Anatomy of a Panic Attack

It starts one of two ways:

In the mind…
Doubts, fears, responsibilities mounting against your perceived ability to control it all.

In the physical…
Something happens. That feeling in the pit of your stomach. It drops.

Your heart starts racing. You feel like you just ran a marathon, but you’re completely still. Paralyzed.
I can’t do this.

Your breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. You can’t catch your breath as you feel a tightness in your chest.
I’m going to have a heart attack. I’m going to die. I can’t do this.

You try to calm yourself down…try to escape to that happy place…try to picture yourself in better circumstances.
It’s not working. I need this to work now. I can’t do this.

Your skin becomes clammy as you continue to hyperventilate, not realizing that one symptom begets another.
Oh my goodness, I’m going to pass out. I can’t do this.

You start getting lightheaded.
Yep, definitely going to pass out.

You can’t sit still – you want to keep moving. And much to your distress, you’re in a place where constant movement would be out of the ordinary – sitting at a desk, sitting in class, in a enclosed place with a group of people.
They have no idea what’s going on. I’ve got to get it together. More importantly, I’ve got to get out of here. Before I embarrass myself.

You’re fighting against yourself.
Calm down. Slow down. Breathe. There are some things that are naturally out of your control. You’re not going to die.
I’m losing it. I can’t do this. I’m not worth anything. Why me? Why do I have to be the one dealing with this?

Eventually, one wins out…for now.

__________________________

This is not how everyone experiences a panic attack – these things are indicative of my worst panic attacks. I share this because I want those of you who deal with this to know that you’re not alone. Approximately six million Americans have panic disorder (Source) (which is different from experiencing panic attacks here and there.)

Finding out that there are others out there who know exactly what you’re going through helps out a lot. In the past couple of years, I’ve found out that some of my friends deal with some sort of anxiety on this life-altering level. There’s comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.

How have I kept my panic attacks at bay? By praying in the moment and focusing on breathing control. There are many different methods to combat and prevent panic attacks.

I’m here if anyone wants to share their experiences with panic attacks / panic disorder. Remember, you’re not alone. And you can overcome it.

- j

Someone Stop Me

Preface: I am ridiculous.

I’ve been on the line for a few months now. I’m still getting used to some things, but I know what to expect for the most part.

Now that I’m starting to get settled into my new career and lifestyle, where does my brain take me in moments of daydreaming?

Achievement. Great, Jade. You made it through training. You love your job. So…what’s next?

Seriously, self? I am so driven by achievement that I’m never going to stop. I’m never going to say, “Finally. I’ve reached it. The pinnacle of my being and doing.”

I’ve been entertaining the idea of going back to school for the umpteenth time. For what? No idea. Languages? Writing? Directing? Organizational Leadership? Just the idea of going back to school is attractive to me. #nerd4lyfe

I have an insane amount of goals, so here are a few that have been bouncing around in my brain (in no particular order):

1. Master German (In progress)
2. Master Italian
3. Master Spanish
4. Go back to school for something.
5. Finish at least one of the scripts that I have on my hard drive. (Working on it – set a hard deadline for myself.)
6. Get that script produced. (It could actually happen. I got connections, yo!)
7. Practice playing more guitar and piano.
8. Get stronger, physically speaking.

I know that I probably won’t be able to hit all of my goals, but I’m definitely going to try.

Here’s to being too ambitious for my own good,

- j

NaBloPoMo: Influencing People

This prompt comes from NaBloPoMo January 2014 and the question is:

Are you good at influencing other people?

Truth be told, I haven’t the slightest idea.

I’ve been in a number of leadership roles throughout my life thus far, and I’d like to think that as a leader, I influenced people to do the right things.

I try to live a life that reflects Jesus Christ – I am by no means perfect, but I serve a perfect God who is constantly leading me, challenging me, and shaping me into the woman He created me to be.

*shrug*

I feel like if I went on with this subject, it would sound super preachy and self-absorbed – “Yeah, I influence people all the time, man. I got an army of followers…blah blah blah…look at how awesome I am.”

So I’ll just end it here. I hope that I have influenced people in a positive manner.

- j

…and she continues to write

Writing is one of my biggest passions. Whether it’s a snappy Facebook status, a well thought-out blog entry, or a personal entry in one of my many journals, I love writing. But I haven’t been doing nearly enough of it lately. And they say that if you want to get better at something, you need to do it more often. I have no idea who “they” are, but they’re right.

