It’s sudden. It doesn’t happen gradually, it’s nothing and then it’s all encompassing. It’s zero, then it’s a billion, you’re breathing and then you’re choking.
But you do feel it creeping, that familiar feeling that you had forgotten about. It’s bubbling somewhere beneath the surface, and as soon as you realise, all of your senses switch off in a joint effort to combat it. You can’t hear anything around you, you can’t hear anyone talking to you because you’re using all your energy just begging for that feeling to go away before it erupts and forces you to experience it again. People around you will scream at you because you’re not listening to them but it’s because you’re too busy trying to fight it off before it comes.
But of course, life never happens the way we want it to and suddenly you can’t breathe.
I don’t know how it starts.
You never remember what happens between the normal and the frenzy. Some people have panic attacks for no reason. Others only have them when it’s been triggered by severe distress. Maybe fear. But before you know it, you’re hyperventilating and then it’s a downward spiral because this time it won’t stop and then you’re making all this racket trying to force air into your lungs and you can’t stop crying. Because it’s not working.
Your chest hurts, you’re choking and you’re losing your fucking mind, and no you can’t look at them right now because you’re embarrassed and you want to be alone. You need your fucking benzos but you don’t have them anymore. You won’t be able to say that you haven’t had a panic attack in years anymore, you’ll have to say it happened just last week. You’ll need to have some benzos on standby. Fucking combo breaker.
Maybe it’ll happen when you’re sitting in your car and you feel like you’re trapped inside a vaccum, so you open the door and run outside across the road. Because you just need air, and all of the air is outside the car and there’s none inside and if you stay in there any longer you’ll suffocate and you’ll die, you will die, you are going to die. You just ran out, you didn’t even look, anything could have hit you. But you needed air.
You drop your bag, your purse on the road along the way and leave the door wide open and you latch onto something cold just to make you feel stable. A lamppost, maybe. And you’re trying to breathe but your airways aren’t opening up for you, your own body feels like it’s fighting you. But you can’t breathe and you’re struggling because you can’t breathe and you’re panicking because you can’t breathe and you can’t breathe because you’re panicking. You can’t do anything except ride the wave. You catch your breath a little, and then you think the worst part is over, but it lingers and you still need comfort so you get back into the car whilst you can.
And the car brings you comfort, and you need to be alone in there. Maybe you’re delusional now, but your car has been here for you, you know? It gets you to where you need to be, it lets you go to places at night, it shelters you from the rain, it locks him out when you’re scared of him. You’d open the door if someone banged on the window; you’d rather they punched you in the face than hurt your car because you care more about everything and everyone around you than yourself. And look where that got you. You’ve found comfort in there, but still, not in yourself. It’s not over yet. You’ve finally relearnt how to breathe, congratulations. A newborn can do that straight out of the womb. It’s short and uncomfortable, but it’s a start.
We’re back to hyperventilation. You still need to hold onto something, so you grab the handbrake and hold on for dear life. Your fingers will probably start to hurt, they turn white from the grip but that’s what you need to calm you down a little. The rest of your body is frozen, but also you can’t stop shaking. Your eyes are fixed on the building in the distance and you’re breathing but you become conscious of how difficult it is, so it starts again. You need more grounding. You see a fox, you see a few foxes, and you keep your eyes glued to them because they’re real and they’re free, and then they disappear and theres nothing left for you to focus on. You frantically look for the fox in the bush.
And there’s someone asking you what the fuck that was and you can’t speak because it’s not over yet and they’re asking you what’s going on in your head and I don’t know, nobody is telling me I’m going to be okay so I don’t know, I don’t know what’s going on in my own head so don’t fucking ask me that. And you sob, and you choke, and you sob, and you choke, because breathing is so fucking hard you just want to stop crying and you wish they would stop shouting at you. You feel like a fucking pussy, this bitch can’t even breathe. This bitch is so terrified of nothing, of herself, that she’s actually shaking. I’m supposed to be strong but I can’t breathe and I have tears streaming down my stupid face and I’m shaking uncontrollably and I look like a pathetic waste of space.
And then it goes away. Just as fast as it came.
Now Playing: Panic Attack – Atmosphere