An insider’s perspective on Panic Attacks

CIHS upperclassman, Contributing Writer

Panic attacks. They are often portrayed as an act of hyperventilating, by a person who is so overwhelmed that they can not even think properly. Don’t get me wrong, that can be what they’re like but it can also be something else entirely.

Panic attacks can be sudden or they can build up over a period of time. They can be hyperventilating in a corner or simply being locked in a body that feels like its losing control but not actually being able to move. Panic attacks can be any number of things because no one has the exact same panic attacks as another person. Just as people worry differently they panic differently as well.

My panic attacks are sudden, most of the time, and when they happen it takes a while for me to calm down. They start with my vision slowly draining of color, then the trembling starts. My hands shake so bad I can barely make a fist and my leg goes up and down faster than a horses legs in a race. After the shakes start one of two things happen. I start to hyperventilate or I lose all sense of control, even if only in my mind.

When the former happens I feel a weight on my chest, like someones sitting on it. Then every breath feels like I’m breathing in needles, it hurts but I can’t slow it down. I’m hyperventilating because of the panic but I can’t form a coherent thought long enough to think of why I’m panicking in the first place. There are tricks, of course, that you can still use to calm down, or get out of that panic zone; head between knees, counting your breaths, five senses, etc. But that’s the better of the two options.

The latter is, by far one of, the worst sensations that I have ever felt. The trembling doesn’t stop, but nothing else changes on the surface. My body stays still, my breathing normal, no one can tell that anything is wrong. Then my mind starts going a mile a minute, different scenarios or problems that could happen that had never crossed my mind before. I have no control over what my body is doing and I can’t seem to stop the flow of thoughts that race through my head. No tricks, no tools, all I can do is sit there until the thoughts slow or my body feels like its back in my control. I’ve found one thing that helps when in a panic attack like this; human contact. It shocks my system so much that it allows a break in thoughts where you can gain control; the shock is really just a burst of fear.

Anxiety is becoming more and more common these days in teenagers and young adults. Anxiety in school is one of the worst feelings ever. Walking down the hall you feel all the eyes on you even if there not there. I’m constantly wondering and worrying if I’m messing up or if I’m angering something.

Due to all these things I come across as a girl with lowered self esteem. Which isn’t wrong; it’s a repercussion of the anxiety. People tend to not notice me in hallways or in classrooms unless they’re forced to. Which, honestly, is fine with me because it means less attention for my brain to over analyze every part of every interaction.

Some days the anxiety gets so bad I can barely force myself out of my bed because my brain is going over EVERY SINGLE THING that could possibly go wrong that day for anyone I care about. Going to school is terrifying because I won’t be there to help my loved ones if they need it.

Now, you’re probably thinking this is not at all rational, and your right. Logically I know that there probably won’t be a freak accident where my brother-in-law is smushed or that my sister probably won’t get kidnapped while at college. I know all these things and yet the anxious and over-analyzing part of my brain won’t, can’t, let it go.