Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Enough is Enough

I'm over it. No more listening politely when people try to twist history to fit their narrative. No more justifying my perspective without also requiring them to justify theirs. No more putting up with this "fake facts" bullshit. I'm done.

A conversation I had earlier today on Facebook:

Them: what is one right that stops the government from changing any right we have

Me: I don't know what you're talking about. Literally the entire structure of our government is designed to prevent that from happening in the first place

Them: "there is something that actually allows them to do it. but they can't because of a right we have."

Me: I cannot fathom what you think allows them to fundamentally change the structure of our government

Them: its with in the bill of rights i use to know it by heart.

Me: [does a recap of all ten amendments in the Bill of Rights] So where in that list does it allow the government to change our government system in order to explicitly deny the citizenry of their rights?

Them: i will look for it.

Me: That's literally the list of all of the amendments in the Bill of Rights

Them: its not in the constitution

Me: You told me that it's in the Bill of Rights. Where is it if it isn't there?

Them: like i said i will have to look for it.

Me: Pretty sure laws cannot supersede the BoR

Them: it was something that got past some where.

Me: Well, let me know when you find it

Them: i will [insert long pause here] but the one thing that the government fears when they do try to do it is the 2nd amendment. but if you restrict things to the point where you can only own a pistol there really isn't anything that stops them. except for whats already out there.

Me: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Them: it's an increasing possibility.

Me: I didn't realize that you drank so much of the kool-aid

Them: historically its happen. where people have rights similar to here along with the structure similar to the constitution. slowly those rights were being taken away or highly regulated. or completely stripped.

Me: Yeah, funny story: none of the gun owners stood up against it before. So why would it be any different now? Because I can tell you right now that when my family was forced into internment camps, there were no guys with guns there to protect them from the Big Bad Gub'ment

Them: it was conveyed as a threat to national security.

Me: Uh-huh. And NUMEROUS authorities said otherwise. There was NO EVIDENCE that there was any actual threat from the Japanese American community.

Them: "also sold as protection" the Germans where intern as well.

Me: Honey, don't try to pull that on me. Yes, Germans were put into camps, but they weren't systematically removed FROM THE ENTIRE WEST COAST

Them: because there wasn't a lot of them that were on the west coast.

Me: Germans?

Them: yep

Me: Honey, Germans are EVERYWHERE

Them: during that period of time. everyone we fought against during the war was in a camp at some point.

Me: So what you're saying is that because a few Germans were scooped up, some of whom WERE attempting espionage, the forcible relocation of over 100,000 persons of a specific ethnicity (none of whom were EVER tied to subversive activity) is justified?

Them: some people weren't even Germans or Italians it was racial profiling at it's finest. but people tried to stand up for not interning the races because a lot of them were born here. but they were thrown in there with them. alot of mixed race families and Philippians were thrown into camps as well.

Me: Also, over 80% of the Japanese Americans put into those internment camps were natural born US citizens and had never even been to Japan. I would like you to provide me with ANY evidence that there was protest outside of the Asian American community when persons of Japanese ancestry were interned.

Them: people still stood up for them. maybe not with guns but a voice. they probably didn't even make the paper.

Me: Prove it. If people gave even HALF a shit about their Japanese American neighbors being forced into government-sponsored internment camps in the middle of nowhere, USA, there would be some record of it.

So prove it.

I dare you.


At this point there was a solid 6-7 minutes with no response. I was still pretty heated about this, so I added:

How about this: you find that bit of legal documentation that you think allows the government to arbitrarily take away the rights of US citizens. Then you find proof that people were in any way vocal in protesting the Internment. After that, you can explain to me why you think that the historical precedent of guns NOT preventing the government from forcibly removing over a HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE from their homes proves that guns will save us from government overreach.

No rush. I can wait for you to find all the necessary information. Oh, and if you could please cite your sources, that would be great.

(This is the point where I really should have inserted a smiley emoji.)


They later provided me with a link to an article about the Governor of Colorado and how he “stood up” for the Japanese. I’ll give you some of the highlights below:

"Colorado’s governor was the only major political figure to oppose the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor"

ONLY MAJOR POLITICAL FIGURE
There's literally ONE out of THOUSANDS
But thank GOD for Colorado's governor. Since, you know, Colorado has always played such an important role in national politics.

