“The air was thick and sticky and the rain was hot. As we walked I ran my hands along the walls of the buildings and they were disgustingly warm. Nothing was cold or new or refreshing. It was all intense and stilted. It wasn’t a big attack, the pins and needles in my nose and cheeks only lasted what felt like seconds (it could have been longer, could have been shorter). I couldn’t find anything that would calm me down – everything was suffocating. My dress was backless and I could feel the chill from the air con above and yet my hair stuck to the back of my neck with a creeping sweat. Everything about me was irrational. I was hot and scared and I hated the feeling of being trapped in the knowledge that all this embarrassing scary bullshit was about to ensue, but being completely helpless. They never get easier. You could have had 100 or you could have had 5 and each time it is new. It is cruel in the fact that it is frightening either way – experience tells you what to expect and only allows you the luxury of being trapped in your anticipatory thoughts. Inexperience brings the classic fear of the unknown – there is very little more fear inducing than the experience of fearing your body. I’ve said fear too much.
If it was a colour it would be white. But not white that is pure and adorns the gowns of brides. The white produced by an experimental explosion that blinds people. The white of sheer power. It is glaring and unyielding and it hurts.
Everyone has telltale signs. Mine are the pins and needles in my face, rapid breathing and my vision delusions. Occasionally I also get limb freezing – usually in my hands. My hands literally freeze into a claw shape and I can’t move my fingers. The freezing only occurs in my worst attacks though – the attacks that I can’t control and that just won’t stop.
Eating is one of my big triggers. This thing occurred because I felt odd going into a restaurant I think. The hotness and whatever was probably just a catalyst. Or maybe it was a side effect – a starter for what was to come. I don’t know. Eating establishments and I have quite the history. It just brings on all the old fears and thoughts and habits and suggestions from my disorder. I don’t think like that anymore, and even in the moment I don’t believe it or feel it. But I’m still suffocated. It’s like putting on an old coat – a huge brown furry thing that almost reaches the floor. It bunches up around my shoulders and the hairs intrude my nose and mouth. My face is nearly almost completely covered and the sleeves swamp my hands and wrists. I keep pushing them up almost to my elbows but they just won’t stay. The coat is heavy and hot and covers almost every inch of my body and skin. I can’t breathe, I can barely see, I struggle to walk. The coat is old and no longer mine – its been shoved into a cupboard. But everytime it is shoved onto me I am swamped. Nothing will ever change the way that coat fits me.
I’m cold now. It could be the fact that I walked and crouched and lingered in the rain and am now being blasted by air con. Fucking science.
I think I’m tired. That probably contributed to the whole thing. The fact that my body is crying out for respite. Maybe it chose to do it by blasting out that bright white light, like a dying star. I don’t feel eye tired, but my chest feels heavy and breathing is more work than it should. I’m grinding my teeth too. But I do that anyway.”
I wrote this during and after a panic attack I experienced whilst on holiday. Of course it has a touch of the dramatics about it, but such is the mind of someone panicking who has a flair for creative writing. I read it back now, calm, and still completely agree with what I scrawled maniacally that evening. I really would recommend writing to anyone suffering from anxiety – it’s a remarkable cure for hysteria.