What Is a Panic Attack? Just a Drop of Worry… – BandBackTogether BlogAThon

by D.J. Paris on June 1, 2013

Originally Posted at JulieDeNeen

You know how it starts…

You’re doing something like the dishes or the laundry. Everything is calm and normal. Nothing really floating in your head until…

A thought.

One thought.

It zooms right past the back of your eyes and it goes something like this, “What if…..?”

Maybe it’s about your daughter’s rash, an unpaid bill, a conversation that went awry.

Just one thought.

A seedling of doubt.

Panic Attack

A drop of worry.

In…and out…

It doesn’t take long, but at the bottom of your toes you feel energy rushing up towards your head.

Your heart starts to beat a little faster.

You know this feeling and another thought comes into your head, “Oh no – I feel racy and…”

You don’t want to say the word panic. The word itself comes with sweaty hands and rapid breathing.

But you feel it.

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Adrenaline tickles your fingers.

You know there are only five more minutes before your body has a full flight or fight response.

You tell the thought to go away.

You take a few deep breaths.

You try to silence the rush of hormones running under your skin.

Just one thought.

A seedling of doubt.

A drop of worry.

Your body fails to respond to your commands and panic starts to rise. Your throat, your heart, your body rebels against all forms of reason and logic.

You are having a panic attack.

“Oh don’t worry!” friends say.

“What will be will be!” other’s reason.

“Take a chill pill!” still more people advise.

But the thought has already taken hold of you.

Panic about the panic only intensifies the concoction. “Why can’t I just let it go?”

“Why do I worry when all of these people don’t?”

The fear of being different only intensifies the panic.

You are alone.

No one understands.

You must endure the agony.

Just one thought.

A seedling of doubt.

A drop of worry.

~~~

If someone you love suffers from panic attacks, the worst thing you can do is to tell them, “Don’t worry about it!” If they could, they would.

Trust me, fear is torturous and painful.

If only logic and reason would work, the panic would have never happened in the first place!

Think of the scariest thing you can imagine, then apply it to the person who is panicking in front of you. Though their worries might seem trivial to you, that person feels as strongly as you might in a truly dangerous position.

Panic attacks are real.

They are not made up.

They are not some indication of a hyper-emotional human being.

Panic attacks happen when the fight or flight response is deployed. The situation may be catastrophic or not, but to the person in response, it doesn’t matter.

Panic itself feels dangerous and catastrophic.

Be with the person in it.

Help them get help.

Take it seriously.

~~~

Hi my name is Julie and I have panic attacks. Most of you know this, some may not. I’ve struggled with acute anxiety my entire life. Depression is a not-so-distant cousin to people who are anxious. My depression is triggered by anxiety. When I’m not anxious, I am not depressed.

Fear is the Achilles heel of my life. It squelches my passion, my joy, and my sense of adventure. As a clinical psychology major in college, I understood the mechanisms of panic and anxiety, but still was at a loss to deal with my own.

Having children only made it worse. Now I had myself plus three more to worry about. I had pregnancy hormones, Post Partum Depression, and no sleep. My anxiety went to a new level.

Then I had a child who nearly died. The panic bumped up a notch…again. For months I woke up in the middle of the night in a full panic – even when there were no thoughts to accompany it.

Today, I am lucky. I have panic attacks much less frequently than I ever did.

But I still care deeply for those who suffer from such a debilitating illness. The writing above is my attempt to help those who DO NOT suffer with panic attacks, to understand better how it feels to be someone with acute anxiety.

I hope it gives you a glimpse of the terror, the feelings, and the emotions that come over those of us who struggle.

If you or someone you love struggles with panic attacks, I hope it helps. Please share it with them.

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