Olivia’s Catastrophe ~ Forgetting to Breathe

Olivia’s Catastrophe ~ Forgetting to Breathe

Hey everyone!

I hope you all managed to have a good week. I know some of the university people are nearing the holidays and I hope you’re enjoying it!

Olivia’s Catastrophe is a discussion post I host here on the blog. And today I want to talk about something that happens to me in real life and then try and apply it to books. Then at the end I’m going to try and bring a deeper meaning to it. So! Let’s see how that goes.

Today I wanted to talk about forgetting to breathe. I’m sure a lot of you know that I love basketball and playing it because I am constantly going on about it. But not every game is easy to play, and sometimes I’m just happily playing and running and then BAM. 

I’m hit with a hyperventilation attack. 

Luckily, this isn’t something that happens to me too often. I think in the last two years of basketball it’s happened only four times. The coaches who have been trying to figure it out came to a conclusion the third time it happened. Sometimes when I’m playing, I forget to inhale. I get so distracted with the game and pushing myself to keep going that I take in very small breaths and then exhale a lot. 

It took me a bit of time to get a grip on the fact that when I’m submersed in a game I fail to remind myself to do the usual bodily function of forgetting to breathe. I mean, every human does it. How could I possibly forget?

Yesterday when I was mulling this over in my mind, I thought of those kick-butt heroine characters like Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles, Katniss from the Hunger Games and people like Percy and Annabeth from Percy Jackson. Do any of them forget to breathe as well? They often end up fighting against the whole world, or government systems and monsters that are hard to comprehend. It can’t be easy… and I know that in books they face their times of doubt. But when they are needed to be fighting, or needed in that exact moment to stand and attack – they never fail. I’m in the middle of a game and I can’t keep myself together. Why is it that none of these heros and heroines never have a panic attack? Throw a tantrum? Decide that they want to give up when they’re so close?

I know the answer is obviously because if they did that we wouldn’t have a good book. But maybe I would like a book better if there was a more realistic moment of doubt in a character at a critical moment. Maybe I just want them to take a step back and look at life and appreciate what they do have before they go and change everything. I want the main character to take their time. 

But maybe it would be better yet if it was us who took our time. Main characters can do this – to a certain extent, yes – but I wouldn’t want them doing that to compromise the fun of the book as well. It’d be better yet if it was something that we did. How about all of us take a step back and say that it’s okay to stress and panic a little? I think these day we have this idea that stressing is an entirely negative thing. In the end, because we’re trying to suppress the stress, it either grows in size or bubbles out in short (or one massive) attack. Why do we do that to ourselves?

Another thing that we can try and work on is slowing down from time to time, breathing, and appreciating what we have. Sure, it’s easy enough to think of things we don’t have. But we also have so much. Looking at that can sometimes make the world a more beautiful place. It’s the little things… 

Olivia’s Question: What makes you nervous? What is a little thing in life that you forget to appreciate sometimes?

Olivia-Savannah x



32 thoughts on “Olivia’s Catastrophe ~ Forgetting to Breathe”

  • You brought up a great point – there are quite a few "touchy" topics that are essentially avoided altogether in popular literature. Some of the fascination and admiration for literary characters may stem from their apparent lack of panic attacks, tantrums, etc. Perhaps we look for these flawless figures to emanate because they don't react the way we would when faced with extraordinary circumstances. Great post – definitely thought-provoking!

  • Great advice. I know what you mean about those heroines who never seem to doubt themselves or struggle. Although I feel Katniss struggled a lot with PTSD and panic attacks, so she always felt like a much more realistic heroine to me. Definitely feel more of these characters should have more moments of doubt and fear… I definitely would haha

  • I do get what you mean, I'm actually a very nervous person and a little anxious, and it's definitely not easy.

    And about the characters, I'm currently reading A Court of Mist and Fury, and the heroine is so strong and amazing!! But she does have her moments of wanting to give up and let everything go to hell lol. I'm really loving this character πŸ™‚
    Amazing post Olivia, I always enjoy it when you talk about topics like this! Have a great week!!

    Lipstick and Mocha

  • Oh, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this (even if it's good they've worked out what's happening!); I can't imagine how awful/scary it would be for that to happen to you. It sounds really frightening!

    You make a really interesting point, though, with the fact characters- heroes/heroines/mcs- can deal with so many awful things and they just do it, and they hardly seem to think of it. I agree with Andreea, above, since I know Kastniss has a hard time making choices in the Games and out of them, when things get really intense, and she also suffers as a reaction of what she goes through, which is so realistic. Her PTSD is, I think, a really important part of the books, because it showed just how shattered what she went through left her, and it's real. You go through horrors and they leave marks, and her marks were really visible.

    Such a thought provoking post. Thanks for sharing! x

    • It can be, but I'm learning to cope with it (and hopefully avoid it happening as well) which is good for me. Actually, you're right about Katniss. Her events do reach out to her a lot emotionally and probably most than any of the other characters I've seen. I think we need more characters like her!

  • I've got to say that I've had a couple of months when all I want to do was bury myself underneath my blanket. Never see the light of day if only to forget how I've made a mess of my life. But I have a husband and two kids who depend on me, so I can't afford to give up.

    I'm glad you're finding a new perspective, Olivia.

  • I have to tel myself o breathe whenever my sister isn't feeling well. It scares me every time. She is sick right now, and I do not want her back in the hospital for weeks at a time.

  • This is a great post, Olivia.

    I read the Hunger Games long time ago, but I am pretty sure Katniss does have some moments when she panics – and I don't think showing the heroine panicking is going to make the book less enjoyable. It would actually make them more real and more enjoyable because the character appears human yet they are able to do great things and it might give the readers hope.

    I have social anxiety, so during a lot of social interactions I tend to forget to appreciate them and just get nervous and worry in my head. But I got much better at handling those moments now and most of the times it comes back to taking a deep breath and being present.

    • I agree with you – it will probably make them more enjoyable due to the realism side of things. I like the sound of that.

      I'm glad to see you getting back and being able to recover from those moments <3 Breathing is vitally important – it helps keep us going, calming our nerves.

  • It's amazing how often that happens, Olivia. I think it has to do with something like the 'fight or flight' response. Of course it can happen in other situations too. I remember a ballet teacher who once told her class periodically to "remember to breathe".

  • Great advice. And breath deeply. I find myself breathing really shallowly. My ant-hero, Lizzie, does have these issues. I tried to write her as a realistic teenager, not the savior of an entire planet, so I think she does spend some time freaking out and forgetting basic stuff like breathing!

  • Fantastic post, Olivia. I suppose you're so intent on your game that your body doesn't take it's normal breathes. I'm glad your coaches figured out what it is. Nice transition into wondering what your book heroines do. πŸ™‚

  • PLEASE REMEMBER TO BREATHE! It's very important Liv!

    And yes, I'd love it if a hero/heroine had some sort of existential crisis, panic attack, and/or moment of extreme doubt, while trying to save the world/do whatever it is they're doing. It would just feel more realistic.

    What makes me nervous? *laughs hysterically* Oh, we'll leave *that* can of worms where it is I think! πŸ˜‰

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