Many times on the jumpseat, inspiration and creative energy hit me like a ton of bricks and I scramble to write down all that I can before it escapes me. Actually, I believe I’ve got a solid idea for a blog post buried somewhere in my handbag. I’ll have to find that.

I probably have about half a dozen scripts, monologues, and scenes that are unfinished on my computer. Stories waiting to be told. A few days ago, I got a pretty sweet idea for a play and for once, I don’t want this to be just another unfinished script on my computer.

When I get an idea for a script, I immediately picture the staging of it. I imagine it being performed with all the right props, costumes, lights, actors, the whole shebang. Now, to actually get it there is another story. My mind goes at a million miles a minute with how to actually do this. And who knows – maybe this will be just another script on my computer. Or maybe it will be a fun table read with friends. Or maybe I could crowdfund it and actually produce it. All while flying 100 hours a month. People have done crazier things in the name of passion, right?

What enhances my writing is observing human behaviour and interaction. What drives us to do what we do, say what we say, say but don’t do, do but don’t say, react…it’s all so fascinating to me.

In my attempt to get this script out of my heart and brain, I toss around ideas of how to approach it. Having taken a few creative writing classes while at university, I default to what I was taught – completing writing exercises.

I think of some of my favourite playwrights and authors – Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway…what were their processes? Did they sit around doing writing exercises? Or did they just write and rewrite and rewrite and edit and proofread until it was perfect? In the end, all of these famous authors and playwrights wrote. They wrote. They continued to write.

I can’t get better if I don’t write. So I hope to will be writing more often – this new script idea, in this blog, in my journals, and probably scribbling some more crazy ideas on my rotations while I’m on the jumpseat.

:)

- j

Personality Detective

I swear by personality tests. I love taking them and referring to them. Does that make me weird? Probably. My go-to is the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator – my type is ENFP. After reading Listful Thinking’s post about the StrengthsFinder test, I remembered my top five strengths. As a freshman in college, I had to take this test as part of the required orientation “class.” At 17 years old, I was just coming out of my awkward shell. I’d moved away from home and discovered this thing called a social life. Some of these strengths didn’t make sense to me at first, but I see them employed in my interactions with others. So here we go:

My Top Five Strengths

1. Woo. Not an exclamation (though I do exclaim this on a semi-regular basis.) Woo stands for Winning Others Over. People with this strength enjoy meeting new people and learning about them. Strangers aren’t scary, but intriguing. We love conversations and parties – we thrive in those environments. We like to get new people to like us.

I feel awkward around new people all the time. Probably because I want them to like me (AHA! Lightbulb moment.) Sometimes, I find myself searching for things to add to a conversation with a new person. But these awkward moments don’t last for long, at least on my end. I am highly intrigued by some new people. I want to figure them out, hence my love of personality tests. It makes my “personality detective” work much easier.

2. Adaptability. People with this strength are incredibly flexible, welcome change, and live in the moment.

“Blessed are the flexible, for they are never bent out of shape.” I learned this adage when I went on my first missions trip. Something will change or go wrong – just deal with it and move on. This doesn’t mean that I’ve never gotten upset about a change – I tend to let it roll off my back after a bit. This strength is very helpful in my career as a flight attendant. “What? We have a mechanical? We’re going to be stuck here for six hours?!…..ok. Time to take a nap!” Every time I hear the words “mechanical” and/or “delay,” I just smile and go with it. This was tested during the polar vortex that severely delayed and canceled flights across the country. The one thing that is consistent in the airline industry is change. And I’m totes cool with that.

3. Communication. People with this strength love words. We love to explain, tell stories, speak in public, explain, act, etc.

I write a blog. I keep a journal. I majored in theatre. And I deliver PAs on my flights (and I’ve been complimented on my voice. Thanks, nice passengers!) I think it’s safe to say that I like saying things and writing things.

4. Achiever. Achievers are driven. We like having a goal to attain. Once we attain that goal, we are already on the next goal. Accomplishments are our fuel.

This couldn’t be more true about me. I want to be the best. In training, I ran myself into the ground studying for the tests. All that studying paid off, but I would beat myself up over missed questions. Seriously. I cried when I got a 94 on a test. I must’ve missed maybe five questions out of all the tests that I took, but I mentally kicked myself for each of those questions. I am driven by accomplishments. If I see that someone else has accomplished something that I haven’t, that becomes my new goal. That thought process can be healthy….or unhealthy. I try to keep myself in check.

