I’ve been living with the diagnosis of Panic Disorder for 5 years.
Last week, I had one of the worst panic attacks I’ve ever had in my life. And I’ve had some really bad ones.
The frustrating thing at the time was there wasn’t even really a trigger. Things were relatively fine throughout the day. That’s always one of the big struggles living with an anxiety disorder – sometimes, it just happens; no real reason or trigger and so it makes it that much more difficult to deal with, for both yourself and whoever you’re with.
I was sitting in the passenger seat on the way home. I’d began feeling the usual nausea and dizziness, so I rested my head and closed my eyes, trying to breathe through it. But it just got so much worse so fast. All at once my heart started pounding, my breathing was shallow and quick, and I could feel any ounce of strength I had draining and I was positive I was going to pass out right there in my seat. Feeling that weak – that faint – is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever known. You’re so vulnerable and helpless and I could barely hear my mom in the driver’s seat asking me all these questions I didn’t have the strength or knowledge to answer. My body felt overheated but I was also shivering, cold sweat on my forehead. And then worst of all – the tingling sensations in my hands and lips that always come during a panic attack. Except this time was different. This was worse. All of this is happening to me, and my panic spiked even higher when I noticed I couldn’t move my fingers. It was the strangest, scariest thing. I’ve never felt that before during a panic attack – like I was actually paralyzed. I’m looking at my hands as they’re tingling and when I realize I can’t move or bend my fingers, I go into full-on hyperventilation and panic. I remember bursting into tears and cried out that I couldn’t move my hands. It took maybe an hour or so before I calmed down enough before I could bend my fingers again into a fist.
I don’t know what the hell that was. I can only hope that it was the first and last time being that severe.
During all of this, my mom made us go to the hospital since we were already in the car just a few minutes away. I convinced her in the waiting room to just go home because being there was just making it worse – it was so crowded and it was going to take forever to see anyone for my symptoms. When we got home she said she finally realized she had to do some of her own research on how to help and deal during one of my panic attacks, which was nice to hear.
Because we don’t always know why our anxiety or a panic attack is triggered. There isn’t always a reason. And being asked over and over again things you simply cannot answer, especially while it’s happening, is beyond unhelpful.