Brianna Solis

© Copyright 2020 by Brianna Solis


Photo of a crowded store.

I was 7, and my sisters and I were at Macy's trying to “secretly buy” gifts for each other for Christmas. The problem for me was that I had to stay a distance away from my mom and my sister Paige. By the time we got out of the store, it was pitch black. I couldn’t bear to leave my mother and sister for even a millisecond. The thought of being alone in that store, a store that felt like a maze that I was never going to figure out. The store wasn’t just a store for me, it was my worst nightmare; a death trap. The feeling of being alone with random strangers, who were just trying to get their toddlers cute shirts, terrified the living hell out of me. The unknown of the unknown, or even being alone. In other words, it made me feel like I was going to be left behind, never found. Kidnapped from a store, and I could never see my family again. So many thoughts were in my mind when I stepped a near inch into any store. The smell of bodily odors, and open spaces with no one to be found; My family vanishing. All the other things that I was feeling decided to pop in my head a little later when I got farther, and farther away from my family. I practically clug to the shopping cart; It was the metal shield that protected me. This shield was also being pushed by my mom. 
Countless stops to festivals, stores, and the other events that I went to made me the most miserable kid on earth. I was constantly beating myself up for acting like a child, for crying and screaming when I would be left alone. I could tell people around me judged me, my own family judged me. They didn’t think I was listening at times, so they would joke about my eradicated fear of being alone in stores. Which made me feel even more pathetic and stupid. Sometimes, I just wished that I wasn’t such a “baby”. It felt like I never had any control over any situation, because the fear in me always took over. It was hopeless, the thought of not crying or feeling any sort of panic was nearly impossible for me at the time. It almost led me to think that I was going a bit insane. Also, the fact that no one else could understand to some degree of what I was going through; I was all ALONE.
Fear just led to extreme anger. I was so fed up with my family. After I would have my meltdowns they would ignore the situation instead of trying to help me. Many times it made me question why I cared about my family. It made me hate them. I even wished that I could get a new family sometimes. Even though I still considered the thought of replacing them, I still had hope for them to help me. They still disappointed me, no one in my family thought that I actually had a legit problem. They only claimed that I was acting like a 7-year-old. After waiting for months on months; I gave up. The only way I was going to ever last 30 minutes without having a meltdown, was if I was going to figure out my problem; I was on a journey to happiness, all ALONE once again. 
Suddenly, when I was in a store one day, I started to try to control the fear inside me that was ready to come bursting out of me. I took a couple deep breaths, and I started to reassure myself that I was going to be okay. No monster was going to come steal me. My family was not going to leave me forever. Also, that I was not alone, even though I was practically doing this journey all by myself. I could feel my chest relax, and my anxious, panicked head, start to mellow down. The tears in my eyes moved back in my eyes and didn’t touch my face. The muscles and tendons in my hands started to slowly, but surely, calm down completely. In this moment, I never felt so proud of myself; I wasn’t a “baby” anymore!
Although, I did find a way to stop the tantrums that occurred at stores, not every time did my genius methods work. I vaguely remember one time where it was really bad, and I was doing all the methods I thought would help, and finally my family noticed it. To my surprise, they were actually proud of me for attempting to stop my foolish tantrums. After about two or three years of constant self talk, and breathing methods, I could go into a store without any fear.
Until years later, when I was a freshman in high school I finally figured out what those tantrums really were. These episodes weren’t just tantrums, they were panic attacks. Everything suddenly was so clear to me. All the symptoms that I was told to research about matched up almost exactly to what I was dealing with. The funny thing was, the ways that you can help treat panic attacks is exactly what I did to stop mine. Even years later, I still get a little flustered when I am alone in a store. As of now, I am 15 and a half years old and I am on medicine for panic attacks and anxiety. I was prescribed this medicine because I had a gigantic episode. It also turns out that having panic attacks and anxiety kind of coincide together. At first I was hesitant to take pills for my disorder, because I never liked taking pills for anything. In fact, I would avoid taking pills at any cost, and only when I really needed it. I don’t really know why I opposed medicine. Maybe it was because I thought I needed to be strong, for myself and my family. 
All I know is that, I wasn’t crazy. I had an actual disorder; panic disorder. I dealt with it as best as I could at the time, and I am proud of that; I am proud of me. This disorder didn’t take me down, and the fear didn’t scare me to death. I wouldn’t want to change my disorder, because overall it taught me to be a better person and resilient.

I am Brie Solis. I wrote about a vivid childhood memory that has been on a backburner in my brain for my whole life. I wanted to share this personal story with you because I want other people to know that having a disorder doesn't make you a bad person. Also, that you can and will get better eventually. Although, this was very hard for me to open up to you about, it truly helped me in the end. Which really leads to emidate progress if you do decide to open up about your problem. It is honestly one of my biggest regrets, because I never opened up to my family. I also want people to know that the first step to get better is to be honest with yourself and also the people that you are close to. I hope this piece inspires people to love themselves, and conquer the disorder that they may have. 

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