorder

As promised, the gut thing is an important part of my story as whole.  See I never trust my gut anymore because of panic disorder.  I always blame myself in every situation that is bad because I believe I am cursed because I have panic disorder.  I know it’s not rational thinking to feel that way, but panic disorder is centered around irrational thinking, primarily irrational fear.  So only recently, meaning the last two months, have I started to try to trust my gut again and to believe that sometimes I am capable of a healthy discomfort in a social or emotional situation.  I strongly dislike being vulnerable because of panic attacks.  I don’t like that I let people influence me to make poor choices, to feel discontent with myself and my relationship, and that it was easy for someone who enjoys toying with people to find a way to help me in destroying my self confidence.  This is a new goal for me, to avoid people who are going to make me question my gut feelings and aim for people who will treat me like a person and not a pawn in some evil, twisted game they decide to play on a whim. Maybe this newfound strength will help me on my journey to breaking free from panic disorder.

Niki Maria

Niki Maria

I am a student and I am currently studying to become a Neuropsychological Researcher. I have a passion for helping people find the strength to deal with life and love and sharing the stuff I am learning in school. I also absolutely love music, and while I am no Mariah Carrey or Beyonce, I love to write and sing my own songs for fun. It is awesome stress relief.


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