5. Belief. Belief indicates a strong set of core values. We have a strong foundation and set of priorities in life. We use these values to navigate the curves that are thrown at us.

I am a sinner saved by grace. I believe in God. I believe in my Saviour, Jesus Christ. I pray that He is reflected through my actions and interactions with others.

So, there I am according to StrengthsFinder!

- j

Staying Healthy in the Air

This has been one of the biggest challenges since becoming a flight attendant. It’s difficult to stay healthy, especially in this first year. I’ve already been sick – it was a cold, not a big deal. I don’t get to go to the gym as often as I’d like. Usually, when I get in from a trip, I’m exhausted. I use my days off to rest and recover. I’m always wary of using hotel gyms on layovers – they’re usually on a lower floor and far from anything else. So, not safe for a young woman to go by herself.

Also, the food. Good grief, there is a plethora of unhealthy (and expensive) options at the airport. When I go on a trip, I always bring apples and almonds for quick snacks. I have organic soups that I have for dinner and oatmeal for the mornings. However, if the hotel rooms don’t have microwaves (or charge ridiculous amount for them), then I’m out of luck. I find it difficult to pack perishable foods because my ice packs melt after a few hours. And if the room doesn’t have a fridge, then I’m back to square one.

All of you flight attendants, pilots, and frequent travellers, any tips on workouts, eating healthy, and the like are greatly appreciated by this newbie! Thanks ;)

- j

2014: Soar

Here I am, fresh off of a mechanical delay from the Bahamas. I can’t really complain, though – being stuck in the Bahamas for an extra six hours isn’t all that bad. ;)

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while, but I’ve been working like crazy through the holidays.

2013 was a year of growth, faith, and learning. Approaching 2013, I was battling a lot of inner wounds. In 2013, I took the steps necessary to heal and grow. I went to counseling for a few months and I am so thankful that I did. My counselor really helped me to see how my wounds were causing me to react in certain ways. I am happy to say that through prayer and counseling, those wounds…those memories…that inner pain no longer has a hold on me. Thank God. He carried me through that transformation.

I lost two jobs in 2013. There were times when I just broke down in tears because I didn’t know what to do. I tried to find solutions everywhere – going back to school, pursuing tour director certification. My husband and I made it financially through that time, thankfully. I don’t even really know how we made ends meet, but we did. Then, out of nowhere, the opportunity to become a flight attendant showed up. Honestly, I almost didn’t take the job. I had my heart set on tour director certification. And now I’m so glad that I took the job – I couldn’t be happier! I get to travel most of the month, and I’ve met some great people – crew and passengers alike. Last night, I was on the beach with my crew….I looked up at the stars and thought to myself, “I’m getting paid to do this!” I am incredibly blessed. I thank God and my friends and family that have supported me through every step of the process.

I learned a lot about myself in 2013. I learned that I have a lot more inner strength than I realise. I’ve been through the ringer this past year, but I’ve come out much stronger and wiser. God really stretched my faith in 2013. I learned that I should trust my instinct about people. I learned that I just cannot deal with BS, two-faced people, and gossip. I made it a point to not gossip – I know that I wasn’t completely faithful to that point, but I was much more aware of the amount of gossip that goes on. I’ve confronted people on their gossip about others, and the mixed reactions were interesting. People don’t like to own up to their mistakes.

Learning these things about people has made me wary of who I become friends with. In the past couple of years, my trust in people has fallen – maybe that’s typical as you get older. I am a person who can make friends easily, but I’m much more cautious of who sticks around and why. I have an incredible group of core friends who come from different places – friendships that have endured since high school, friends from work, friends who might as well be family. And we’ve all seen each other through thick and thin. I am thankful for each and every one of them – each one has taught me something different and enriched my life. Words can’t express how grateful I am for all of them.

In 2013, I reconnected with my dad and his side of the family. And now I get to see them about once a month when I fly to London. #lifewin

If I had to choose one word to describe what I want 2014 to be, it would be soar. Partially because I spend a lot of my time in the air, but also because I want to soar above the person that 2013 made me. I want to continue to grow and improve. I pray that 2014 holds prosperity, not just financially, but spiritually and mentally. I pray that my husband and I will be able to buy our first house in 2014. I can’t wait to see where I get to visit this year.

Here’s to soaring in 2014,

- j