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home : columns : ashlyn martin August 18, 2017

5/22/2017 4:27:00 AM
Ashlyn Martin: Living with a sense of dread
About Ashlyn Martin
Ashlyn Martin is our Spring 2017 Hauser intern for HSJ Online. She is a junior at Hauser Junior-Senior High School. She is an avid reader and writer who also loves playing the piano. She writes all the time, unless she is busy painting or reading. She has completed one book, which she is in the process of self-publishing. Her main goal, her dream aspiration, is to become an art therapist at a children's hospital, because she loves working with kids.

By Ashlyn Martin

When people hear the terms "panic", "anxiety", "panic attacks", and "anxiety attacks", they find it difficult to differentiate between everything because many of those terms seem pretty interchangeable.

At times they are, but at other times, those words mean two entirely different things.

For this piece, I want to explain the other two disorders that play hand in hand, and fit together like puzzle pieces with my OCD. They are called Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Attack Disorder.

With Generalized Anxiety Disorder, it is more like you are living under a haze of this constant feeling of dread and fear, almost paranoia, but about nothing specific. It is simply that feeling like something threatening is following you and won't leave you alone, that it goes wherever you go. Anything you see or do gets filtered through that lens of anxiety. It makes living incredibly difficult.

On the other hand, there is what we call panic attacks. They are like sudden bursts of immense anxiety, paralyzing and extremely frightening. They usually don't last as long as or stay steady over an extended period of time like regular old anxiety, but they tend to have much worse physical repercussions. Panic attacks involve things like feeling that your heartbeat is racing out of control or that you're suffocating and have to gasp for breath. You get shaky and nauseous.

On several occasions, my panic attacks have started with the room spinning, and then it felt like suddenly I couldn't breathe. It feels like you are literally dying. Though the worst part tends to only last for 10 to 20 minutes during an average panic attack, I have had some that have lasted upwards of a few hours.

This is just another thing trying to step in my way and ruin the day.

I keep going.

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