For me, this is how it is.

There are so many times that people with anxiety hear:

there’s nothing to be scared of

or

can’t you just keep doing it and eventually you won’t feel scared anymore?

And of course the ones saying these things are completely right: there is nothing to be scared of, and the more times I face my fears, the less I will fear them.

But unless you have an anxiety disorder yourself you have absolutely no idea how difficult it can be, and how little your rational thinking comes into play when panic strikes.

A panic attack is not the feeling of being nervous.

It’s not butterflies in your stomach and feeling a little bit sick – much like the average person before making a speech or going on a first date.

It’s so much more terrifying and crippling than that.

For me, this is how it is.

sf

At first I feel like the world is spinning, like you know those nights where you’ve had way too much to drink and you can’t focus; your head hits the pillow but everything keeps going round and round, making you feel unbelievably sick.

And then my heart starts beating like it’s trying to escape my chest. Over and over again, each beat harder and faster than the one before. AndΒ somehow my heart ends up in my head, beating its way through my skull as well.

It keeps going and going and going and everything is still spinning and spinning and spinning.

My mouth then goes dry to the point in which I can’t swallow. This is where I always lose it and feel an excruciating need to escape. My natural reflexes stop functioning and it feels as though I can’t breathe.

Feeling as though you can’t breathe isn’t one of those feelings you get used to. I know it’s a trick. I know I can breathe. But when you feel as though you can’t, it’s so difficult to ignore it and think rationally.

I know it can’t hurt me. I honestly do know that. But no matter how many times you have a panic attack, they all feel just as bad as the last, and they never become less scary.

The level of fear overcomes me so much that I feel like I’m floating. You know like in one of those films where someone dies and floats across the room to heaven – or wherever else they’re going.

My legs have just about as much feeling as a person with paralysis in that moment; I’m moving – or running – but I have no idea how. I can’t feel it.

All I can feel is the strongest urge I’ve ever felt, pulling me away from wherever I am. Wanting me to leave and not feel like I’m dying anymore.

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99 thoughts on “For me, this is how it is.

  1. Kriswasp says:

    I’ve not had one that bad since February, although I actually was sick. I was in a classroom, terrified, and I did all I could to stop the children I was teaching from seeing me worked up. I was on placement and luckily I didn’t have to go back to that school…but I’m so terrified of it happening again

    Like

  2. avsweb says:

    I hate elevators! If I have to take one & it jolts, then I’m a mess. Last year, I had an open MRI & I was only in partial way, when I started feeling like you describe in your post. The nurse said, she would tape me down, if I did not calm down. I felt as though I was going to black out. No one seems to understand, when I have these episodes. You described it perfectly in your post.

    Like

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      Thank you. It’s horrible isn’t it. I hope you’re able to control it better soon. Unfortunately elevators are a no-go for me as well. And actually I think you’d be surprised how many people don’t like MRIs – It’s a wonder they haven’t invented something better yet!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. tracihalpin says:

    Wow Lauren that sounds intense and scary. I know what you mean about rational and emotional thoughts. It feels so confusing. When I used to have panic attacks I felt the need to escape. I would get in my car in the middle of the night and listen to music. I think it helped bc I removed myself from the situation. But you’re right nobody gets it unless they live with it. Without my antianxiety meds I would be a mess.
    And I still have to use techniques to reign it in
    I’m sending you healing energy!
    Traci

    Like

      • tracihalpin says:

        I wish you luck. I refused meds for a long time. The Dr kept saying it could help me, so I finally did it and it was like wow I feel better! Everyone is different and sometimes it takes time to find the right one and get it right. My very first antidepressant knocked me out. The second one saved me. Good luck and don’t accept anything less then the best treatment.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Aidan not Aiden says:

    This is a great post. It’s really important that people hear (or read) descriptors about how panic attacks feel to those having them. I also want to thank you for specifying that this is how it is FOR YOU. Too often, people describe panic attacks as one-size-fits-all when in reality what symptoms and the intensity of them can vary from person to person, and situation to situation.

    You do such a great job raising awareness about these things. Here’s to one step at a time. ❀

    Liked by 2 people

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      Thank you – I really appreciate it. And yes, I wanted to make sure that I specified this was just my experience of them, because as you say different people experience different symptoms entirely!

      Like

  5. Chloe says:

    Yes, all of this. It’s so hard for people who have never had one to understand that it’s not just something little that you can just get over. They’re absolutely soul crushing and terrifying, like utter primal fear.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Crystal Ann says:

    Thank you for sharing, Lauren. I have had panic attacks before (thankfully, not a major one in some time), and they are horrible. But you’re right, anxiety is very much misunderstood. I feel alone in it so often. But I’m grateful for people like you who are willing to share exactly what they’re going through so that: 1) people who struggle with the same thing will feel a little less alone, and 2) people who don’t struggle with the same thing will get at least a small glimpse into our world. Thanks again.

    Like

  7. fromthedarkintothesunshine42 says:

    I so no that feeling yesterday I had one a feeling like was gonna have a heart attack I’m in new house new area miles from hospital alone and no one that understands. ..you described it so well. .
    I don’t have a answers but I do know hearing others say this helps me feel less alone some what!
    Iv noticed recently with all i went through physical work helps it really releases something different in one and anxiety subsides slowly over time ..only problem when you stop it’s back crappy for us it’s a constant reminder to run!

