Panic attacks. The inner workings of them is strange. Our minds are freaking out yet we try our hardest to remain calm but our bodies don't seem to get the memo and instantly decides to set off some sort of alarm that alerts every single one of senses. Like a thousand neurotransmitters are buzzing around trying to find the one that's setting off the fire.
Having a panic attack is like being trapped in a cardboard box with a knife in your hand. You know you can cut the cardboard to release yourself, yet you become frozen. There's still a part of your brain that hasn't been overtaken by this panic, it's shouting at you to calm the effff down and to get yourself out of the box. You can't. You can't move. You can't breath. You can't feel anything but yet you feel everything.
This is my panic attack. Everyone's is different but this is a walk through of one that I remember as clear as day even though it was a almost two years ago and I'm lucky to have experienced few since this one.
Mine almost always start with some sort of tapping, be it my foot or my fingers against whatever they can touch. My foot is fiercely tapping the ground. My brain is starting to worry, but I can still hold it together. I can still, if I try my damn hardest, stop it going further. When I can't my head goes as light as a feather and I sweat like I've been running on a hot summers day. . Expect I haven't, I'm sat down begging my mind to stop. This time my rationality isn't calming me down. I'm becoming aware that people are noticing, increasing my worry. Why are they staring? Why is no one saying anything? Why is no one getting someone to help? Why, just why is this happening again? I feel trapped and suffocated, I need to get out of here. I run off from where I'm sitting, hoping an open space will make my brain return to zero. It doesn't.
I feel sick to the very core, I'm holding my stomach forcing it to keep in all the butterflies. I start hyperventilating. I start crying. I start going numb. My mind feels like it's being set on fire over and over again, I can't process a word that anyone is saying to me besides "Just breath, Jasmine!!". I'm trying, I promise you I'm trying, please don't shout. Please don't crowd me, I feel like I can barely grasp any of the oxygen around me. I think I'm going to faint. The fire is spreading, I feel it in my arms and legs. I feel it to the very tips of my fingers. Please make it stop, I beg. Everything feels so distant, I don't feel like I'm here anymore. Somewhere between hyperventilating and calming down, someone went to get my friend. This was my "safe friend", the one who knew exactly how to put out the fire in my brain. I can feel my breaths slowing down, and the sobs begin to calm. I don't have a clue what's just happened. My brain has gone to mush, I remember nothing after the first panicked inhale. I look into their eyes, I steady myself, I am okay, I am safe.
The hyperventilating lasted 10 minutes, one of my shortest ones but it's been the worst panic attack I've ever endured. I can start feeling my fingers and toes again, I grip onto the cup of water I've been handed along the way. Small, gentle sips. The fire is extinguishing and gradually I start to feel normal. Ironically, I've forgotten what I panicked over.
"You're so pathetic" is being whispered at the back of my mind. I feel it and 1,000 other emotions. Shame, guilt, embarrassment, anger and sadness to name a few. I begin profusely apologising, over and over again until my mind feels somewhat satisfied. I give myself 10 minutes to wallow in shame and self pity, then I get up, wipe my tears and carry on with the rest of my day as if nothing just happened. I don't talk about it with my friend, or anyone else. I bury it in the ground and go back to living my life.
Panic attacks happen out of the blue, knocking us down but most of us dust ourselves off and get back up. Imagine feeling like you're dying? Like you can't catch a single breath and 30 minutes later going back to "life". It takes immense strength to not only endure a panic attack but carry on living normally after one. I only realise that now, I judged myself more harshly than anyone else ever did. You may never understand one unless you've experienced one, but please understand that us panicking doesn't mean we're weak, losing it or pathetic. Every body is scared of something. Every body has triggers. Every body struggles with something.
Hold their hand and repeat that it will be okay. Not that they're okay because they aren't and even amidst their attack, they know they aren't. It will be okay. Don't tell them to just breath, we know that's what we're suppose to do but the whole hyperventilating thing makes it a little tricky and telling us to breath actually makes us stress more about the fact we aren't doing it properly. Be patient, be kind, be gentle. It passes but some times the only way to stop the panic attack is going through it ❤
Hey there, I'm Jasmine, your average 23 year old working in childcare and living in England. Maybe Tomorrow follows my journey living with mental health issues and multiple chronic health conditions, all whilst trying to have some fun along the way.
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