What a Panic Attack Feels Like

What a Panic Attack Feels Like

This is new for me, this speaking out about mental health and my experiences with the world as a person with mental illness. I decided to do this after reading so many articles on The Mighty and on blogs such as Char Nicole Lucas.

I didn’t realize that I was part of a community of people, both online and off, that struggle with the same things I do every day. Not just that, they are overcoming prejudices and smashing through stigma one post or article or tweet at a time.

Don’t get me wrong, there will still be plenty of makeup and beauty posts on this blog, but I feel compelled to speak out about something that I am intimately familiar with. I want to be a part of ending the silence and separatism that happens in the mental health community.

You can absolutely choose to skip these posts and just check in on my beauty articles. I won’t be offended. But these posts will be a window into my world, and hopefully can reach someone who needs support. To that person, I hope you find it here. I hope I help you in some small way.

Now, onto my first mental health article.

What It Feels Like to Have a Panic Attack

I have had anxiety problems my entire life – and I’m not kidding about that, I have since I was two or three. Panic attacks came a little later, when I was about 9. For reasons I won’t get into right now, I started having panic attacks over little things, like loading the dishwasher, or going to the store. I couldn’t handle any kind of pressure or stress. It didn’t even have to be a stressful situation, it need only be something that I perceived to be stressful.

When I was younger, the panic attacks felt different than they do now. They used to feel like I was hit suddenly with a fever and the flu in less than an instant, and I would just throw up. It didn’t matter where or when, I would be so sick, violently ill, all over the place. Disgusting and embarrassing.

As an adult, they feel completely different. Instead of fever, I get a cold sweat and a chills that sweep from my stomach out to my extremities. My head aches and  my stomach feels like it has a lump of lead stuffed in it. Every beat of my heart feels like a wet rag being rung out by a vice, slowly and painfully. My fingers and palms tingle with nervous energy. Sometimes I shake my hands to try to get the energy out of my body. If I don’t control my breathing, I hyperventilate.

I can’t focus my attention on anything except the negative feelings or thoughts racing through me. Terrible thoughts replay over and over in my mind, whether they are true or imagined or memories.

It’s so hard to get through each attack. It’s like the world around you spins out of control and you’re at the center of a hurricane, knowing that any moment you could be swept away into oblivion. It truly feels like I won’t live through it, like I will implode and the universe will be sucked into the black hole I leave behind.

Then it ends. It fades away. As quickly as it hit me, it leaves, and I am a wreck. Physically and mentally and emotionally exhausted. And yet, I have to go on with my day, move on with my life, and try to get as much done as I can before the next one hits. It’s an uphill battle every day.

There are a number of things that you can do to get through a panic attack (besides medications), and I would love to post more on those methods another time.

Are these kind of posts something you would like to see more of? What topics would you like to see regarding mental health? I’d love some feedback about this. Let me know in the comment section, please.

 

Love you all.

Tia

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