Today’s #SameHere🤙Hero: Taylor Asfour. We haven’t touched a ton on stories of those who suffer with Panic Attacks, but Taylor’s description is extremely vivid and may help those who have never experienced them before, better understand how terrifying they can be. As is often the case, Taylor didn’t notice any one specific life event that caused the overall anxiety he fights, but rather it was an accumulation of a number of stressful events, over time.
While he found a good amount of relief after being prescribed the right medication to manage his symptoms, it’s incredible to hear that Taylor didn’t stop there. He shares that deep breathing, positive thought replacement, his faith, and the overwhelming support from family have contributed tremendously to his healing process.
“I’ve always been an anxious person. I can think of various instances during my childhood where I’d get anxious, but they were always isolated instances that weren’t intrusive to my life. That all changed in the fall of 2017. I was in the first semester of getting a Master’s degree, trying to plan a wedding, and studying and taking CPA exams. I don’t think it was one specific event in the fall that was my breaking point, it just gradually wore me down.
I remember it was a Saturday afternoon where I was driving with my fiancee to go watch my sister’s tennis match where I suddenly felt like I couldn’t breath. My chest tightened, I was sweating, my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest, and I thought I was going to pass out or throw up. I told my fiancee that I wasn’t feeling well and was debating turning around, but I decided to keep driving, and assumed that the feelings would subside once I got distracted at my sister’s match.
This didn’t happen. This was the start of a stretch where I was constantly fighting with my mind. I felt like I was on the brink of a panic attack at all times. I thought I would calm down after I took the CPA exam that I had been studying for, but that wasn’t the case. I thought I would calm down after the semester ended and I went home for Christmas break and that wasn’t the case either. Every day was a struggle. I could marginally cope when I was in a routine, but anything out of the norm put me on the brink of a panic attack.
I now know that I suffer from anxiety, and even some depression as a result. I don’t think I was anxious about any one thing, it was just a constant state of mind where I thought I would crack and lose control and have a panic attack. I had a tight chest, my heart would occasionally start beating extremely fast and I would start sweating, I was always tired, and I couldn’t enjoy the things that I normally enjoyed the most. It was intrusive into every aspect of my life, as even the most harmless and relaxing situations with the people I love would cause anxiety.
My fiancee knew the whole time that I was feeling anxious, but she had no idea of the magnitude. It was one night when I was home for Christmas break, watching a basketball game with my parents, when I told them that I had been feeling really anxious for the past few months, and I wanted to see my doctor. I was home on Christmas break without a stress in the world, and I still felt anxious. I knew it was time to do something about it, as I didn’t want every day to be such a struggle. I wanted to enjoy my last semester in college, my wedding, and my honeymoon, and not be fighting anxiousness throughout it all.
The first thing my doctor did was prescribe me to a low dose of an anti-depressant. I had always been scared to go on medicine because I didn’t want to become dependent on it, but he ensured that it was a very low dose that was not addictive. It wouldn’t be intrusive into my life (no serious side effects, and it wouldn’t impact my day to day living), and I could stop taking it whenever things calmed down and I felt ready to stop. I am so glad I listened to my doctor. Once the medicine really kicked in, which was about a month later, I felt totally back to normal.
I still have moments of anxiousness today, and breathing practices are what are most helpful to me during these moments. Just closing my eyes and taking deep breaths and thinking positively can keep my mind at bay. Finally, my faith has played a huge role in helping me to regain control of my mind. When I felt like I had no control, I fully relied on God because I know He always has control. I prayed constantly and quoted scripture to myself when I felt anxious. I reminded myself that my anxiousness is just part of my story that can inspire others, and that God’s power can be made known to myself and others through my struggles.
Everyone who knows my struggle has been extremely supportive. They respond with love and understanding, and they want to do anything to help. In fact, I have been surprised at the amount of people who have revealed to me that they are going through similar struggles. I would have never guessed it about those people.
It turns out I had classmates who were going through the same things that I was, and I didn’t know it until months later. I hope my #SameHere🤙story inspires others to be vulnerable and honest. Having people who love and support me, and who know the struggle that I go through has been just as instrumental to my healing process as any medication or practice.