Have you ever had a panic attack?
People can experience them in different ways.
Sometimes, its like in the movies; your skin becomes on fire because every atom is beating on sensitive skin stretched too tight. People crowd around you, hoping to help.
Hoping, despite the crumbled screaming mess that once resembled a human being, everything is okay.
People who have never experienced a panic attack cannot begin to understand or imagine how it feels; and that is a good thing.
And if you ever see someone having a panic attack, you’re probably going to want to help. And you might feel bad, because the unfortunate reality is there is not much you can do to help.
You just have to be patient, staying close by and being supportive. You have to try and keep the crowds of people away because unfortunately if someone has a panic attack in public, a crowd is always an eventual contingency.
In a panic attack everything becomes too much; every kind of experience or existence you can imagine becomes oversensitive. It is the most horrible thing ever.
But sometimes, often, people don’t have panic attacks in the movies. Sometimes, we become so drowned in the sensations threatening us its a different loss of autonomy all together; we seem to switch off.
We ‘wake up’ to find ourselves having spent who knows how long staring into space.
Seconds for us, eternity for friends or family.
Sometimes we know when an attack is building; we know what might trigger us. But often, it comes from nowhere.
It just bursts from within us, and completely destroys us from nowhere within.
Imagine having a panic attack when you least expect it; losing control or recognition of everything around you in the click of your fingers or blink of an eye.
Imagine having one in your sleep.
Its the middle of winter, but I always wear shorts and singlets to bed because so often I will wake in sweats and chills from attacks in my sleep.
Sometimes, its in those few seconds when you first wake up and everything is muted and heavy. When everything is still switching on, and you still don’t quite have full bodily control yet.
In those moments you can feel your muscles jump under skin stretch so tight its like every pore is pulled so wide thousands of ants are crawling in and out of your body and you can’t move and all you can do is feel every second of it and do nothing.
Or you are so used to it, you just make a routine of it.
You wake drenched in sweat – so drenched you have to shower, dry and change your clothes because the fabric is glued to you. Or you wake, boiling hot but shaking like its freezing.
Sometimes your cat – who is kind of a dopey shit – nudges you awake because your twitching disrupted his sleep.
Of course, then he demands food he won’t eat.
That is unfortunately the stark reality of living with anxiety.
Everyone experiences anxiety – just like everyone experiences depression – at stages in their lives. But living with these diseases is different; there’s often no trigger – its just your body being a fucking asshole and turning on you.
And no matter how many people try to tell you that you are in control of your own mind, you know its not true.
And a very large part of you is terrified it never will be true.
Especially on those cold winter nights when you wake drenched in sweat, dressed in shorts and singlets.