Those struggling with mental illness DO NOT JUST WANT TO BE HEARD. There is a want and a need to be listened to. There is a difference. It is appalling how little is known about anxiety and the associated “attacks” or physical ramifications of it.
An anxiety attack. One of the most terrifying physical and psychological manifestations that can occur. When those like me who struggle say our anxiety is high and we’re horrified of an attack occurring, this is what we mean… This is how it CAN be experienced.
For me: It starts out with slight nervousness. A knot in my stomach. I have to clear my throat. Then comes the tingly sensation all over my body. My limbs refuse to move. Then it hits. I am slammed to the floor. It’s crippling. And it takes over.
I CAN’T RUN. Everything within seeks escape from this assault – but, there is no such thing. It’s a trap. The walls close in. The air grows thinner and thinner. The paralysis is temporary – but, in that moment, it’s never ending.
I CAN’T BREATHE. I forget how. Hyperventilation becomes my meager attempt at respiration. My chest tightens. The capacity of my lungs seems to decrease. My heart pounds erratically to the rhythm of overwhelming terror. Dizziness comes first. Then nausea.
I CAN’T SPEAK. On the inside, I’m screaming for mercy, for prayer, for help, for some kind of relief. My jaw is clenched shut. My throat unable to produce speech. The utterances that make it out are feeble stutters and cries.
I CAN’T REGAIN CONTROL. I’m frustrated. Every muscle now becomes rigid yet spastic – moving or rather twitching on its own accord. My body is not submissive to my control.
I CAN’T LOCATE THE TRIGGER. I don’t know why this is happening. AGAIN.
I CAN’T CALM DOWN. I tried the “grounding” technique I’ve read all about in textbooks. I tried to harness my senses. I tried to hone in on the tangible. It failed.
I CAN’T STOP. So, I give in to it. I’ll let it run its course. It has won. I CAN’T STOP. It keeps happening. I CAN’T STOP. The most horrifying ten to Thirty minutes possible whenever they choose to appear.
THAT IS A PANIC ATTACK. And it is only one facet of many mental illnesses.
I hope you understand a little bit better now. It is no exaggeration. It is horrifying. You may not understand firsthand – but, you can certainly try to understand. That is all anyone could ever ask.