“He doesn’t stop what they call at the time concentration camps,” Hanson said. “He doesn’t take some moral stand where he says this is wrong and we will not allow this to happen. He says, ‘As a good American, if this is what the war effort requires, Colorado will do its duty.'”

Them: still looking for more examples but there were more people that opposed this. Also, orders are orders

Me: Uh-huh. That defense didn't exactly hold water at Nuremberg.

Them: battle or evac of the people?

Me: [provides link to US Holocaust Museum page on the Nuremberg Trials]

Them: random fact the jewish populations didn’t have rifles but they actually use to have them.

Me: Random fact: you have yet to find sources to back up any of your three major points. Have you found the legal document that allows the US government to arbitrarily revoke the rights of US citizens en masse?

Needless to say, I have yet to receive a response. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I am so. Very. Done. Stop cherry-picking “facts” and stop trying to change the topic when you realize that you are wrong. Just be wrong and acknowledge it. If you can’t do that, don’t talk to me. Seriously.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Doomed to Repeat it...

I can't believe I'm writing about this again. It's like people never learn.

Dear white people,

If you want to know why people of color are so angry about a lack of representation, let me ask you to consider a hypothetical : 

Your great-great-many-times-great grandparents came to the United States from Ireland. They were poor and struggled valiantly to find work and provide for their large family. When her husband died in a factory accident, your grandmother was forced to move herself and her six kids into a single bedroom apartment where she could barely make ends meet (and sometimes didn't). She ended up taking any work that came her way because she was told repeatedly that "Irish need not apply" for any of the jobs that she was otherwise qualified for. She worked hard to provide a good life for her kids, two of whom died as a result of malnutrition and disease, one of whom died as a result of gang violence in her Irish immigrant neighborhood where the police refused to patrol at night. 

Eventually, she finally found a job at a grocery store that was willing to hire an Irish immigrant. She made a little money and was able to take care of her children who all went on to have families of their own. Everyone lived happily ever after. 

Now picture casting Jackie Chan as your hypothetical great-great-many-times-great grandfather (complete with terrible Irish accent) and Halle Berry as your grandmother. Each of your grandparents offspring are played by young children from Ethiopia and the Congo except for the youngest one that dies very early on from a fever and only has three lines. That kid is white (maybe even of Irish descent, but probably not).

That mental shock that you had? That bit of "that would be so stupid" reaction in your head? Welcome to what people of color get to do every time a movie comes out where their stories are appropriated by white people. Think about that next time you go to the movie theatres. Maybe then you'll appreciate why none of us POC's are there with you. 

No love, 
Me

Friday, February 10, 2017

On being "Colorblind"

I hate it when people tell me that they wish that other people would be "colorblind". First of all, it's almost always a white person mentioning it. Secondly, it's almost always coming from someone that has not faced discrimination before due to their ethnic heritage or color of their skin.

I'm not going to claim that a white person can't understand what it's like to experience discrimination. I'm absolutely certain that they can. After all, a poor white person certainly doesn't have the same mobility and access as a wealthy white person in our society. However, what this concept of "colorblindness" fails to do is acknowledge the full range of experiences that formed someone into who they are today. 

For many people of color, whether they like it or not, their ethnic heritage is often central to their lived experience. It's constantly mentioned or pointed out to them. They are always aware of it. It's no different than someone that is used to always being told that they should be interested in sports because they are male or that girls should like pink. As a woman, I realize that it's "weird" to many people that I love sports. If I were a male, however, it would simply be expected. These assumptions are everywhere in society and we need to learn to acknowledge that they exist or we will never be able to move forward.

I have a friend who has often said that they can never forget to use their indicator light when driving because the police might pull them over (they have beautiful dark brown skin inherited from their Hispanic/Latino parents). We always laugh when he says that because there's enough sad truth in the statement that it's believable. There would never be a question of wrongdoing if he were white and didn't use a turn signal. After all, white skin is more likely to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Brown skin isn't.

