I have panic attacks or what I call “worry-waves” for many reasons. It feels like a sinking, sick feeling, with a dash of spinning out of control, a hint of falling 100 feet, and warm limbs. Sometimes its accompanied by flushing red on my chest and face. My mouth gets dry. My hands shake. Occasionally I feel weak and dizzy, and on extreme occasions, I can’t catch my breath and I experience chest pains.
In a word, it sucks.
Sometimes my worry wave comes on gradually, and sometimes it’s a sudden electrifying jolt. For instance, when you are up for your 1am popcorn frenzy and you see a scary face outside your window, only to realize that it’s your reflection, having forgotten to remove your makeup which has been rubbed and melted down your face and now very much resembles a cross between Alice Cooper and the Scream ghost face mask.
Some of my triggers are:
- Seeing my family on latitude, in some place they aren’t supposed to be (which is almost always wrong, due to towers being inaccurate)
- Reading an email, hearing a voice mail or directly listening to a pissed-off client
- Learning that an expensive job has been rejected by the client, due to me/my staff error.
- Going to the Dr. (for any reason)
- Getting news that any family member is leaving town
- Sometimes I can’t pin point exactly what or why… I just feel wiggy.
If I am able to quell my panic at all, it comes after learning that the problem has abated, and if I can’t immediately fix it, or get information that all is well, I have to have this long internal discussion with myself about how things will be ok, and no matter what, I have people in my life that will love and support me. Sometimes that works, and sometimes I just can’t shake the wiggins.
After the panic is finally gone, and there is no more threat, I can relax. Although, as with most chronic worriers, my mind turns to wondering what’s on the horizon, or even what may be horrible and tragic going on right now that I don’t yet know about. Still, even after it’s all said and done, my body responds for hours, with exhaustion, heightened sensitivity to others harsh words/tones, intolerance of criticism, jumping at loud noises, and lack of mental focus.
What triggers you? What physical symptoms do you experience? And what do you do to calm yourself?