There’s noise all around me. The TV is humming it’s daily tune, ceasing to drown out reality. I’m alone. A sudden wave of fear flutters up inside me. My thoughts plod through my head like a thousand runners vying for the top spot.
“I need my meds,” my mind thinks.
“Not a chance,” says the rest of my body.
“You can do it, get up!” my mind pleads.
“I can’t,” says my body. “Frozen. Can’t move. Don’t MOVE!”
Sound continues on the outside, silence creeps in on the inside. Cold hard silence. Fear.
The runners are frozen in time but my heart takes on their energy. My mind and body collide and my lungs can’t catch up with the breath within. I gasp for oxygen. My thoughts no longer make any sense. They are dark. Scrambled.
Now my breathing is animated; arrhythmic and chaotic. I try to catch onto a thought and it escapes me. They flood through my mind but I can’t grasp them fast enough. They start to piece together for a moment but they aren’t matching up quite right. It doesn’t matter, I finally have a thought to focus on…but it’s a thought that invokes more fear, more dread…like a gun in the face and a trigger finger that, in slow motion, keeps getting more and more tense. All sense of time and place is lost. My body is a rock, curled up on itself and frozen in time.
GET ME OUT OF HERE!
Like a gigantic ocean wave washing over a small child, you don’t know which way is up but you need to breathe, you need to think. Or not think. Or…find the ocean floor to rest your heavy body or the open sky to finally catch your breath.
All of a sudden I hear myself. Sobbing. Gasping for air. Choking on snot and tears.
“God, where are you? I need you!” my heart cries.
“He’s far from here. Far far away from here,” my thoughts respond.
“He’s not here,” my mind argues with itself. “He’s right here beside me. Right here with me.”
Sanity grabs hold of me.
My Father God holds me in His arms like He’s done my whole life. He comforts me.
“There, there, now child,” he whispers. “There’s nothing to fear. I’m here.”
Weeping, my body releases it’s grip on fear and I stretch my body out, moving one limb at a time until I’m sure I exist.
As my muscles relax, I finally will myself from the couch and grab a box of kleenex and my anti-anxiety medicine. I swallow the tiny pill and, still weeping, head up to my bed. Burrowing under the covers like a wounded animal, I try to sleep. I’m exhausted.
When I first started having anxiety attacks, I didn’t even know what was happening to me. Once I finally got diagnosed about ten years later, they became a little more manageable simply because I knew what I was dealing with. Please know, I can not overcome them on my own. Through the help of a counselor and medication, I have developed some coping mechanisms to help me get through the storm of an attack safely. One of the most important elements in my coping, is learning how to identify the early symptoms of an upcoming attack and reaching out for help immediately. Thankfully, my husband has learned how to talk me through them in a gentle and patient way. If I could give you two key pointers for dealing well with a panic attack, I would tell you:
- Have at least one family members or friends who you can reach out to when you feel an attack coming on who are willing to learn how to be gentle and patient as you walk through the attack and support you afterwards.
- Seek professional help. Anxiety is an illness and there are counselors trained to help you cope and medication to help you get over the hardest moments.
If you need help figuring out a good next step, please reach out to me.