Every time my chest gets sore, or a sharp pain goes through my heart, two words come to mind: Heart Attack. Those two words trigger my panic attacks. They happen often, but on days that I eat sugary foods such as donuts or ice cream, the panic attacks are much more severe. Some nights I get very little sleep. I lie awake, thinking that soon the Grim Reaper would take my soul out of my body. I keep thinking, "How painful is this going to be? Will I have to stick a fist in my mouth so that nobody hears my screams of agony? How painful will the inevitable heart attack be?" Those questions, plus "Oh god, I'm dying!" go through my head every minute while the panic attack takes over my body. My left arm was sore, the chest pains were going on, I was sweaty, it had to be a heart attack.
Of course it wasn't a heart attack. I'm still alive. It was all in my head. All in my head. But when I admitted that I had panic attacks, the reactions from others was swift and harsh. According to my haters, I was "psycho," "loony," "crazy," among other things. Only freaks, they say, have panic attacks. I guess two million Canadians and eight million Americans are freaks, because that is the number of people in the two countries that have a panic disorder. Panic disorders aren't uncommon, and people shouldn't be judged for problems that they sometimes can't control.
Panic disorders may feel like heart attacks, but they're not. You may feel like you're dying, but you wake up the next day. Of course, it's always helpful to see a doctor, like I did. A doctor telling you that there's nothing wrong with you, that's very reassuring. I was relieved when my X-ray came back and I had a healthy heart. So when I have chest pains, I shouldn't be thinking "I'm dying," but "I'm going to be okay, this is normal. Millions of people are like me. And they're okay, they're coping, I can too."
About The Author
Matthew Frank Kot was born and raised here in Sault Ste Marie. He first starting writing articles for Soonews.ca in early 2008, becoming the city's youngest columnist and journalist. He then went on to write for Local2, and for a short time had his "MATTer of Opinion" column on SaultOnline.com. Matthew was very involved in the 2010 and 2014 Municipal Elections and wrote several opinion pieces about important issues. In 2011, Matthew started Sault Transit Reform and has continued advocating for a better transit system since then.