When I’m feeling anxiety and it starts to permeate into physical symptoms like lightheadedness, heart palpitations, and a sense of numbness or tingling throughout my body, I panic. I realize that panicking is the fastest way to have a panic attack and does nothing to make me feel better but I panic nonetheless.
I panic because I’m genuinely worried that I am going to die. I’m sure this is familiar to anyone who has struggled with anxiety and panic attacks. It’s a hard feeling to explain. Especially since the physical symptoms can be so fluid where one minute it’s my heart racing and I hold my breath and then in the next minute I don’t feel palpitations or that I’m holding my breath but now I feel sweaty yet cold and my body is tingling.
The fluidity of symptoms can vary widely over the course of seconds, minutes, or even hours, as my body struggles to cope and regulate itself.
The perceived threat I am feeling is pervasive that my mind goes to worst-case scenario. And that is death. Or rather dying. My mind has gone to place where any twinge or tickle throughout my body suddenly becomes the ominous sign that the end is near.
It’s a paralyzingly feeling. And scary as hell. The odds of it being anything fatal are extremely low and, if present, most likely totally unrelated to my anxiety. It would be a coincidence that something truly tragic happens and due to an unrelated medical issue.
But it takes me over regardless. I know logically that it’s anxiety-related but try telling my emotional mind that. My emotional mind has gone from trying to cope with anxiety and possibly an impending panic attack to absolute terror that that twinge I just felt means I am moments from a heart attack or stroke or aneurysm. That is, if I’m not already having it.
As I await my tragic fate I try to hold it together but the anxiety is so crippling that I actually feel in my body like my head is going to fall off. I don’t know if it’s just the way my body responds to the anxiety, and I hope it’s not just me, but I actually become super-aware of my neck and shoulders and I wonder if they will be able to continue supporting my head. It’s an odd feeling to just think of your neck and wonder “is my head going to roll off?” Believe it or not this is a genuine fear for me when I’m feeling this anxiety. “Will my head just roll off my neck and into the ground?” Will this be how I die? So on top of my anxiety I now have to watch that my head doesn’t fall off.
One issue feeds the other until I am totally convinced that today I will die. It grips me so tight that sometimes I’m afraid to move or even breathe for fear I will push it over the threshold and into death myself.
I absolutely HATE this feeling and all the fear it causes. I try to talk myself down and do some tips to calm myself down, and sometimes it works. But sometimes I can’t seem to get a hold of my logical mind to be able to realize that I’m okay. Sometimes my logical mind is nowhere to be found and I am left in the unforgiving grip of my emotional mind who is currently freaking out.
For anyone who has gone through this and felt this I sympathize with you how tough and scary it is. I’m hoping that it’s not just me because that would really freak me out.
For now I just do my best to get through it and hope like hell I’m not dying.