Nicole Gregory

words and portraits @darlingnikkkki

Photographer here

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“OMG, you just gave me a panic attack!” I’m just now learning not to take offense

when I hear someone call that out after being scared, or given crazy news. I’ve held my panic attacks like a part of me for the past 23 years. I am panic attacks. I get defensive with them. These are my attacks, and no one knows what Nicole Gregory’s panic attacks feel like.

That mindset has been my crutch and the only reason why it took me this long to step into recovery. If I met someone who did not have any of the same panic attack symptoms as myself, I had them pegged as dramatic. They have NO idea what a REAL panic attack is. Their hands don’t clamp up where even another human being can’t pry them open. They don’t involuntarily vomit, they don’t have their own mind turn against them. I’ve explained it like this to each one of the six therapists I've seen and given up on; Imagine you’re in an empty room, and the window is open. It’s a beautiful day outside and the sun is shining in. Imagine you are holding a bright, plump, red balloon. Now, let that balloon slowly fly towards the window, and right outside. Imagine it floating into the sky until you can’t see it anymore. I couldn’t do that. My balloon would bounce back inside. No matter how hard I tried, my balloon would near the window almost making it outside, only to stop. As if I had invisible plastic covering the opening. I’d try so hard to get my balloon to leave the window, but my own mind, what makes me; me, had a mind of its own. My determination to get my balloon out is what has driven me to where I am today.

I couldn’t eat more than half a banana a day. It was exhausting living like that. An anxious, sickly woman. Laying on my mother’s bed, sitting next to the banana and sandwich she placed next to me. Checking every hour to see how many bites I took. She pleaded with me, to just take a bite. I was down to 78 pounds. I felt like a floating corpse, aimlessly existing. There was no point in anything. It took me a lot of time, determination, and fight to climb out of that hole, and I furiously clawed my way to the top. 

 I am nourished, I am replenished, and I have taken back what’s rightfully mine. My mind, my body, and my confidence. I am not recovered. There is no recovery, there is only acceptance. I’ve accepted that I have panic attacks. However i no longer have panic attacks 

 I no longer take offense. I’m not going to stick up for them anymore. For all the amount of years, I spent doing research, trying everything to stop an attack; it boiled down to one thing: confidence. I do everything in my life with confidence,  that i can stop an attack when I want to. I walk up those stairs with confidence, I cook, I clean, I commute, I work, and I work that camera with all the confidence I have in me. I want to be as confident as I portray in my images. When I feel that attack coming along, I greet it like that friend I no longer click with. “Hey, girl! Oh I know I haven’t hit you up in a

while; but I'm supppppper busy and on my way out!” I don’t ignore it, I don’t get scared to see it, I don’t approach it with anger. I don’t have time for that anymore.