    Sending love lisa

    Like

  8. Elizabeth says:

    Panic attacks are such a horrible feeling, and I’ve noticed they can strike at what seem to be the most unlikely times. You did an excellent job describing what they can be like. Sharing this can help people who haven’t experienced panic attacks gain a better understanding of them which is very helpful. Good work πŸ™‚

    Like

  9. jusmas70 says:

    I personally would like to thank you Lauren, for your strength in publishing such an accurate but ultimately personal description and for hopefully making people aware of how dibilitating it can be to suffer these attacks.
    More than well done! πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The Anxious Dragon says:

    People don’t understand the randomness of my anxiety. Why can I do something one week, and not the following week. I wish I had the answer to that one.

    Like

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      That’s difficult – but at least it prevents you from avoiding particular situations where you always panic (positive spin!). Is it when you’re feeling a particular way within yourself? Depressed, angry, or when other things are going on in your life such as arguments? I guess the best thing for you to do would be to write down every time you have a panic attack and describe what you did that day and how your mood was before it. You may find a common link!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Anxious Dragon says:

        I think a lot of it does depend on my mental and physical health on any given day. Thats a good positive way of looking at it x

        Liked by 1 person

  11. therabbitholez says:

    Really good description, the first time I had a panic attack I felt as the the world had tilted on it’s axis and suddenly it was like my body didn’t belong to me and I was being pulled downwards, my heart racing, my throat closed up, I felt like I was dying.

    another aspect that is not understood is just how terrified you are, your not in control, and makes you fearful of leaving the house as you never know when it might happen.

    Like

  12. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for describing your experience. It is difficult for others to know what it feels like if they have never experienced it. I hope yours become less frequent. Hugs!

    Like

  13. celtics345 says:

    I agree unless they go through anxiety they will never know what is like. Glad you started this blog so other anxiety sufferers can support each other. I hope you feel better real soon. I have anxiety and its a battle you don’t win every day.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. shaunk84 says:

    This was an outstanding post. It’s so hard to describe to someone else about what a panic attack really feels like, but you just did it amazingly. Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to understand, and you are completely right about that. Here’s to hoping it becomes less frequent for you as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. jennymarie4 says:

    Lauren, you described a panic attack perfectly! I’ve had all those symptoms. I’ve often said, logic does not work during a panic attack. You know you’re in a safe place, not really threatened, but you certainly feel threatened. It was really hard for my husband to understand my panic symptoms. He’s never had a panic attack. When our daughter started to have them, he finally understood how devastating they are. But it’s so hard to explain how terrifying they are, to someone who’s never experienced it.

    Like

    • bylaurenhayley says:

      It is. Even writing down exactly what happens like this unfortunately probably isn’t enough. It resonates with those that have had one, but for those that haven’t those symptoms are so difficult to comprehend that it still doesn’t make sense!

      Liked by 1 person

      • jennymarie4 says:

        But how you explained it is very clear. It’s just that someone who hasn’t experienced it would say, “that sounds horrible!” But still wouldn’t truly understand. I think if my husband, or someone who hasn’t had a panic attack, read what you wrote, they’d say, “I get this more. I understand it better now.” And that’s great progress! πŸ™‚

        Like

  16. ambivalencegirl says:

    And that is SO what anxiety is like. It’s like you are dying but yet having the insight you aren’t and feeling crazy and scared and then being uncertain because it is very real and it’s tiring to fake it and that need to just shut down and you have no control and it just stinks.

    Like

  17. bazzabaz says:

    A rather graphic but intensely accurate account of a panic attack and how they cripple. Been there far too many times and still keep experiencing them no matter how hard I try to resist them.

    Like

  18. chellem90 says:

    Thank you for writing such an honest and open post!
    Hopefully reading posts like this will make people who don’t suffer from anxiety that it’s not as easy as ‘Everyone gets nervous, just get on with it’
    thank you again for such a brave post xx

    Like

  19. OnceUponAMommysTime says:

    I have recently admitted and accepted I cannot control my anxiety on my own and have started the process of getting real help and am keeping my fingers crossed. Anxiety is something that is so hard to understand for loved ones if they have not experienced it first hand and that can be frustrating. Good luck and I can only hope it gets better πŸ™‚

    Like

  20. jrenee says:

    I completely understand and you described the same type panic attacks I have. I’ve found that being misunderstood is the most frustrating part of it all. So many friends and family think they understand but I can’t explain it enough times our enough ways for them to get it. I’m sorry that so many off us have to deal with this, but it site is comforting to know there are others I can relate to. Thanks! jrenee

    Like

  21. rachelgriffin22 says:

    Hey girl! Totally relate to this (unfortunately) I feel like I can’t get a full breath. I went to the ER the first one and of course they were like “you’re fine!” Sending healing, warm thoughts! Xo

    Like

  22. Gary McCormack says:

    Reblogged this on Keep Calm: and commented:
    This is an on-point description.
    “I know it can’t hurt me. I honestly do know that. But no matter how many times you have a panic attack, they all feel just as bad as the last, and they never become less scary.”

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Not So Cold says:

    YES! I always feel insecure, so I try to hide or downplay my panic attacks (even though I know this is terribly unfair and unhealthy for myself). I have so much respect for your ability to endure this and share your experience so honestly. Thank you for giving a voice to such a deeply intense experience.

    Like

  24. blushingdame says:

    Lauren, wow you hit the nail on the head for me. I still don’t know if what I have is officially anxiety or panic but that is what doctors are steering me to believe and quite frankly, I think I’m beginning to accept it. Especially after reading what it’s like for you because that is almost identical to what happens to me! It always hits me by surprise and I can’t explain why these physical symptoms come on. Thank you for sharing this. You’ve inspired me to post my own experience now too in hopes it will help someone at least relate to it.

    Like

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