One thing I should have never listened to when I was going through a time of figuring out my anxiety was everyone's opinions about not having apparent anxiety attacks. I was convinced that my anxiety was not a problem because I was not overtly freaking out in front of everyone 24/7. Now that I know myself more, my attacks happen more often than I like and are hardly ever obvious.
When I have anxiety attacks, I do not always become dizzy or have shortness of breath. My attacks are feelings of irritability, hypersensitivity, zoning out and becoming quiet. I try my best to control it but I never want to jump out of my skin more. For instance, someone I love and respect might be talking to me about something important to them and anxiety jumps in. I start apologizing for seeming uninterested, because that is not the case, and for being silent. Although they always seem to think I am fine, tell me not to worry, and keep on telling me their story, I just want to scream. Not because of the situation, but because anxiety is so restricting.
Anxiety takes a hold of my thoughts and throat, I cannot speak up or think straight. My anxiety attacks are paralyzing.
I can be sitting in class, grocery shopping, going on a date, hanging out with friends, or just being alone. When anxiety sets in, I do not want to be in my skin. I am irritated by everything around me and I want none of it to be what it is in that moment. I want it all to stop. Stop looking at me, stop talking, stop breathing, stop taking the form of what it currently is, and stop wanting more from me than I can give in that moment. I want to scream, "JUST STOP." I want everything around me to forget that I exist.
When this happens it is not obvious to anyone around me, but me. Someone might ask, "are you okay?" or "Is everything alright?" But yeah. How do you tell someone that you want to run away from yourself in that moment? Especially without them taking it personally. I get silent, irritable, and often hypersensitive for, what it looks like, no reason. I shut down and do not feel myself. For weeks on end, I feel a sense of depersonalization. During this period, I do not feel like I really exist but that I am trapped in my body. Before I realized that my attacks are silent, I was conditioning myself to think that my anxiety attacks were not real because they were not apparent, but they are real. They feel very real and very exhausting.
So, when someone you are close to tells you that they are having an anxiety attack, do not disregard it because it is not apparent to you. Sometimes those who are having an attack might not know they are having one. Often they might not feel like themselves and when you ask what is wrong, they tell you nothing or that they don't know because they truly might have no idea. We are conditioned to think that anxiety attacks have to be some outburst scene when in actuality, it does not always happen that way. Silent attacks are real and personal.