Category Archives: panic attack

ANOTHER ROUND OF EXPOSURE THERAPY

bodamain

Hey everyone out there with anxiety and panic! Have you ever said to yourself,

“Gee wiz fellas, you know what I think would just be too great for my mental health? Extremely small, confined spaces, that are dark, smelly, and require lots of physical exertion?”

Well then, I have I got the place for you! 

Do you know those Escape Rooms that are so popular?  Well did you know that there is a chain called Boda Borg?  It’s like a Chucky Cheese playpen for adults. You go in and it’s literally 20 escape rooms. Very elaborate, long, multiple-roomed escape rooms. Some are more mental, some are more physical. Some require both.

I’ve made a good group of friends here at Harvard through a gaming club. And it’s been discussed that we should do a Boda Borg day sometime. And well, yesterday ended up being the day.

 

***A brief history for anyone reading this post who hasn’t read my blog in the past***

I’ve struggled with depression since I was a kid (bullying and being gay in conservative America…blah blah blah, you get it.)  And then after years of not taking care of myself and never addressing the depression,  I started breaking out into anxiety attacks at 20. By 23, I was full-blown agoraphobic. That’s when I started writing this blog. And from there I started the very long, bumpy road of recovery from completely insane, to regaining my humanity in an attempt to live my life rather than hide from it…

 

So anyways, when I arrived at Boda Borg yesterday, I was like… Oh holy fuck. 

boda3

 

Have you ever watched those claustrophobic movies like The Descent? Or how about weird torture movies like SAW? And have you been like, thank god I don’t have to go through that?  Then great news! In Boda Borg you can do both! 

descent

 

 

Our first “Mission” was called PLATOON. And we walked into this room and had to find the supplies that we were told to get.  Once we found them, A tiny little door that you had to crawl into was unlocked. And when I say tiny little door, I’m not kidding.  Here’s an example of what the door-openings look like:

boda7

 

It was practically pitch-black inside, with only a few little orange lights to add just enough light to allow to see where the walls were.

Inside this dark box, you realized you have to crawl and snake your way between platforms UPWARDS in almost complete blackness. You climb your way all the way from crawling-height on the first floor, up to the second floor!  (I graciously made a visual representation for everyone below)

 

ENTER

 

Oh and I forgot to mention!!!  So, every time you progress to a new room in Boda Borg, the door closes behind you AND LOCKS! So, we get into this cramped area and the door locks behind us, and it’s tight, and dark, so sort of disorienting. I try pushing the little door open to get some light in, but it’s locked… Now, I don’t believe in God. But in that moment, I silently said to God, or the Universe, or whatever, “Look, if you allow me to have a panic attack in front of my newfound friends, I swear, I will fucking kill you.”

We started snaking our way up the platforms, on our knees, bending our bodies, lifting ourselves up little by little. I could feel panic at my side. I could feel it just wanting to break loose and cause havoc. But, I stayed calm.  Deep breath in, deep breath out, and lift!  Up to the next platform I went. Then I crawled over to the next opening. Deep breath in, deep breath out, and lift! When we finally made it to the top and I could see the light of the room (which, the rooms themselves can be claustrophobic to some, but after snaking your way through thatthe rooms are a refreshing wide-open expanse.

boda2

 

But soon you figure out that Boda Borg is filled with nothing but these panic-inducing tactics.  Almost everything requires crawling through tight passageways, or climbing up tight passageways, or climbing across tight passageways (as I found in one tube that had monkey-bars running through it. The tube itself is lined with sensors, so if your body touches it at any point, you fail and have to restart the entire mission.)

 

boda4

 

As the day went on, it began to get fun. It’s like a panic attack actually.  When you start getting panic attacks, you’re like,

OH MY GOD I’M DYING!!!!!!!

But after a hundred panic attacks, you’re like…

OMG WHATEVER, THESE HAVEN’T KILLED ME YET. I’M SO OVER IT.

It’s just like that.  Another room, another insanely claustrophobic space that you’ve been locked into.  But they haven’t killed you so far, right?

