I’ve been willing to write about panic attacks since I started the website, but it has taken time for me to find the way to make it happen.
It is not at all an easy or fun topic, and even less so for the ones who have suffered them.
I’ve been wondering what could I possibly say about them, what could I possibly explain so they wouldn’t sound as scary or as weird for someone that has never experienced them, even though they are scary and hard to describe.
So I’ll go and try to explain what I have learned from them.
I don’t know how to talk about “panic attacks” in general, since every single one of them seems pretty different, even for the same person, and even in the same period of time.
In my case, none of them was or felt the same.
They all told me a different story, they all taught me a different lesson, and I guess that’s why they are THAT hard, that overwhelming, that suffocating and that powerful and damaging at the same time.
It’s very difficult to try to explain a general truth about them, but there are some common traits that can help you recognize the monster when it shows up.
What is generally true about them is that they consume all of your energies.
They make you feel weak and vulnerable and willing to cry even for no real reason.
They trump you to believe that you have no control over your actions, your body or your thoughts.
They make your body feel as if you were followed by a very angry and dangerous creature that never stops chasing you.
They take all your fears and put them in front of your own eyes, consuming you.
They touch your vulnerabilities with rage.
They feel like a nightmare that you can live while you are perfectly awake.
Some people tremble, some get paralyzed, some cry, some feel as they can’t breathe.
But every case is different.
And very hard to handle.
I’ve had quite a few of them in my life and I honestly believe that every time it happens I have to look for brand new ways to battle the agonizing feeling.
Sometimes I’m getting ready for going out and the tears start coming out from nothing and my face gets covered in black sadness.
Sometimes I’m about to start a trip and I start feeling more nervous than I should be.
Sometimes I’m just outside and start to find it hard to breathe and walk and I have to get home.
Sometimes I’m just working on something and I begin to worry way too much that I have to stop everything and take a break before it gets me.
Sometimes I’m just spending time with my family and I start to feel hurt and numb and I have to go for a walk.
Anxiety has a way of coming back that manages to surprise you and scare you every single time.
I know it because I have lived with it since I was 7 years old.
I know its functioning.
I know its way of using your brain for its own means.
I know its way to cause a subtle but persistent erosion of self.
I know its capacity to tell brilliant minds that they aren’t worthy.
I know its ability to paralyze a human being.
I know its ability to ruin projects and dreams and moments and experiences.
I know its capacity to make people suffer and to make them feel undeserving.
I know its capacity to be ultimately lethal.
For years I felt like I could never win in the battle with that powerful enemy.
I thought that at some point it would just win our war and I would just stay silent somewhere contemplating my own destruction.
I thought I was unable to handle its madness and evil functioning.
But I kept fighting, not knowing the answer of many questions I had in my mind.
Questions like: why did I deserve this?
Why does it keep coming back?
Why am I not capable of controlling it?
Why is it that I can’t find a reason behind it?
Why is it affecting me that much?
One day I realized that despite of all the times anxiety had kicked in, I was always able to overcome it in the end, no matter how much suffering and tears and desperation it had caused me along the way.
I realized that every time it had tried to kill me, I had always found a way to keep breathing again.
I had found a way to keep living again.
I had found a way to be victorious again.
Anxiety is the friend I never asked for.
The voice of someone telling you “I love you so much” while it tries to kill you every night when you are asleep.
It is the most powerful and dangerous enemy of my own brain.
But it is also something that has challenged me in a way that can be hardly reproduced.
It is also something that has managed to bring out the best of me.
It is also something that has made me embrace my sensitivity and my emotions with deep honesty and rawness.
It is also something that lives at the heart of my brilliance.
It is also something that has made me appreciate life more intensely.
It is also something that has showed me how beautiful it is to be imperfect.
It is also something that has showed me how precious it is to be human.
It is my torturer, and it is my most precious teacher.
It is my pain, and it is my beauty.
It is my curse, and it is my blessing.
And I have decided to embrace both.