I have never heard a white friend say, "I gotta make sure to use my blinker or else I might get pulled over." The only friends I have that say that are people of color.

So what? Why does this matter? People make silly jokes like this all the time, right? The more important question to ask is why do my friends that happen to be POC make these jokes to begin with and my white friends don't?

The truth is that society treats people of color differently. This is something that pretty much every POC is very well aware of from a very young age. I was made aware of it when people would make fun of me for my "slanty eyes". There's no more reason to make fun of someone for that than to make fun of someone for having blond hair, but people do it anyway. 

Growing up, people assumed a lot of things about me. I was told that I didn't need any extra help in math class because I'm Asian (by the way, I needed a lot of help because I really suck at math). It was assumed that I would be able to get into any college I wanted to because I'm a minority, not because of my own abilities, intelligence, or merit. The idea was always that something would be made "easier" for me somehow because I'm a minority. However, whenever I excelled at something that didn't fit the box that they had put me into, they would suddenly focus on a different aspect of my heritage or identity. If I did well in athletics, I'd hear people say, "Oh, you're good at sports because your dad is white" (I kid you not, this was literally said to me). When I did well on an exam, I was told that I was "so Asian." I did well at a track meet once (and I really do mean once, as in a single time. I was awful at pretty much every track event I tried) and was told that it was easier for me to do well because the equipment for girls was lighter than for the boys. Nothing I did was because of the hard work I put into doing a good job, it was all attributed to my genetic makeup.

So now we look at the adult I've become. If someone treats me as if I've never had someone tease me for the shape of my eyes or had my ethnic heritage called into question, it seems like they would be ignoring a pretty important aspect of who I am, right? I mean, we are all a product of our past. Ignoring something that has had such an impact on forming me into who I am seems like you'd be missing a pretty big aspect of, well, ME. 

We exercise a form of "non-colorblindness" every day. We realize that sometimes we shouldn't say things too sarcastically around certain friends because they are very sensitive. We avoid certain topics that we know bring up bad memories or associations for friends and family. We compromise on what movies we watch because we realize that not everyone is into horror/romcom/insert genre here movies. Sometimes we stop making short jokes around people because we know that they are particularly self conscious of their height. All of these things acknowledge that people are NOT all the same. People are NOT coming from identical backgrounds. People are NOT entities that we can view and act upon in a vacuum.

Acknowledging race should not be viewed negatively any more than acknowledging height, weight, hair color, gender, or any other part of someone.

So can we please stop aspiring to be "colorblind"? Instead can we aspire to be someone that sees everything? Let's try to be the opposite of colorblind. Let's be colorful. Let's rejoice and celebrate our differences and embrace how these differences have worked to create such a dynamic and thriving group of people. Let's get excited by our differences rather than trying to ignore them. Let's ask one another to talk about things that other people in the group have never experienced, seek out new information, and truly revel in the diversity around us.

Come on, people. Get colorful.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Late to the Party

Maybe this is my privilege speaking (which is entirely possible), but I don't really understand why people are upset about the influx of suburban white women that have come forward in the past week to stand up against our cheeto-colored President and his cabinet of fruit loops.

Does it suck that these white women weren't there to support women of color when unarmed young black men were (and still are) shot and killed by law enforcement? Of course. Is it horrible that they weren't standing up for their Muslim brothers and sisters when the idea of a Muslim registry was brought up? Definitely. Is it incomprehensible that these women never seemed to speak up when a white man running for President called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers? Absolutely.

My question is this: how do we move forward?

I don't see anything wrong with pointing out that the middle class suburban white women of America are awfully late to the party, but shouldn't we embrace the fact that they showed up to the party at all? I mean, yes, minority women have been talking until we are blue in the face about the current system and its inequalities, but better late than never, right?

I understand, intellectually, that there is a lot of pain and a lot of bitterness among women of color because these privileged women had the luxury of coming late to the party and ended up getting more recognition for it than the years that minority women have put into this fight. It hurts when someone that you feel should support you stays silent. It hurts when they don't speak up in your defense or when they turn a blind eye to what's happening in front of them. It hurts to realize that someone who said they love and support you in private is unwilling to say those same words in public. It hurts and white women need to understand that they have hurt their minority sisters with their silence and inaction, but is getting mad at them once they realize that they made a mistake the way to build bridges and mend the relationship?