I started loosening up. I started really enjoying myself. I started to have a lot of fun!  We ended up being there 8 hours! You can buy a 35 dollar day pass that allows you unlimited access the entire day.  And we we’re determined to beat all 20 missions.

boda1

Here’s a great example btw:  When I say these spaces are tight, I’m not kidding.  They’e like the scenes in Alien where they’re climbing through the ventilation ducts

alien

 

But here’s one thing I will say: Having friends there helped so much. Knowing that you were there with friends as a team, was amazing. Because you weren’t alone. You weren’t abandoned. And isn’t that really the root cause of most of our anxiety and panic anyways?  It’s always the fear that we’re going to be helpless somehow?

But with friends there, it’s fun. You have support. You have laughter. You have fun!

And that’s so true with mental health in general.  Humans are social creatures. We need meaningful interaction with others, otherwise, we lose our fuckin’ brains. I know a lost of us like to think that we’re the lone wolf or whatever, but take it from someone who literally had to be a lone wolf for some much of my life…

It isn’t fun and it isn’t glorious. It’s fucking miserable. 

I fully believe that support is the number 1 key to helping us stay sane and happy.  And I’m glad that I’ve made some friends here, and I’m glad that I’m in a place where I can challenge my depression, anxiety, and panic.

What do you guys think helps you the most when confronting your fears?

 

~ The Dark Horse

(And no, this isn’t proofread. It’s summer vacation, and I aint proofreading shit)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EXPOSURE THERAPY: Or, I’m Bringing A Drag Queen To Campus

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Alright everyone, so, if you’ve read my blog for a while you will know that I used to have a little problem.  This super tiny, basically nonexistent problem was that I had agoraphobia. In fact, for a while I couldn’t even walk out the front door of my apartment without having a panic attack. And then for years after that, I struggled to be in open places.  Luckily for me, I had an amazing therapist who gave me what’s called Exposure Therapy.

For those who don’t know what it is, it’s basically exactly how it sounds. You get over your anxiety by being thrown into the situations that give you anxiety.  It’s hell, I’ll be honest. But damn, that shit works!

For me, I had gotten into therapy way too late. I didn’t start until I had formed a complete fear of the outside world. Anywhere that wasn’t my house was a source of anxiety. Also, I’m gay and have always acted really weird around straight guys (because they were always mean to me) and I was especially weird around hot jock straight guys (because…you know, alpha male types are straight up cunts). Anyways, so my therapist, being the clever bitch she is, figured the perfect solution…. I was going to do my exposure therapy at the football stadium on campus…

foot

And not only would I be doing it there, but I would be doing it DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE FOOTBALL TEAM AS THEY HAD THEIR PRACTICE.

blues

Yes, that’s right. She had me run up and down the bleachers, and then run onto the football field as they practiced and spin in circles to make myself dizzy… all right in front of the football team.  The goal was to make me feel like I was going to pass out, and then show me that I didn’t pass out.

Look people, it wasn’t easy.  In fact, as I ran the bleachers I was screaming profane things at my therapist.

“You’re a fucking cunt! You’re a fucking cunt! You’re a fucking cunt!” I screamed over and over.

She simply responded with, “You know, it’s weird, I didn’t know that people who were about to pass out had the energy to scream like that.”

I ended up really loving this girl. She was amazing and was exactly what I needed in a therapist, I just didn’t know it.

 

ANYWAYS, so what does all this have to do with Drag Queens right???? 

Well, one of my internships on campus is making episodes for a podcast. Back in January, the guy who runs the podcast was like, “Hey, can you make an event happen? An event would be great publicity.”  Now, I didn’t know much about drag, but I thought it would so bright and colorful to have an event with a drag queen.  And how much fun right? I’m all about having people learn in a fun setting. Trying to learn when you’re bored as fuck is impossible.

So, I’ve been spending the past few months making arrangements and learning everything there is to know about drag. It’s been a whirlwind, and now, it’s almost here. I am actually going to be hosting the event!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?  I’m going to be the one on-stage hosting the event and asking the questions. And here’s the thing….

This is going to be my first time on stage since developing anxiety.

sever

 

That’s right. I’m going to be in front of an auditorium that seats 200 people, with all eyes on me.  This is Exposure Therapy 2.0 bitches, and I’m determined to make this fun. I’m determined to not get anxious or have a panic attack in front of a crowd. I want to make people laugh. I want them to have fun, and to enjoy themselves.

