My Daughter’s First Panic Attack

I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. and Lundbeck to write about depression in college-aged students.  All opinions are my own.

As parents we pride ourselves in a lot of firsts. First steps, first haircut, first day of school, first dance….There just aren’t enough parenting articles written to prepare you for the first time your child has a panic attack. Earlier this year, due to a paid partnership with Med-IQ, we had begun having conversations at home that opened the door for our daughter to reach out to us quickly to help her through her first panic attack. I hope that by sharing our story it encourages you to talk about anxieties with your family members and remove the stigma in conversations surrounding mental health.

“I can’t breathe. I’m feeling very claustrophobic right now and my chest feels very tight. It feels like someone is sitting on my chest. It’s like I’m trying to get a deep breath but someone is holding my lungs. It’s like trying to breathe through a straw.”

This text from our high school daughter sent on a random Tuesday caused my husband and I to drop all the work we were doing on opposite ends of town. While we were proud that her first instinct was to reach out to us and talk her through solutions, we were highly concerned. She told us she was going to get some water and try to calm herself down. We encouraged her to go speak with the campus nurse as well.

As she was waiting for the nurse, we were able to reassure her through texts that health doesn’t just mean flu or throwing up. It also can mean taking inventory of mental and emotional health as well. It is totally valid to seek guidance from professionals at the first sign of an issue even if it doesn’t seem like a “big deal”. I was so grateful that we had already been encouraged to have these conversations and had been equipped with insights and tools on how to guide her through our partnership with Med-IQ.

How to Help
One of the things that kept us calm as we were talking through this with her was the information we had gained. We also know that in a handful of months she will be at college on her own and we need to continue to equip her for the transition to living away from us. There are several online tools that will help students learn how to track their own stressors and know when to get help. This site is focused on the ‘transition’ from HS to college: This is another screening tool that is used a lot for colleges and universities:

Whether your child is already a college student and is coming home for Thanksgiving or in high school preparing for college, prepare to set a little time by the fire to check in with them holiday season. By now, our students have all thought about the transition from high school to college. They may be experiencing or worried about a wide array of stressors to manage whether it be academic, home-sickness, worries of financial aid, or social pressures like underage drinking or sexual pressure. 

Part of the talk we had with doctors learning how best to prepare our students was helping them decipher who they are and who they want to be, and part of that is learning how to take care of their own health. If your child can talk with you about their anxiety, assure them that help is available. Once you and your child are aligned with the right resources, both of can breathe a sigh of relief.

Help us by Taking a Survey
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey, which includes additional education on this topic, will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with depression and mental health in your college-aged child, which will help us develop future educational initiatives.

Take the survey here!
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If I Knew Then, What I Know Now

Graduations, growing up, moving on…. lots of changes in the Chase household lately.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what bits of wisdom I still want to share as our “big kids” get ready to go off to college. No one tells you about this part of parenting. It’s a bittersweet, emotional time to say the least. It feels like the last grains of sand slipping through the hourglass from childhood to adulthood.  In some ways, it feels like a race against time to give the best and most useful advice. In other ways, it feels like just moments ago it was me in their place, equally full of questions and confidence.

(For the record-18 year old me hates that I’m posting this picture. Pretty certain that was prom hair.)

18 year old me hates that I'm posting this picture.

I think we all have those moments of ” If I knew then, what I know now “. If only. So many things I would do differently. So many things that I’m grateful I took a risk and did anyway. I’m still not exactly sure what advice I want to give as the birds leave the nest. Sometimes we just aren’t ready. Sometimes life takes your breath and your words away.

I’m glad I have so many great people I can rely on in times like this. I believe we can learn a lot from one another, our victories and our challenges. So I reached out to several others in my circles and asked them what advice they would give to their 18 year old self. It’s pretty great advice whether you are 18 or beyond.

