What My Panic Attack Feels Like
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Health and Wellness

What My Panic Attack Feels Like

It isn't easily explained or easily overcome.

What My Panic Attack Feels Like
Fang Zhou

It starts with an achy feeling in the pit of my stomach. I think, "Maybe it's something I ate, or it's just cramps." But the dull roar grips my gut and squeezes as tight as possible, until all I can think about is the burning vile rising in my throat.

And as quickly as it came, the sick feeling is gone, and I freeze. My arms and legs go numb, and it feels as though they've disappeared. I try to call out, but my throat closes off, as if someone took their hands and squeezed my vocal cords- until my voice vanishes. And to make it worse, I can't seem to remember what I was wanting to call out for in the first place. I can't think. There is no tangible word in my brain. All I see is darkness, and there's only one feeling- fear.

This fear grips me. I can't move, I can't speak, I can't think. I don't know what happened to get me to this point, and I don't know what I can do to get out of it. I feel dead. I want to die. I wish I were dead. Slowly, I start to grasp at words, thoughts, and more feelings. Thoughts, phrases, and sentences become more concrete, but I still have to exert a considerable amount of effort to snatch them from the murky pool that is my sub conscience.

You are ugly, fat, unloved, and the furthest thing from being enough. This is better than living. Stay here. Stay paralyzed. Stay completely alone. You deserve to disappear.

And the sickness comes again. These ugly lies fill my whole body, and they bring feelings of hatred, disgust, and sadness. These feelings are so powerful that they take the vile from the bottom of my stomach and bring it up my throat again. No matter how badly I want to move and get the nasty substance from my body, I am still frozen. I try desperately to move my fingers, arms, toes, feet, mouth, eyes, anything. Nothing.

And then it hits me- I haven't been breathing this whole time. My mind has been trying to unfreeze and grasp anything it possibly can- trying to regain any ounce of consciousness it can- that it forgot one of the most vital things- to breathe. In my mind, I reach out at a thought, a prayer- " Jesus, Jesus, help me breathe." And slowly, a breath comes. I take it gladly, and pray I can manage another.

Once I start to breathe, my thoughts come clearly now, and I can pray more easily. " Jesus, take these lies from me. Replace them with your truths." I think through some of my favorite verses, until slowly the numbness fades. I am able to move my fingers, then my toes, and then I shift my weight until I'm sitting up straight. I stand, and the fuzziness that filled my whole body slowly fades away. I open my mouth, and one single word-pained, raspy, almost too quiet, leaves my dry, achy throat- "Help."

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