June 30th, 2020
Everyone experiences anxiety differently.
For some people, it’s a general feeling of fear, your heart beating fast, or trouble breathing.
For me, it’s a very specific feeling.
What usually happens is time slows down a bit and my senses are crazily heightened.
It feels like my mind has turned into a video game that just had a major hit in frame rate.
Another way I can sense a panic attack coming on is the heightened senses. For example, regular sounds around me will be clanky and jarring. The sun will be extra shiny. I’ll be extra hot.
And when I swallow, I can feel the saliva going down my throat. It’s super weird.
For me, my panic attacks almost only happen in social situations - like at dinner with friends, in a meeting, telling a story, etc.
It never happens when I’m alone.
I think this is because if I’m in a social situation, I know that I have no way of getting out of it - I can’t just get up and leave, take a walk, or close my eyes.
In these social situations, it becomes a game of hiding my anxiety. But this usually makes it worse.
One way I’ve gotten around this is to just start talking. If I’m at dinner and feel a panic attack coming on, I’ll just start talking and ask someone a question to get my mind off of it..
Another tactic is to excuse myself and go to the bathroom. In these moments, I’m so deep in my own head that I have to lie about something as silly as going to the bathroom. (Nobody even notices)
This tactic usually never works though.
Another tactic is drinking alcohol. This is more of a gradual tactic, but it works pretty well. About two or three drinks and I can get myself back to normal.
But on the other hand, hangovers are also a trigger for panic attacks.
This is actually a big reason people become alcoholics.
Often we think of alcoholism as people that just want to get fucked up, but in reality, it’s people that have so much anxiety when they’re sober.
When I think about it this way, it makes me really sad, because that’s such a tough way to live life.
If you’re having a panic attack, one of the best things you can do is just own it. Just tell people how you’re feeling, and that you need to step outside or take a walk.
Once you own up to it and admit it, you’re no longer only in your own head, which makes everything much better.