And on top of that, I’m going to keep learning. This is the next step of my journey. I’ve done a great job of getting back into society, but this is my chance to crawl out from the shadows. I’ve always been a natural entertainer. A natural people-person. The anxiety and depression just kind of masked that for like… over a decade. But it’s never too late.

Do you understand that?

It’s never ever too late.

We can always grow and always be better. Depression and anxiety does not control us. We control them.

And furthermore, this goes beyond depression and anxiety. This is true for all of us, from people with PTSD, to someone who is having a midlife crisis, or anyone who just feels like they aren’t living to their true potential.   You aren’t dead are you?  No, I didn’t think so. And since you’re alive, it means you’re able to change.

To grow.

To be better.

To be happy.

blair

If this boy from Indiana can have the balls to put on a dress, then trust me, we can have the balls to change our lives.

 

Let’s Do This!

~ The Dark Horse

KANT’S RULES OF HAPPINESS

KANT'S RULES FORHAPPINESS

 

So, I came across this quote the other day,  and I’ll admit, it’s sad that I just found this because I was literally in a philosophy class last semester and we talked about Kant!  Not to mention the fact that I’ve been blogging about depression and my lonely life for 4 fucking years now.

Anyhoo, so Kant has famously said:

Rules for happiness_ something to do, someone to love, something to hope for.

Have you all heard this before?  Because seriously, this is like life changing for me… and yet I’m worried that this quote may be common knowledge for pretty much everyone but me.

 

Anyways, let’s dive into this shit.

 

1.) SOMETHING TO DO

 

For a very, very long time, I lacked this. I mean, even to this very day I’m still pretty weak in this department (But I’m making progress). But I completely agree that this is so true.  When you’re doing things that you hate and that bore you, how the fuck are you supposed to be happy? 

For example, I’ve spent so many fucking years working in restaurants and in retail. I was bored.  In fact, I was bored to death.  I was so bored that I was horribly depressed, and would break out into panic attacks just thinking about how meaningless my life was.

What made it even worse is that I would try to reach out to people.  I’d try to be like, “I’m so unhappy, I know I can do more with my life…I’m meant for more than this.”

and that was always met with:

“In this economy you should just be thankful you have a job…”

or

“Oh well you know, everyone gets bored with everything they do eventually…”

or

“What other kind of job do you think you could even get???”

 

It’s sad that people don’t try and life you up, they just try and keep you down at their level.  The lesson here is that if you’re doing something and you feel like your stuck and bored and miserable, then switch it up!  Get out of that place!  (Granted this is something that can take time…but don’t let that deter you from doing it!)

 

 

2.) SOMEONE TO LOVE

 

I think it’s pretty obvious that this doesn’t just mean love in a romantic sense.  I think this is more about having people in your life.  Friends, family, and romance.

I’ve talked about this with a lot of people.  I never had anyone there for me growing up, and it totally killed me inside.  Living in social isolation is absolute hell.  And what’s even worse is when bad things happen to you.  In general, most people get through the bad times by being surrounded by those who care about them.  They use the shoulders around them to cry on.

And when you don’t have any shoulders around…when it’s just you vs. the universe, the world is a horribly crushing place.

Having people in your life…people who actually care… is life changing.

In fact, something pretty amazing happened the other night.  I’ve started to make some friends here at Harvard.  We met through a board game club on campus.  And last month it was brought up that when Star Wars came out, we should all go see it.

SW

And sure enough, on Thursday, opening night for The Last Jedi, we all went and saw it.  I was standing in the T, with seven of my friends around me… I looked around and I thought to myself… “Wow, this is the first time in my entire life that I’ve ever gone somewhere with a group of people!” 

I don’t want to sound stupid, but it was a completely profound experience. I, at 27 years old, had finally done something that I’ve always wanted to do ever since I was a kid.  I was hanging out with a group of friends.

We did all the things that people with social lives do.  We were all texting each other about where to meet and stuff, we all sat in a group at the movies, and we even had an issue where the car broke down, so we had to flag someone down to jump the car at 1am… look at that, a night complete with wacky surprises!  This may seem like normal stuff you guys, but for me, this was a totally new experience. It’s crazy how something that seems so meaningless to most people can be so moving to others.