If I Knew Then, What I Know Now

  • Work hard, but it’s ok not to have it all figured out. Be patient with yourself and others. Heartbreak hurts… Love is still worth the risk.
  • Give all your problems 3 days before you act on any of them . Three days later, your problems, perspective, and priorities are likely to change.
  • Everything that you are going through will be worth it. That time in your life that you’re going to go through where you were so sad, where things were dark, where nothing made sense, when you had no direction: I promise it’ll all be worth it. Don’t try to force yourself to be someone you’re not, don’t hide behind your smile, give yourself full permission to hurt, be angry, be sad, embrace all of your feelings! You’ll want to try to get people to love you, feel like you have to earn love from people to prove that you are worthy: girl you are soooo worthy, but most importantly of all you are worthy of your own love! My last piece of advice: have fun, travel, don’t worry about what you are “suppose” to do, do what inspires your soul, what drives you to become better, do what your passion tells you to do.
  • Sleep around more. I stuck with some guys out of misguided “sex =love” guilt for way too long in really damaging relationships. I think if I’d had more experience I could have been able to tell the difference between love and a good time.
  • Study abroad at least one semester or summer during college! There’s not another time in your life when you can do something like that so easily! See the world!!
  • Life can be incredibly short. Love more. Forgive quicker. Take more pictures WITH your mom. Make memories! Having lost my mom unexpectedly, it changed my world forever.
  • Don’t compromise your potential future for what is in front of you. And to value the losses as much as the wins because there are lessons within them.
  • Run after God! Find your identity in Him and not in guys. Stop being stupid and go from guy to guy. Finding out who you are by yourself won’t kill you.
  • Always believe your dreams are attainable and worth pursuing.
  • Be yourself. If that doesn’t fit someone else’s definition, that’s ok. Move on. There is someone perfect for you. Don’t settle. And that includes friends, communities, and careers. Stay true to yourself. Be open to what the universe has for you. And you’ll find yourself in an amazing place.
  • If someone doesn’t love you for who you are, the only change you should make in your life is to let them go. Make room for the people who will love you like you deserve. You are enough!
  • It’s never as bad as it seems, and things always get better.
  • Love yourself and love yourself hard, girl. Learn the lessons. Be good to others. Don’t be so angry. Smile. Laugh. Enjoy life. Travel. Eat. Repeat.
  • Don’t let others dictate your future! Dream big and seek it out, no matter what others say. I had big dreams, but they were crushed and now I’m finally following them! Oh, and don’t go for the bad boy, LOL!
  • Save a portion of each paycheck, enjoy each day, and be kind to others!
  • Don’t hold on to relationships because you feel you have to. People should earn entry into your heart and if they don’t it’s their loss.
  • If you only knew how “not fat” you really were! Enjoy life. Be free. Have fun. Travel as much as you can! Stop caring about what everyone thinks. Learn to love you and be comfortable being alone. Remember your morals. Try lots of new things. Take lots of pictures. Write it all down in a journal.
  • Do NOT sign up for all those credit cards at the booths all over campus! No matter what they’re giving away! Learn to use cash and budget with what you have.
  • Wait at least 5 years to get married. 18 is the next step in a big life- enjoy it, your friends, your family. Right now is the time to live it up!
  • Go to summer school, finish whatever education you want before you have children. Take a big trip somewhere.
  • Experience life. Take chances. Do what makes YOU happy, not what you think others expect you to do. Simple as that.I lived many, many years (even into adulthood) pleasing people and wondering why things never worked out for ME…the answer is because I was too busy doing what everyone else thought I should be doing that I didn’t allow myself to grow, experience, learn, create my being.
  • When I was 18, I met my husband. It was terrible timing but it worked out since today is our 19th anniversary. So my advice to my 18 yo self would be “trust yourself”. Also I would steer myself away from paying for college classes on reading Mayan writing, calendaring, and mesoAmerican anthropology and into accounting classes because: job prospects
  • Choose your friends wisely. You should put more thought and care into that decision your first semester of college than any other decision you make.
  • Put God first…always and everything else will fall into place. Focus on having “experiences” and creating memories in your relationships not collecting “stuff”. Don’t sweat the small stuff and always find joy in everything you do!!
  • Take your time and slow down, just because you’re 18 doesn’t mean you know it all and it doesn’t mean you’re completely independent. Stay in the faith and follow Jesus. Don’t let boys become a distraction, and stop being a people pleaser. Focus on the good and ignore the bad, and a bad choice doesn’t define you, we all make them.
  • Don’t let other people influence your decisions. Go with your gut! It’s usually ALWAYS right.
  • Don’t open those credit cards! Also, stop trying so hard to make everyone like you. Eventually you’ll find your people.
  • All the things that seem to “ruin your life” don’t really matter. What matters are friends that truly care about you. Not about their image. That’s true throughout life.
  • Take your time, don’t rush. Don’t settle, you are worth so much and can conquer the world if you set your mind to it. And, always, always trust your instincts!
  • Seek out a mentor or two in the areas of work that interest you. Ask questions of successful people in those areas, such as “What can I expect from a career in this field?” and “What skills do I need to develop to be successful doing this?” If you start your adult life asking “Who can I help today?” you will never run out of opportunities to be of service. And it turns out that being of service is really what this life is all about. No one is ever on their death-bed wishing they had achieved less or touched fewer lives.
  • Respect yo’ self.

