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When My Boyfriend Saw Me Having a Panic Attack for the First Time

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When I first started dating my boyfriend, I disclosed to him both of my chronic illnesses, Crohn’s disease and bipolar disorder. I have incredibly low self-esteem and felt like nobody would ever love me. I thought that those who would date me would inevitably leave at the first sign of my anxious tendencies since I can be emotionally draining.

I have been with my boyfriend for three years and have been living with him for one. Last week, he witnessed one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had. He’s always been supportive, but usually my anxiety seems likes nonsense since I worry about the most minute things. This time however, I wasn’t thinking about anything specific and out of nowhere, my body decided to enter fight or flight mode.

I was laying on the couch watching a movie with my two kittens and my boyfriend when suddenly, my throat and chest began to tighten up. My nose had been itchy that day (I’m possibly allergic to our cats). I thought that perhaps I was having some allergy symptoms, so my boyfriend grabbed me some allergy medication. It didn’t take long for me to realize that this was, in fact, the beginning of a panic attack. I began to panic the more I focused on what seemed to be a closing throat and stood up to walk around and take some deep breaths. My heart started to race. My boyfriend told me I looked very pale and both of my legs began to shake uncontrollably.

As the look of fear became readily apparent on my face, he came to my side and began rubbing my back and telling me everything is and would be OK. I could clearly see his look of concern and since he’s often difficult to read emotionally, I knew that he must be genuinely worried about me. I try to hide my symptoms as much as possible, but he knows when I start bouncing my legs, get quiet out of nowhere or randomly get into the shower to try to calm myself, I’m panicking about something.

I realized after that episode how lucky I am to have someone by my side that loves me, even if I feel like “damaged goods,” and someone who is not worthy of such an amazing person. There are still times when I ask him why he’s with me because I am so much to deal with emotionally. He always shakes his head and says I’m being ridiculous. He is the only man I’ve been with that I’m not afraid of leaving me because of diseases I can’t control. He’s understanding when I’m too anxious to go to a social gathering, or even if my Crohn’s is acting up and I need to be home near my own bathroom and bed. He may not ever understand what it’s like to feel trapped in your own head, having irrational thoughts that you can’t control or how silly it is that sometimes I can’t even order a pizza over the phone due to my fear of the social interaction. He may get frustrated sometimes and tell me I have more control over it than I think I do, and in turn, it may make me feel weak, even if he’s just trying to help.

For my entire life, I’ve always cringed whenever I got a compliment, but often times, actions speak louder than words with him, and I know how grateful I am to have a partner that truly accepts me for who I am. It was an incredibly stressful and upsetting situation, but I’ve realized that he’s the only person that has ever been able to help me calm down and that really means something.

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Thinkstock photo via Design Pics

Originally published: August 7, 2017
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