My first thought this morning was not “What shall I have for breakfast?” or “Why am I up so early?” or “Can I just stay in bed forever?”. No, this morning my first thought was more along the lines of “Oh my gosh… I’m dying.”
When I woke up, it felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest, making it practically impossible to breathe. My heart was beating fast. I had been sweating. I was on the verge of tears. I was shaking uncontrollably. I wished for death to just wash over me, because it felt as though it was taking it’s sweet time.
This wasn’t a heart attack or anything actually life threatening. Rather, it was a panic attack that had started in my sleep. With no trigger. No warning. I have no dreams that I remember.
I don’t have these too often, probably about five in the past six or seven years. Then again, I probably didn’t realize what they were until at least twelfth grade, which was three years ago.
I don’t just struggle with panic attacks at night, but often during the days as well. They’re not always what you think of when you think “panic attack”. You probably think rocking back and forth, crying, and having a full on meltdown. While yes, this can be the case depending on the person and the situation, this is not what it will always look like. For me sometimes, I just draw back from the crowd and have to stare at something and concentrate to steady my breathing. All senses become very aware and all noises, smells, and feelings become too much to deal with. Sometimes this ends with crying. Most, it ends with me becoming close enough to my normal state to be passable. I become irritable and melancholy until I can muster up the energy to keep up the appearance of what I usually am. Or I just shove those feelings in the back of my mind and take on the outside appearance of how everyone else is acting.
These are terrible. They will mess up your day. They can make you become overly sensitive, distract you, fog up your brain, and can physically drain you as well. When I have prolonged days of anxiety or even just one especially bad anxiety attack, I will often become very nauseous.
I like to think I’m better at coping with this now than I have been in the past. Anxiety and depression are good friends and the thoughts that they can convince you of can become very scary very quickly.
Please don’t come to the end of this mess of feelings and think that I’m here to give you advice. I have none. Anxiety makes me the most helpless I’ve ever felt. It feels like this barrier between me and God. A barrier between me and the world. Sometimes I feel like I’m trying to scream for help, but nothing will come out. I don’t know how. I’ve just gotten comfortable telling people the surface level of my issue. I make a joke about it and move on. I find it difficult to even ask God for help. When all I want is to be wild and free, to live without fear, I have a rock of anxiety that has settled deep in my heart and soul. I just want it to be gone.
I just want to breathe normally once more.