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From On Top of the World, to a Panic Attack

Last week, I went on vacation. For me, going on a vacation is a huge accomplishment.

There was a time in my life where my psychiatrist considered me borderline agoraphobic -- vacation was out of the realm of possibilities in my brain. Through A LOT of practice - therapy, exposure exercises,  listening to talks, reading books, etc. I began to venture back out into the real world. Obviously, COVID put a halt on travel. 

After being vaccinated this year, I was eager to get out and do as many things as I could. So far, I had been successful in all of these endeavors! 

Recently, my sister and I planned and went on a mini vacation for a few days. This was the longest I have been away from him since pre-pandemic. I had some nerves but was confident it would be great. We had many activities planned and I was ready to kick anxiety's butt. 

On the first day of our trip, we did a pretty tremendous thing! We climbed a black diamond level volcano. Previously, I would have looked up at this mountain and saw anxiety written all over it; narrow paths, no bathrooms or rest stops, in direct sunlight, a steep incline, etc. 

Neither of us were prepared and we were not confident we would make it... but we did it! Of course, I headed over to Brb Panic Attack's Instagram account to boast about the achievement. I happily talked about how I was once riddled with so much anxiety I didn't even want to go on a walk in my neighborhood, and now here I was, at the top of a volcano peak!


Jillian stands upon the top of a Volcano

The trail signage showing the Black Diamond rating

View of the whole volcano showing it's height


And because life is funny like this, I experienced one of the worst panic attacks I've had in a while the following day (after all the bragging!). 

My physical symptoms were through the roof and I could not successfully stay calm. I absolutely needed an emergency Xanax.

Although the negative thought came into my mind, this was just a bump in the road NOT a set back. A huge difference between my recovery-mode self today and my past self is that I actively made the effort to not dwell on the anxiety attack and continued on the with my plans the next morning. Past me would’ve either been stuck in a panic loop or would have given up & hibernated. The road to recovery isn’t linear, keep going🖤

Photo saying: Mental health relapses happen; it doesn’t mean your healing is thrown out the window. Accept what comes and remember even the uncomfortable things are a part of the process.

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