My chest ached. My breathing was quick and heavy. “I can’t breathe,” I thought. I was breathing, but in my mind, I wasn’t. My throat felt so tight with anxiety. My eyes were heavy; I was fighting to keep them open. Tears began running down my cheeks, and I struggled to get them to stop. I must be dying… I am going to die.
But I wasn’t.
Anxiety attacks can feel like the most frightening thing. Anxiety feels like it completely takes over your mind, making you into an entirely different person. The simplest, smallest things suddenly become terrifying. You feel like you can’t breathe, and that your lungs aren’t getting enough oxygen. Both hands tingle and shake as your nerves make your heart race. Your eyes ache and puff from crying so much. Your throat feels overwhelmingly dry. You want to open your mouth to speak or scream, but you can’t.
But you’re OK… I promise.
You feel like nobody will understand what you are going through. Everyone always tells you things like, “everything will be okay” or “you just need to breathe.” But in those moments, it feels like your world is ending. And although you are trying to breathe, every breath you take just makes your chest ache and your throat close up. You look in the mirror, but you don’t even recognize the person looking back at you. “Try relaxing and taking a nap” they say, but that means you have to close your eyes, and closing your eyes means you won’t be able to see what is happening around you, and closing your eyes means darkness… and you are terrified of what might happen in the dark.
But nothing is going to hurt you.
You feel like your heart is beating out of your chest. This frightens you even more because you think you are having a heart attack, which makes you more anxious and more scared. Your heart beats so loudly that you can hear it thump in your ears. If you look down, your heart is beating so intensely that it moves your shirt off your chest. It feels like someone is holding your lungs in their hand, and they are squeezing them tightly. It feels like the tears coming from your eyes will never stop. It feels like the world is against you.
But it’s not… I promise.
You can live with anxiety. You can overcome your mental illness. Eating right, exercising, and reducing your stress can help you live a healthier life. Finding a friend or family member to help you talk through the thoughts in your head is also a great way to handle anxiety.
Don’t let anxiety control you. Don’t let your anxiety consume you. Don’t let your anxiety cripple you. As much as you feel like your life is ending, and nothing will improve, your anxiety and your life can and will improve.