Just a moment ago I skimmed an article about panic attacks. I guess I’ve never given a lot of thought to what other people think of them but it struck me as funny that some people think it means being dramatic. Really? So…when I’ve told someone along the way that I’ve had a panic attack they thought I had an emotional fit. Haha. Seriously people.
I’m sure panic attack symptoms vary but I will share what one of my first ones were like. I have a little more control of them now and medicine to help if it gets out of control, so they’re not nearly as scary.
Ok so here it is. Out of nowhere something weird happens in my body, like I feel a weird sensation in my head or I feel my heart do something not normal. Usually following that something happens, that I’d like to describe as cold water being poured from the back of my head and down my back to my feet. By the time that happens my fingers and toes start tingling, like that pins and needles feeling. Suddenly I realize I can’t take a deep breath or yawn. My mouth gets really dry and no amount of water makes it feel better but I usually keep drinking. Everything inside my body gets really loud and my internal dialogue gets speedy and full of what ifs. Everything inside is loud. I feel like I’m dying and like there’s an invisible belt tightening one notch at a time. If I’m around other people all they’d notice is that I’ve become quiet….really quiet. I usually can’t hear (I mean I can but I’m so focus on the loudness inside me that I don’t hear) anything anyone else is saying and I don’t want to. I want to escape but I don’t want to be alone. I want to ask for help but I don’t want to talk about it so I don’t. The lights seem weird and make me uncomfortable. I want to be cold. I want to be outside. I want to pace but I want to be still too. I just want it to end. I try to find a mint to make myself feel like I can breathe better. I want it to end.
When it is finally over I still don’t relax completely. The fear of another one coming terrifies me. It controls me. It happens without reason or circumstance. It isn’t a choice.
It’s exhausting and draining and until you figure out what it is, you think you’re dying. Like really dying. You fear it constantly when you’re anywhere when they first start happening. They take life away from you.
I had my first one at age 20. I pushed down a lot of things about four years prior and tried to move forward without healing. I honestly feel like they happen when you don’t deal with bad things that have happened to you. When you push down emotions. Your body kind of finds a way to make you deal. All that you push down comes ragging to the surface at the most inconvenient times.
One that really stands out to me was during a first date. The guy was really nice and seemed to like me a lot. I had a bad breakup a few months prior and his interest in me made me feel good again. We went out to dinner and to a movie and I couldn’t breathe. I had to leave the theater. I literally got up during this first date in a movie theater without reason and walked out. He came out to find me sitting in the lobby. I was trying to decide if I should just walk out. I couldn’t talk to him to explain. I just tried to smile and finally got out that I wasn’t feeling well. He took me home and I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. Strangely he called again and wanted to go out. I couldn’t. He was a panic attack to me now. He tried for a while longer until I just stopped answering or returning his calls (not nice I know). I can’t believe he even wanted to see me again. I’m sure I seemed like a freak. I wonder what happened to him. Obviously he was a good guy.
Anyway, I just wanted to explain what a panic attack was to me. Not a drama filled fit but actually an uncontrollable internal breakdown…not really but it’s the best I can do.