"What are your triggers?"

Often people are intrigued as to whether or not I've worked out what my triggers are with panic attacks. To be honest, it's something I'm working on. There have been times I've had panic attacks, had no clue why, and still don't.

An example of my inexplicable panic attacks comes all the way from New York. Now, I get public transport several times a week; mostly buses, but I do get the odd train from time to time. Always been okay with public transport, unless I was getting the bus to school, when I would get pretty breathless, but nothing too dramatic.

Imagine my surprise when I get on a train in New York and find myself fully immersed in a panic attack like nothing I've ever known before. I was completely terrified, it didn't immediately click that it was a panic attack with it being so severe in comparison to past panic attacks, and it was generally a horrific experience. This happened on every train we caught, right up until Friday night when I regained control. I can only apologise to my travelling companions, because it wasn't a pleasant experience for anyone.

To this day, I don't know why the trains in New York freaked me out so much. I just know it was upsetting, exhausting, and caused me to feel pretty guilty about going on the trip in the first place.

However, there are some panic attacks where the cause is entirely obvious.

Once again, this little story comes from New York. I've mentioned I regained control of my anxiety on the Friday night. However, that was not the last panic attack of the trip. Far from it. The very night I sat down in the apartment thinking "well I'm glad that's over and I can enjoy the last of the trip", I was assaulted. Now, some may say I set myself up for that, because I travelled 3.5k miles with people who were essentially "strangers" off the internet. Maybe I did, but that doesn't change the fact that 3 out of my 4 travelling companions were awesome human beings for the entire rip.

Credit where it's due, my assaulter was brilliant during the week, however on the Friday night things went sour and there were some more major panic attacks. This time the cause was obvious; I don't like being touched non-consensually. Who would!? So I went into panic mode out of fear; who else is going to get hurt, what will happen if I defend myself, how am I meant to defend myself when I can't even breathe? These were all thoughts running through my head.

In conclusion, I don't think it's possible to determine all of my triggers. Sometimes I'm able to overcome my anxiety surrounding a situation without ever discovering what it is that's actually making me anxious. Other times the cause of the anxiety is obvious from the get-go, and there's no clear path to overcoming the anxiety.