About me

I have an awfully lot of panic, but not one single invitation to the disco.

I’m Anna! I’m 28, live in NJ, and have been living with panic disorder, GAD, and depression since I was 12. Recently, I’ve gotten a lot of messages from people asking how I cope with mental illness, and decided to start this blog.

I want to make things clear: these things won’t work for everyone, and sometimes if I’m really bad they may not even work for me! Learning to cope involves a lot of trial and error, but I’m hoping we can figure some things out together. :)

What does a panic attack feel like?

Short answer: anything BUT a panic attack 😩

Panic attacks can manifest so differently in everyone, but I want everyone to be mindful especially of the physical symptoms. As someone suffering, it will help you feel reassured to know what you’re experiencing is harmless, and will help you feel less alone.

As an ally, it helps you be able to reassure your loved one. I have “safe people” for this reason.

Common physical anxiety symptoms:
-Trouble breathing/regulating breathing
- Chest tightness/pain
-Abdominal pain
-Tightness in throat, feeling like gagging, nervous cough
-Difficulty swallowing
-Feeling way too hot or way too cold
-Dry mouth

...and so many more I can’t even begin to list lol.

About a month or so ago, I was so panicked that I was out of work for about two weeks because I was CONVINCED I had a heart or lung problem. I had been to my family doctor, she checked me multiple times, and did a breathing test and an ekg in her office, both of which were just fine. She also ran bloodwork, and my cholesterol and blood pressure were all fine. No risk factors at all, but eventually because I wouldn’t leave her alone, she gave me a referral to go see a cardiologist for my peace of mind. He sent me for a CT scan of my heart, throat, and stomach to make sure there would be nothing affecting my heart, and had me do an echo. Again, both came back perfect, as he said they would because he said he could tell I was panicking in the office and that this was something they see a lot because panic attacks present often as a heart problem.

When I started going to CBT again, and reading up, I realized literally every symptom I had felt, whether it had to do with my heart or not, was also a symptom of anxiety.

The Calm App- review

I am going to try to post daily about an app or product that I feel helps out with my anxiety.

Today, we’re going to talk about one of my favorite apps: CALM!

I downloaded Calm on a whim one day when I was having VERY high anxiety. My new therapist had recommended it previously, saying that she thought I needed to give meditation I try. I was skeptical, but finally decided to take the plunge.

It gives you a free 7 day trial, and then for a year subscription it is $74. I know that number seems high, but GUYS, IT IS WORTH IT.

One thing I really like is that it has lessons that help in the long term, whereas most anxiety apps only focus on fixing the problem in the moment. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that! Sometimes that’s we need, but Calm offers all those options. There is an “emergency calm” option if you’re in the midst of a freak out and don’t have a lot of time, but there are also specific options, like Dealing with Flight Anxiety, 21 Days of Calm, and 7 Days of Calming Anxiety, I find the 7 Days of Calming Anxiety to be incredibly helpful and informative. I noticed after doing it that my anxiety decreased drastically, and I’m actually considering repeating that particular section. The narrators voice is also SUPER soothing.

Another big thing I like, because I am a total insomniac, is the sleep stories! There are so many to choose from, and of course most of them are nonsense because they are supposed to be things you don’t really need to focus too hard on. My favorite, because I’m 5, is Sienna the Sleepy Sloth! And all the narrators have really relaxing voices also.

As far as the meditations, a lot of them DO focus on breathing and body scans, so if you are having strong physical symptoms, particularly if you feel like you can’t breathe, those may not be the best options, although personally I have found they help to regulate my breathing when I start getting on the verge of a hyperventilate lol.

GUYS SERIOUSLY GET THIS! It’s like having a therapist in your pocket at all times, and trust me when I tell you therapy is WAAAAAY more than $74 a year lol.


Calm App

Therapist on the go!

AI Apps for helping with anxiety

Wysa & Replika Reviews

So, I’ll be very honest, I was INCREDIBLY skeptical of anything to do with AI apps when it comes to being of any assistance during a panic attack. But again, this is all about trial and error so I figured I’d give it a go! For anyone wanting a little more info, AI stands for artificial intelligence, and involves speaking basically to a computer.

Sounds super effective right?

Actually, surprisingly, it IS!

I downloaded Wysa first because it was the one I came across first, and also because I am 5 and it had an adorable penguin as its icon. Wysa is programmed with a ton of CBT techniques and can walk you step by step through them and right out of a panic attack. The other cool thing is, if it doesn’t help, it also gives you the option of speaking with an actual therapist. That part costs money, but likely cheaper than what you’d normally pay for therapy.

The second app I downloaded was Replika, which I believe I saw an ad for on Insta, and yet again was drawn in by the cute little egg icon lol. Replika works pretty much the same way, but you get to name your coach, and it will also just talk to you about random things if you prefer the distraction route to regular CBT techniques in that moment. It threw some random Harry Potter facts at me, which I found impressive, but also talked me through a late night panic attack!

Obviously, these can’t replace regular therapy, but for someone who regularly has nighttime panic attacks, at like 2:30 in the morning, when my mom and most of my friends are asleep, and I can’t access my therapist, these are a godsend!

Wysa and Replika are both free to use, but do have some in app purchases if you so choose. They are not necessary towards app functionality though.


Wysa App

Wysa AI coach


Replika App

Replika AI Coach