What advice would you add?

Just when you think your teenagers have given up on you…

Today the strangest thing happened. Our teenager complimented us to his friends.

No really.. I’ll say it again. Our teenager actually complimented his parents ( that’s us!) to his friends.

Just when you think your teenagers have given up on you…

Y’all it was the strangest thing. He called earlier in the afternoon to ask if a new friend could come over and hang out. That wasn’t the strange part. We always require our kids to give a courtesy call if they are bringing guests home. Of course, we agreed. (Parental sidenote: As long as a parent is home, ALWAYS say yes when teens ask to invite their friends over no matter how messy the house is – they don’t care –  and you will always want your kids to feel more comfortable in your house that outside your home. It’s the way life should be.)

So, I am in my room working and I hear our son giving the new kid the house tour. Always good to alert others where the fire exits, snacks and extra toilet paper are kept right? I always find it interesting the features of our home that the kids point out when they introduce our home. This time I chuckled a bit when the boys got to the laundry room and our son went into great detail concerning all the features of our fancy washer and dryer to his 15 yr old friend as if he would be regularly stopping by to do laundry. In his defense, my husband insisted on teaching him to do all his own laundry at the age of 12. It was a pretty awesome thing to have their dad teach them to do laundry.  Then, my heart melted a bit when he told his friend  how cool his mom’s job was and bragged on my job as a blogger. ( Thanks LG for the street cred!)

I totally played it cool and just kept typing in my room.

Later on I asked them if his friend would need a ride home and he asked if could stay for dinner. Again, we agreed. We  have an open dinner policy at our house too. Anyone who is around at dinnertime, gets fed. There are a few rules though. 1) All family and guests eat together at the table, even if we have to squeeze. There is always room for 1 more. 2) Everyone gives thanks for the evening meal. Attitude of gratitude y’all. 3) You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. There is only one meal and unless its your birthday, I don’t take requests. 4) When you are here, you are family.

Our kids all know the rules. They know not to be surprised when we tell corny jokes around the table or when we quiz their friends about the best/worst part of their day too( see rule #4). We are corny, crazy, and sometimes endearing bunch but we are always ourselves, however that appears to our newcomers.

As Randy & I were cleaning up from dinner and loading the dishwasher in the kitchen, we heard our oldest telling  some of our family journey of how we got to Austin. He was telling about how his dad and I started and ran our own company for several years and in his words “were successful” and how cool it all was to see his parents work so hard. Whhhhat?! Our teenager thought we were cool? He recognized our efforts AND he was telling his friends?!? What strange dimension have we entered where WE, the parents, were cool again?!?

Years of eye rolling, being told “things aren’t like when you were kids”, the like. Were we to think this season of life might be on its way out????

I’m not completely convinced but tonight we got a glimmer of the other side. It was nice.