I actually really like how Star Wars has a way of bringing people together.  It’s almost like it’s mankind’s favorite story.  It teaches us to be better people and to never give up.

 

3.) SOMETHING TO HOPE FOR

So, I see this as also meaning something to look forward.  Something that makes you want to keep living.  Something that makes you believe fun and happiness is on the horizon.  That something will better your life. 

And… hmmmm… this is becoming a Star Wars post now.  Because you know, Star Wars is all about HOPE. The entire plot-line of Star Wars is the hope that good will overcome darkness.  That is the rebellion.

And I don’t know if any of you have read some of my earlier posts throughout the years, but there have been times when I literally have had no hope.  There have been times where I was just wishing that I’d die through the night so I wouldn’t have to go on living another day.

But now…things are different.  Since starting at Harvard, it’s like my life has turned around.  I have internships now… I have a sense that I will actually make something of myself… I think I could become a good writer at some point… and I even have friends now (wtf right?  How did all this happen?)

Well…I needed hope.  I needed hope that my life could become better.  I needed hope that things weren’t over yet.  I needed to believe that I could do it.

And now, that small sliver of hope, that small flame in the eternal darkness… It’s lead to more hope.  And now, hopefully this post is bringing about more hope.  Because like Kant says, we all need hope.

 

 

So, what does this mean?  …. good question.  This post was not put together well at all.  My writing professors would be annoyed, but you know what fuck them.  This isn’t being written for a class, this is being written for catharsis.

But here’s what I can say for you.  If you have people who are bringing you down, well then, you gosta’ slap a bitch.

slap

 

Cuz you got this.  You can do it.  Yes, this world can be unfair, and sure, some of may be missing some or all of Kant’s 3 sources to happiness, but this is the only life we have.  And so we gotta rock shit out.

Go for it.

Never give up.

And may the force be with you.

lightspeed

 

 

Light speed bitches!

~ The Dark Horse

 

 

The Best Mental Health Resource You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

beyond

 

So, one of the best resources for depression and anxiety I’ve ever experienced is an Australian website called Beyondblue.  Now, since most of you reading this have never lived in Australia, you probably have never heard of Beyondblue, hence the post!

It’s a great site that is friendly and fun (which really there isn’t enough of when talking about mental health).

The best part is that it covers EVERYTHING there is to cover.  If you scroll down on their homepage, you’ll find this:

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 6.34.55 PM

 

Who cares if this website wasn’t designed for our country, it’s great!  Plus it’s fun and funny.  I mean, just look at this video:

 

Now, this is not a paid advertisement I’m writing here  (although, fuck that would be amazing if I actually made money from this little blog)   But why I’m writing about this is actually because it is so important. 

Everything: Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, and Panic.  They’re all so scary to go through alone.  They’re extremely distressing.  That’s why it’s such a relief to go onto a website that is bright colorful, friendly, and funny.

We need that stuff!

We need more people telling us how to prepare ourselves for the bad times, how to live through the bad times, and how to thrive after them.   I hate always having people look at depression and stuff as like, “Well, my life is over…too bad.”

But that isn’t the case.   I remember when the show Lady Dynamite came out on Netflix there was a review for it that said, this isn’t a show about living with mental illness, it’s a show about thriving with mental illness. 

And I love that.  Let’s all learn to thrive.  It’s hard, sure.  But damn, it’s gotta be worth it!

Check out Beyonblue below!

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/anxiety

Save Yourself With Your Passion

dive

So, writing is bringing new hope and adventure my life.  For those of you who don’t know or haven’t been reading my blog (which…who is?  I don’t think I have any hardcore followers)  Anyways, as a recap, I’m currently studying Creative Writing and Literature.

And I love it.   I love making stories.  I love taking the horrible crap of my life and turning it into stories.  I love making people smile.  I love making people laugh.  I love inspiring people.

 I just fucking love it. 

 

And you know what?  I’m 27 now and I keep asking myself, WHY DIDN’T I DO THIS SOONER?  Why am I just now taking control of my life?  Why am I just now starting to feel alive?

