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  • Writer's pictureKaliya Johnson

Trash Talking Is Part Of The Game

Have you ever had an panic attack?

No? Lucky you. I have.

Let me try and explain to you what a general one is like.

Everything around you disappears and its just you. Your heart is racing and you feel like it might explode out of your chest. You‘re trying to grasp for air but nothing is coming.

Then the panic starts to set in.

What's happening?

I can't breathe!

Where am I?

You can't think straight, you can't remember how you got to this point because it happens just like that. All in a matter of seconds

That's the not so funny thing about anxiety. Anxiety doesn't care where you are, what you're doing, or who you're with. For instance, you can be in the middle of a game. Yupp, she does not care.

I had experienced a panic attack before but nothing like this one. It was my sophomore year and we were playing the team, I was against the player, who had caused my minor attack earlier in the season by something she said. A few deep breathes helped get me through that one.

But this time, it was very different. It was the end of of the 2nd period and she had a few choice words for me that I would prefer not to relive. Actually, let’s call it what it is! She went out of her way, again, to yell racial slurs at me. In that moment she again reminded me that I was a black woman playing a white persons game. The difference this time was no one was around to hear. It was just me and her. I remember the anger and frustration coming over me as the buzzar rang. There was nothing I could do. I mean yea, I definitely could have handled the situation and put her on her ass. But then how would that make me look? ‘The angry black woman?’ We were winning, and the classic "look at the scoreboard" insult wasn't going to work this time.

Anyway, back to the story. I rushed off the ice in my anger, skipping saying good job to my teammates and goalie for another great period. I got into the locker room and threw off my helmet and gloves. My heart was racing, and I was pacing back and forth in the locker room. Coach came in first and saw me, asked if I was okay. I scurried off to the bathroom while mumbling "I’m fine.". I got to the bathroom and it all hit me. First anger, then frustration, then crying, and then I went dark. All of sudden the room went dark, I was in a panic and reaching for air. I reached for my throat because it felt like someone was choking me. In that moment I felt trapped in my body not able to scream out for help. Trying to calm down but that only seemed to make it worse. Panic and fear had completely taken over my body. I don't know how I got out of that moment but I did. I would go on to play the rest of the game without letting anyone know what just happened. I couldn't tell you what happened the rest of the game, I just know we won. It's all a dark spot in my memory; probably my mind trying to protect itself from reliving it.

Having an panic attack was nothing like I had ever experienced before. Later I would have a conversation with my therapist who would help me figure out what my trigger was for it. The idea of not being in control of a situation combined with my anger and frustration was not a good mix for me. I was in a situation where I felt trapped, powerless, and that I couldn't make my feelings known so the stress of that took over in the form of an panic attack.

Thankfully I haven't had an panic attack since. I have learned what my triggers are and I do everything I can to avoid those types of situations. But I think it's important for people to understand how a few harsh words, during a hockey game or any other event, can have a debilitating effect on people.

While it may just be trash talking, your words have real meaning and can greatly affect someone.

When it comes to panic attacks, there is no, “suck it up it's part of the game”. Anxiety doesn't care! And if she feels threaten, then she will let you know. So next time you go to trash talk someone as part of the game, watch what you say. Your words have meaning and go deeper than a puddle.

Anxiety shows up in different forms. For me, in this specific instance, it came in the form of an attack. Athletes, every day, experience anxiety related to their sport. We experience performance anxiety, preparation anxiety, and/or simply anxiety in general. I chose to share one of my experiences because I want athletes to know that they aren't alone.

Let's be anxious together!

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