Frankly, the burden of speaking up for civil rights has always been something that has fallen most heavily on people of color and minorities. It's awful and it shouldn't be that way, but it is. Maybe that will change one day. Hopefully that will change one day. Unfortunately, that day isn't today.

We know that today isn't that day because that day should have been yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. Women of all backgrounds should have stood in solidarity from the very beginning of this mess, but they didn't.

Okay, so maybe I do understand why women of color have been so upset about the recent addition of support from white women. However, there's more to it than that.

I'm the oldest child in my family and I'll be the first to tell you that one of my least favorite phrases to hear emerge from my parents' mouths when I was little was, "Be the bigger person." I used to think, "Or maybe my little brother could just stop being a stupid person and then I wouldn't need to be the bigger person." After all, if he hadn't been annoying to begin with, I wouldn't have to make up for his immaturity, right? Well, yes, but that wasn't going to change things. The reality is that he had done something to annoy me and I either had to move forward or sit and be angry forever. The irony of the second option is that by holding onto my annoyance or anger, I would have been doing the same thing that my brother did: acting immature and petty.

Honestly, I still hate being told that I need to be the bigger person. I really, really do. Even as an adult my first thought is that I shouldn't have to be the bigger person, they should have to pay better attention and be more aware. Unfortunately, as true as that may be, it still doesn't change what has happened. I can either acknowledge it and use it as a tool for education or I can focus on the pain that it caused and try to get back at whoever caused it by lashing out so that they feel hurt the same way that I do. Only one of these options is constructive.

This doesn't mean that we have to ignore that white women didn't show up until well after kickoff (forgive me for using so many analogies and metaphors). In fact, I think that they absolutely need to be told by women of color that they are kinda crappy teammates. After all, it's pretty selfish, not to mention incredibly unfair, to let your team start with a man down and expect them to keep the game close until you get there. To take this even further, if you show up late and your teammates have been playing an uneven game, you shouldn't be surprised if they are upset at you. In fact, you should expect it. You should also expect that when you get there, they will already be tired from having to make up for your absence. You win or lose as a team and you've just put your team at a distinct disadvantage just by not being on time.

But in order to win, you need to play as a team. When the final whistle blows, it doesn't matter who showed up when. The only thing that matters is the final score. That's the objective, right? We need to make sure that we win. Period.

So be mad at the latecomers. Give them grief for slacking and not paying attention. Then get back to the business of winning because this is not something that we can afford to lose. This is the World Cup, the Championship, End Game. It's fine to be angry and upset, just don't lose sight of the goal. After all, this is a game that we cannot afford to lose because if we lose, everyone loses.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Fear Itself


Hey, America. Why are we so scared?

No, really. Fear makes us stupid. When we are fearful, psychologists have shown that we are significantly more likely to cling to what we know rather than explore new options. Fear causes us to hunker down and bury our heads in the sand. We become paralyzed and, by extension, stop looking for ways to improve or resolve things and instead look for ways to survive things.

Medical experts say that the anxious feeling we get when we're afraid is a standardized biological reaction, but that doesn’t explain why we are afraid in the first place. Psychology has identified five major categories that most human fear seems to fall into:

