I have opinions. Wanna hear them?Anxiety
I was asked recently what an anxiety attack feels like. Why would someone want to know that? But okay. You asked.
Be somewhere random. Like a doorway. You there? Good. Now, there’s a roaring in your head like when you’re standing next to a waterfall and people have to yell to be heard. That sort of loud. Nope. You can’t cover your ears. Sorry.
Okay. The roaring is a sort of gushing white noise where you can’t hear voices. But you can. They’re inside your head saying all sorts of awful things about you. Like you’re worthless. You shouldn’t take up the space you’re in. The doorway would be better off without you. That sort of thing. Keep the white noise going. You can do it. The voices can be heard over the waterfall. It’ll be noisy. Keep it up. Now, right now, in this very moment, you’ll be utterly convinced the commentary from the people yelling over the waterfall noise is true. It is. You believe it. Keep it up. Waterfall noise, yelling people, words about how much you suck. You’re allowed to sit down if you want. Better, actually, if you do. You might like to rock back and forth a little. It doesn’t do anything but seems to disperse the waterfall noise to other parts of your brain.
Right. Now. Bend your knees. Sorry. That’s going to hurt. Grip your shins or knees or some type of bone because bones are strong enough. Waterfall noise, screaming people, awful words about how much you suck. Keep it up. You can do it. You’re gripping your shins and you won’t be able to let go until the anxiety attack finishes. So settle in for maybe an hour. Gushing loud waterfall noise, people yelling awful things that you believe, gripping your body. People—real ones—might find you. You can’t hear them. Don’t even try. There’s too much noise in your head. They might try to release your fingers. That’ll hurt so much. Hopefully they’ll stop.
Start some shallow breathing. Add it to the loud, loud, loud white noise, mean people yelling things you believe, teeny rocking, gripping your body so it doesn’t float away on the words of the mean people. Shallow breathing makes you light-headed. Prepare yourself for the little dots in your vision. Check that your shallow breathing is through your clenched teeth. You’ll be fine. It only makes a little bit of spit.
So, the loud, loud, loud white noise, mean people yelling things you believe, teeny rocking, gripping your body so it doesn’t float away on the words of the mean people, shallow breathing through your teeth. Got that? Right. Time for your eyeballs. They can’t move. Well, they do, but of their own accord. They shake. Those people helping but not helping? You can’t see them. You can see the doorframe that’s across the way.
Now, you can make words through your teeth, and the spit, and the loud, loud, loud white noise, the mean people yelling things you believe, teeny rocking, and your frozen shaking eyes, and your hands gripping your body so it doesn’t float away on the words of the mean people. They are only single words, and some words are hard to say because of your clenched teeth. Just go for the easiest word which is usually a verb. But those people who are still trying to undo your fingers won’t understand your verbs.
Oh! Heartbeat. It’s time for that. There are words through your teeth, and the spit, and the loud, loud, loud white noise, the mean people yelling things you believe, teeny rocking, and your frozen shaking eyes, and your hands gripping your body so it doesn’t float away on the words of the mean people. And your much-too-loud heartbeat which sits in your ears like bookends to the roaring in your head. The mean people’s words slide in between each beat.
And then, suddenly, maybe an hour, maybe less, there’s no time stamp, you’ll suck in some spit. That’s a good thing. Then, and only then, will you breathe like a person coming up for air from three hundreds metres below sea level. Your eyeballs are next. They can move. Properly. It’s amazing. Keep breathing. That’s it. Those helpful people will try to pull your hands off your legs, and suddenly they can. Some even stumble back with the force. The noise will go slowly; it will feel very much like cotton wool being gradually removed from your ears, one fluffy bit at a time. The voices stay a while. Not loud, but there. You’ll need someone to tell you that those voices are mean and horrible and wrong and…well, you’ll need someone.
Okay. Relax your legs. That’ll hurt. Sorry. Blink a lot. Breathe. You’ll need to check that you are breathing. Sometimes it’s hard to know. You’ll develop a headache in about ten minutes. It’s kind of an adrenalin headache, but it’s not. But it’s a headache. Take some pills. Oh! You’ll be sleepy. Anxiety attacks are exhausting.
The next day or maybe later on today, you’ll have what feels like a hangover, without the fun of alcohol, so lots of water, okay?