I sit shaking, the breath slowly contracts out of my lungs. I open my mouth wide, gasping for what seems to be my last breath. I sit shaking holding my head, the pressure is killing me and I’ve losts any hope of controlling it this time. I look for a quick solution and find nothing but my own thoughts screaming for an escape and relief from this torment. My chest slowly seizes on me, and I am flooded with more fear. Being completely convinced that this time there is something very seriously wrong with me I call out to a God that I don’t fully understand and pray for some relief this tidal wave of panic. I quickly assess my current location in regards to the nearest hospital or clinic, presuming an emenient death is nearly upon me.
“Stop it, nothing is wrong with you. This is going to pass like all the other times, just breathe!” I gently try to convince myself that everything will be alright, and yet the overwhelming fear takes every ounce of my attention. The panic blasts through every muscle in my body and rigamortis sets in through my entire being. At this point I am totally convinced that today is my dying day. “But I can’t be going out like this, I have so many other dreams I need to fulfil before I pass, I’m such a failure”.
I desperately seek the release from bondage that anxiety has kept me in for years now that others walk through life with, but today clearly isn’t my day and my bitterness towards the world grows deeper. Holding on for dear life, I think my only solution is to call 911. Confusion and terror is all I feel now as my amygdala fires with precision, sending death strikes of adrenaline through my veins and the voice inside my head says “RUN… YOU NEED TO LEAVE”. With little chance of ever evading the culprit due to its very near and dear proximity I’m left spinning my wheels completely broken.
The reality is that I have been through a panic attack a hundred times before, and have yet to pass out or die from the mystifying experience and yet somehow that truth never seems to emotionally register with me. If factual analysis was all I needed to recover from panic attacks, I would have broken out of this mental jail a hundred times over by now. But for today, I remain stuck in the deep trenches of mental illness praying for some form of relief or cosmic shift in thinking.
They say anxiety arises from thoughts of the future, the problems is I struggle with those future experiences in the now and have yet to be able to fully compartmentalize myself that way. I’ve attempted to place myself in calm environments during an attack, but conflict always overpowers any serenity I try to muster up.
The brain not being able to decipher between real and perceived thoughts reacts in the present moment to imagined future stresses and it starts to get ugly fast for anxiety sufferers.
Many reference their anxiety attacks as, “coming out of nowhere”. But the reality is the body has been slowly responding to negative anticipation all along, gradually releasing stress hormones over and over. The stress hormones are being released as a self preservation mechanism due to the catastophy you have been brewing until, BOOM, the mind and body is taxed leaving you with raw panic. Hopeless thoughts and feelings bounce around the mind and sufferers struggle to see a light at the end of the tunnel. The short term memory shuts down and blood is spread strategically only to organs that are vital for survival. It is a battle I seek to win weekly, but my lack of surrender always leaves me distant from peace.
Then some time passes and the body returns to a balanced state and you feel completely defeated and begin to fear that next battle that could be later that day, week or month, dependant on the severity of the individual.
Millions of people in countries all around the world struggle in silence out of fear of judgement and stigma. They remain stuck in an agoraphobic state, or receive pharmaceutical sedatives to bring normacy to their days, but that is a far cry for a solution for living.
How Can You Help The Sufferer?
- Do Not tell them to calm down. They would have already simmered themselves if they were capable of doing so. Your reactionary solution will only cause more resistence and discomfort within.
- Tell them they are safe to express any scary thoughts they are carrying at the moment.
- Tell them you are there to support them in any way possible, even if that includes taking the individual to the emergency room.
- Do Not react with worry or concern about their safety. Anxiety sufferers will pick up on your energy.
- As a spectator to these brutal experiences know that the individual will be okay and try to use your own words of advice to remain clam. By you being present and non-reactive to their heightened internal pressure they will be more inclined to settle themselves more quickly.