Extinction - Because, let’s be real for a moment, what is more terrifying than ceasing to exist?
Mutilation - This refers to more than something as straightforward as dismemberment. This can manifest itself in a fear of getting bitten by a bug or animal, scraping your face and getting a scar, even the natural appearance of wrinkles as you age falls into the category of “fear of mutilation”.
Loss of Autonomy - This is a fear of losing power. This loss can be physical (think of kidnapping, assault, or imprisonment) or it can be less tangible (think more along the lines of being in a situation where everything is outside of your control or, for a more concrete example, being held responsible for something that you didn’t actually do).
Separation - Somewhat akin to extinction, this fear is rooted in not mattering. It’s one of the reasons why the silent treatment often works. It’s where the idea of FOMO comes from (the fear of missing out). This fear is founded on the idea that we might not actually matter, ever, to anyone.
Ego-Death - This one is both simple and complicated. On one hand, it’s pretty easy to understand that no one likes being humiliated or shamed. However, it’s deeper than that. Ego-death is the fear that your entire understanding of who you are will be destroyed. The idea that we might reach a point where we don’t even know who we are anymore is terrifying to most people.Think of this example: someone thinks that their heritage is from Scotland, Iceland, and Germany without any other influences. They run DNA tests, convinced that this will prove that they have a pure lineage only to discover that somewhere in their family tree they have both Native American and African ancestry. This completely changes the way they view the world and their place in it.

When you think of some of the more common phobias, these categories are pretty much going to cover them all: afraid of public speaking? That’s probably a combination of ego-death and possibly a long-term consequence of separation. Fear of clowns? Generally this fear is rooted in extinction (killer clowns), mutilation (violent clowns), or loss of autonomy (kidnapper clowns). What about fear of commitment? Generally that is related to a fear of losing one's autonomy because you worry about not being in control of your life any more.

So why is this important?

Polls show majorities of Americans across demographics are worried about being victims of terrorism and crime. These numbers have surged recently to highs we haven’t seen for more than a decade in the US. The results? Policies like this and this.

Thanks to our fear, we imprison over a hundred thousand people with no more justification than “they look like the Bad Guys.” We question the loyalty of our own citizens. We deny the facts. Even worse, we flat-out make things up.

The basic trick here is to make a clear connection between what you are proposing and a specific outcome. Often this looks like a solution to something dangerous, or, more commonly, highlighting the dangers of not doing something.

It’s time that we take a long, hard look at ourselves.

According to Chapman University’s annual Survey of American Fears, people in America are most afraid of corrupt government officials, terrorist attacks/terrorism, not having enough money for the future, and government restrictions on firearms and ammunition. However, we need to look at whether or not these fears are founded in truth or if it’s potentially a result of fake news and other lies.

The US Department of State has explicitly reported that, “The total number of terrorist attacks in 2015 decreased by 13% and total deaths due to terrorist attacks decreased by 14%, compared to 2014. This was largely due to fewer attacks and deaths in Iraq, Pakistan, and Nigeria. This represents the first decline in total terrorist attacks and deaths worldwide since 2012.” Yet, Americans are more afraid than ever before about terrorist attacks?

Why are we afraid of immigration when data suggests that native-born Americans are more likely to commit crimes than immigrants? Why are we afraid that the government will take away our guns when the government hasn’t done anything to even revise the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act since 1986?

What are we afraid of?

The 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, is famous for having said, “The only thing we have to fear...is fear itself.” Well, maybe that’s our problem. We’re scared because we’re scared. We’re scared because it’s easier to be scared than to seek out the truth. We’re scared because it’s better than finding out that we were wrong. We’re scared because it gives us an excuse to do and say outrageous things without consequence. We’re scared because we don’t want to behave like responsible adults.

Come on. We’re better than this.

Monday, June 13, 2016

On Gun Rights and Regulation

I've been trying to wrap my head around the latest in a long, long, long line of mass shootings in the United States. It's unfathomable to me that someone would be so full of rage and hate that they would go out and kill 50 strangers. I don't know much about the shooter and I know even less about the victims other than the community that they are associated with. However, there is something I do know: public discourse in the United States needs to change.

We have to do something about gun regulation. We don't need to take away people's guns. We need to make sure that all gun owners are responsible. Frankly, I don't know why more gun owners aren't speaking out about how there needs to be stronger restrictions regarding who can own a firearm. After all, the more mass shootings that we have in this country without outcry from gun owners, the crazier said gun owners seem. By saying ridiculous things like, "Not all gun owners," we are allowing people to excuse the behavior of a fringe group of gun owners without doing anything to prevent more of them from getting their hands on weapons.