The answer is sad, but obvious.  I never thought I was worth it. I have been put down so much in my life, and told that I’ll amount to nothing, that I ended up fucking believed it.   AND YOU KNOW WHATS EVEN WORSE???  It was this weird internalized belief.  Like I didn’t think I was worthless because people told me I was, I just deeply and truly had a sense that I was worthless.   That feeling burrowed deep within me, planting roots in the depths of everything I was (and am).

For those of you who read my last 2 posts about sex addiction, then let me say, I think that internalized feeling of worthlessness is also what led me to using sex as a form of relief.   I didn’t think I was better than a random man off Grindr.  I didn’t; think I was worth anymore that a one night stand, BECAUSE LOOK AT ME?  WHO WOULD WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THIS? is what I would tell myself.

 

But fuck.  Something deep within me is changing.  Harvard is changing me.   When the editor of the Harvard Review says she likes your style and wants to help you, the stone walls you’ve built up around yourself begin to crumble.  Finally, you have a voice to contradict the people of your past.

tower

 

And this blog is what started it all.  I started writing this in 2013 in Melbourne, Australia. I was suffering from panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and agoraphobia.  I needed to write to save myself.  And I still do it to this day.   My passion is giving me reason to live.  And I can’t believe it took me so long to see that this passion is real.  It isn’t my “head in the clouds” or “me not growing up”.  It’s a passion I have and a passion I need.  Writing is part of me, and I love it.

 

So for any of you out there struggling, do you have passions?  And if not, do you have anything you love doing but don’t know if it’s a passion?  Do you have anything you really wanted to do but are too scared to try?   Because I can tell you that working towards something real has helped me a lot.

Having sex constantly didn’t make me happy.

Listening to the world and getting a 9-5 job I hate because, and I quote, “I should just be thankful I’m not homeless” never made me happy.

Hating myself and my life everyday never made me happy.

But working towards a passion did.  

Alright, let’s end this with a good gif?  Cuz who this fuck doesn’t like a good gif right?

vader1

vader

 

Remember:  If Vader can have fun as Disneyland, than it’s never too late for us to change out ways either!

 

~ The Dark Horse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance Of Having Role Models With Mental Illness

carrie

 

So, I just finished reading Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher, and it was actually a really great book!  One thing that i really loved was open and honest she was about her life.   She spoke so openly about her friend dying beside her in bed, and about how she used drugs to numb her intense emotions.   Granted, I don’t agree with a lot of what happened in her life (I don’t do drugs or drink, so the idea of my mom coming to me at age 13 and telling me to smoke up with her was incredibly strange), but that isn’t the point.

 

The point is that this woman is not only an amazing storyteller, but also shows one of the truest signs of overcoming your problems:  

The ability to talk openly and laugh about them! 

carrie1

 

 

This then got me thinking about how great it was to hear someone be able to be so free, and so open.  And also, how great it felt to just know someone is out there talking about their mental illness and making waves in our culture!

And so then I set out to find other celebrities who have been open about mental illness (whether it be PTSD, panic, anxiety, depression), and some of the things I found were a bit shocking!

 

And the answer is, shockingly few.   I found a few articles on HuffPost and Buzzed and stuff, where a celebrity says they get “anxiety” (cough cough) about something every once in a while or some other kind of bullshit like that,  but none of it seemed to be what I live through.  For me, depression and anxiety are these massive weights that pull me down everyday.  They are always there and always trying to ruin me.  That is why Wishful Drinking was such a great read.   It wasn’t Amanda Seyfried talking for one paragraph about how she sometimes get upset thinking about her son possibly dying or something.  It was real, life-destroying mental problems, and I loved reading it!

 

So there needs to be more talk about this stuff I think.   Mental problems of all kinds: Depression, PTSD, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, Panic, all of it!   We need role models out there telling their stories.  Telling us it’s going to be ok.  Letting us know there is a life outside our issues.    I hope to be one of those voices someday.  I know it will be a rough and long road, but there is a severe lack of this kind of talk in our society, I hope to change that!

  • So what do you guys think?  Where do you stand with how society views mental illness and do you think we need more role models?  Or do you know of any great stories about mental illness to read?   Feel free to tell me everything in the comments!

 

~ The Dark Horse

 

(This was like 10% proofread!  ya baby ya!)