That shortness of breath, the whooshing sound in your ears and the sudden feeling like the world is too loud and the sun is too bright, that controls so much of my day.
I was lucky to have a mother that put me into performing poetry at a young age to build my confidence and help me overcome my fear of speaking to people personally and publicly.
This really helped me when I was younger.
As I got older and after I was diagnosed with FIbromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis, I started to become increasingly panicky when it came to speaking to people and going out into public areas. More so after I was the subject of bullies and the things they had to say.
So I developed a persona – a confident and vibrant and happy person – that becomes my mask when I need to do something that makes me uncomfortable.
I had my first panic attack when I was walking my older dog, Domino. The same route we used to walk and at the same time. We were about halfway when I suddenly couldn’t drag enough air into my lungs and where the light was so bright that I felt violently ill. I heaved and heaved and nothing came out.
The ringing and whooshing noises in my ears made me dizzy so I sat down on the sidewalk and hung my head and drew my knees up to my chest and tried to calm myself down and ride out the wave. I felt like I was suffocating, unable to draw in enough air to take a proper breath.
At this point, Domino pressed against my body and gently and cautiously rested her head on my arm and licked my forearm. She calmed me down.
Naturally when you start panicking, you start crying. By the time I was no longer dizzy and experiencing almost no nausea, I was sobbing. Not even a pretty sob (if there is such a thing) but a jagged and snotty sob.
I made my way home and tried to drink some water, I remember my hands being so shaky and my body feeling like it was plugged into an outlet and set on waves of vibration.
I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon in the sun with Domino. We just sat together and she calmed and comforted me. She always has. She still does.
One thing that frustrates me is that people throw the term “anxiety” around so sloppily and use it where it should not be used. Anxiety isn’t a joke. Neither is depression. This is something I know with every fibre in my body.
It is debilitating and ugly and it is such a serious thing. It is totally unpredictable.
There are over 100 confirmed symptoms to anxiety. It is unique to each person.
- Numbness and tingling
- Chest pain
- Neck tension
- Stomach upset, nervous stomach
- Pulsing in the ear
- Burning skin
- Fear of impending doom
- Shortness of breath
- Electric shock feeling
- Shooting pains in the face
- Heart palpitations
- Weakness in legs
- Feeling like you are going crazy
- Inability to rest
- Sleep problems
If you experience any of these, please go and see a medical professional that can help you navigate this and help you understand it.