Seriously, if you are a responsible gun owner, why would you protest having a three-to-five day waiting period before you get to pick up a gun? After all, if you are a responsible gun owner, that won't affect you other than a short delay while you wait for verification. Why wouldn't you want more background checks and verifications? Why wouldn't you want the kinds of weapons available like the semi- and fully-automatic weapons that are so popular among mass shooters to require verification and certification and registration? How is requiring to register your weapons in any way infringing on your rights? How is registering your guns any different than registering a vehicle?

Like many of you, I have heard arguments from people that believe that it's a God-given right to own a firearm. However, in light of all of this tragedy, I can't help but wonder how these gun rights supporters can continue believing that the assumed rights of one person outweighs the importance of public safety.

"The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."


How can people keep saying this? How about we change it to, "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is to take away the gun"?

Columbine High School had an armed deputy sheriff and 13 people were still killed. Virginia Tech had an entire police force, including a SWAT team, when 32 people were killed in two separate attacks by the same person. At the Tucson shooting where US Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot and 6 others were killed, not only was there an armed civilian present who failed to stop the shooter, but he almost shot one of the unarmed people who tackled and disarmed the shooter. The Fort Hood massacre that left another 13 people dead occurred on a military base filled with soldiers. Heck, even the Secret Service couldn't protect President Reagan and his press secretary Jim Brady when both were shot in an assassination attempt.

This has gotten completely out of hand.

"An armed society is a polite society."

According to the FBI crime report from 2013, there are only five states where less than 50% of murders were committed with a firearm. In case you're curious, the states are Iowa, Alaska (most gun-related deaths in Alaska are suicides), New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota. That means that in the remaining 45 states, more than 50% of murders involved a firearm.

If we are to believe that the better armed we are as a society, the fewer deaths we are going to see, there seems to be clear evidence to the contrary. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, the three most peaceful states in the union are Maine, Vermont, and Utah. In Maine, 50% of murders involved a firearm. In Vermont, 56% of murders involved a firearm. In Utah, 63% of murders involved a firearm.

How could someone possibly believe that we don't have a gun problem in this country?

The United States owns more than half of the world's civilian guns. We have the highest firearms murder rate per capita in the world. In fact, we are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the United States than someone that lives in another developed country.

The way we talk about and regulate guns in this country is completely absurd. It's wrong. It's harmful. It's dangerous. It's more than time for us to stop the ridiculous arguments supporting gun ownership and start looking at the importance of public safety.

I remember back in 2011, people would say things like, "You can't stop doing X or else the terrorists win." Well, what if the terrorists are my fellow Americans? I went to a movie the other day and thought, "At least I don't have to worry about getting shot here since the theatre is pretty empty. There are other theatres here that have more people right now that a shooter would probably hit before this one." Do you realize that this means that somewhere in the back of my head I was thinking, "I'm going to the movies. I might get shot," and I had to use a flimsy mental reassurance that I probably wasn't going to get shot since I was seeing a less popular movie than other people?

That is so screwed up.

I'm very lucky to have season tickets to multiple sports in my city, but when I go to sporting events I automatically look for multiple exit routes from my seat as well as any places that I might be able to utilize for cover or concealment in case something happens. It's become part of my day. It's now routine. This has become something that sits in the back of my mind whenever I'm out in public because I don't know who around me is crazy and carrying.

Maybe it would be easier if I didn't feel like I have so much to live for. If anything were to happen to me, my family would be crushed. I have close friends that would have a gaping hole in their lives. I have a job that I am good at. I have dreams that I still want to achieve. All of that could be gone in an instant. Taken by a stranger that knows nothing about me, my friends, my family, or my life.

I've never been in a situation where I have had to fear for my life other than one time in college when there was a murder-suicide on campus. I was an RA in the dorm closest to the building where it happened and it was less than two weeks after the Virginia Tech shooting. Although the police quickly determined that there was no further danger to the campus community, it was still a terrifying experience.

Is this the new normal? Is this the way that we want to live? Is this the way that we want the rest of the world to view us? Are we really satisfied with our own citizens being afraid for their lives because we are unwilling to better regulate weapons?

