There aren’t any symptoms. There aren’t any warnings. You just suddenly can’t breathe.
Something feels wrong.
You’re confused and angry that this is happening to you right now, but then again – there’s no right time for a panic attack.
It’s like someone flipped a switch inside of you that tells you how to function. You’re drowning inside your own body and nobody understands what’s happening.
“Sh*t. What do I do? Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t, sh*t.
Feels like an elephant is on my chest.
Sh*t, sh*t, sh*t.
I’m going to throw up.
I can’t get enough air.
Everyone’s looking at me. Can they hear my breathing?
Breathe… In and out.
This isn’t working. Sh*t.”
You feel like you’re never going to get enough space or enough air, no matter where you go or what you do.
People tell you silly things like “Just relax!” or “You’ll be okay” as if you hadn’t thought of these things already and you just needed someone to remind you. Of course you want to relax! But in this moment, your heart is beating faster than it should, and your mind is going places that you’d prefer it not.
You are separated from everyone around. Not physically, but on another level. They are there, and you are here. Your mind is the only thing that matters right now, and your mind is falling into a dark pit.
You wonder if other people have dealt with this too. Have they had inexplicable instances where they think they are disappearing and all hope is lost – for no reason at all?
You stop what you’re doing and try to take a few deep breaths. But the more you breathe in and out, the tighter your chest feels, the less oxygen seems to be making it to your body. The part of your brain trying to keep a rational hold on the situation screams out, “It’s just a panic attack. It’s going to pass. Stay calm and concentrate on your breathing. It will all be okay.”
But your natural response to feeling like you’re beginning to suffocate is to freak out, big time. You try not to pay attention to it at this point, but you can’t ignore the deep throbbing that’s echoing out from your chest, reverberating through your ears, drowning out almost completely the sounds of the outside world.
You feel like you might collapse. You feel like you might die.
“Can you die from a panic attack? No, of course not. Don’t assume the worst, Hunter.”
Yes, it’s going to get worse, but then it’s going to get better. You will make it through. It will pass. Your day will continue. Just breathe…