This is unacceptable. This must change. We are better than this. It's time to prove it.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Anxiety is No Joke

Panic attacks aren’t funny.  In fact, panic attacks can be downright terrifying.  Seriously, if you’ve never had one, it’s not like those times when you momentarily freak out about losing your phone for about 30 seconds and then find it wedged between your couch cushions.  Panic attacks are Seriously Not Fun.  

Imagine this: suddenly you can’t seem to take a full breath, your heart starts pounding in your ears.  You wonder, “Am I having a heart attack at the age of 25?” Then your eyes start to slightly blur and your brain starts telling you that you are about 2 seconds away from dying.  Now make that feeling last for 5 minutes in real time, but about 2 years inside of your head.  You can’t think, you can’t even effectively communicate to someone near you that anything weird is going on.  Everyone around you continues to function normally, but you just want to run to the bathroom and throw up.  Of course, that’s assuming that you can remember where the bathroom is and how to get there.

That, my friends, is just one variation on a theme.  Not all panic attacks are like that, but that’s how mine feel.  The worst part is that these panic attacks can be triggered by anything.  Seriously, anything.  One day I was going for a quick walk outside of my office to stretch my legs.  I started thinking about how nice the weather was and how spring was just around the corner.  That’s when I saw it: DeathFluff.  You know what I’m talking about.  Every spring that fluffy cotton stuff invades the air, choking the life out of anyone with even the slightest hint at allergies.  As soon as I saw that first speck of DeathFluff, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I wondered if it was a sudden allergy attack or if something else was happening.  Then I started to lose my balance and had to sit on a conveniently located curb.  Of course, I almost fell over trying to get down to the ground, but I’m sure I only looked like I was mildly intoxicated rather than dealing with a panic attack.  

You see, I had realized that I hadn’t taken the usual amount of antihistamines that morning before work. I had overslept a bit and dashed out of my apartment like a mini whirlwind.  Unfortunately, that meant that the teeniest, tiniest bit of DeathFluff caused me to completely lose it.  Yes, I have allergies.  Bad allergies.  Like, bad enough that I am supposed to carry an inhaler around during most of spring and summer so that when it triggers an asthma attack I can manage it without passing out from oxygen deprivation. However, this tiny bit of DeathFluff was absolutely not enough to trigger an allergy attack and, really, I was in no danger of having a massive allergy attack at that moment.  

Logically, I knew all of this.  Panic attacks, however, do not care about logic.  Panic attacks are like little toddlers lurking in your subconscious. “No, honey.  You can’t play with the stove because it’s hot and it will burn you.” Cue tiny human outrage and about 20 minutes of screaming and kicking while laying in the middle of the kitchen floor.  

Thankfully, I was able to handle it and get back to the office before the end of my lunch break, albeit a little wobbly-kneed and pale.

It bothers me how people that have never dealt with anything like a legitimate panic attack seem to think that they aren’t a “big deal” or that they are as easy to “cure” as just “toughing it out”.  Yes, I have actually heard all of these explanations from people.

Anyhow, my point is that if anyone out there tries to say that panic attacks are “nothing” or that you should be able to just “get over” them has no idea what they are talking about.  Also, if you are dealing with anxiety disorders or depression or any other kind of mental illness, you aren’t alone. Also, if you don’t struggle with any of these conditions, don’t try to act like you know what it’s like unless you have actually done your due diligence and read up on what it’s actually like.   As someone that has struggled with panic and anxiety for much of my life, I find it terribly tragic when people who have never had to deal with these things pass judgement on those of us that are struggling with daily anxiety.

It’s not something one can simply will away.  It’s not something one can just “get over”.  It’s not even a condition where there’s a magic pill that will somehow make things all better.  Many people, myself included, need to go through multiple medications before they find one that actually works for them.  Also, since the medication is helping to balance out individual brain chemistry, it can take 4-6 weeks for someone to actually see any kind of effect on their anxiety or depression.  To put this in perspective, it took me almost a year to find the right combination of medications to bring my anxiety to manageable levels.

Okay, getting off my soap box now.  Just had to throw this out into the internet abyss.  For anyone that has happened across this post, hopefully it has either helped you deal with your own anxiety issues, put some of this into perspective, or at least has caused you to pause and think.