Panic Attack

Nerves crackling like a wild-fire out of control
Stomach churning so fast, the motor is going to burn out
Head spinning like a top on the edge of the table
Feet pacing deep grooves into the carpet
Sweat pouring down my back like a waterfall
Body trembling so hard, it triples my vision
Fear claws its way up the back of my throat with razor sharp talons
Walls closing in quickly, nowhere to go, nowhere to hide
Can’t think or feel or breathe or move
This too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass
Why isn’t it passing?
Eternity threatens and tortures me with no mercy
Silence and stillness for which I have prayed for comes
I am now left broken, exhausted, and shadowed by shame
But I have survived and made it through, yet again

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25 responses to “Panic Attack

  1. I like the ending of your post, “But I’ve survived and made it through, yet again” That’s really what our struggles are all about, learning how to survive through them, and then congratulating ourselves for life and the strength we have deep down inside. Thank you for sharing!
    Blessings on your journey, Erin, Bella Bleue

    • Thank you, Erin! I rarely write poetry, but when I do, it comes from the rawest of my emotions, and without much thought. In reading what I have written, I see how I have grown. It is very healing. =)
      -Cindy

  2. Hi, Cindy…great poem! I think you’ve pretty well nailed a lot of panic attack symptoms there. I’m glad you’ve learned to deal with them, and hope you don’t have to experience them at all soon. Wish I’d read this about 2 1/2 weeks ago. I had my second ever after stressing too much over formatting issues…and wound up in the emergency room for four hours. I should have tried the deep breathing and other things first. 🙂

    • Yikes! The first ones are the absolute worst because you generally don’t know what is happening or why. I wrote in more detail the techniques that work well for me in my post Just Me, #9, which I think is the one right after this post. I have not been having the attacks for quite some time, but have had two in the past month. I could be wrong, but I believe it is because I have recently changed medication and have not adjusted to it fully. Fortunately, my therapist taght me how to get through them and they are, as a result, less intense and do not last long at all. Stress can definitely be a trigger. I, too, hope you do not have to deal with them too often, but it is important to know; some people do have an occsional panic attack, while others have them frequently which is when it becomes a disorder. Fortunately, it sounds as if this is not the norm for you. Take care!

      -Cindy

    • I agree and not just with panic attacks or other disorders, but in all things that are difficult in life. I can look back on the things I have encountered and endured and think, if I made it through that, I can make it through just about anything! I also remind myself that I am worth it! =)

      -Cindy

  3. Pingback: Just Me, #9 | One Mind Many Detours

  4. I used to have these, in the pre-recovery days when I’d wake up in the middle of the night terrifies and then I’d have to find something to fret about, so I could eat. sheesh – what a circle that was.

    sounds like you manage them well. continued, slow deep breathing will help abate them. Also, if you can catch them early early, Cognitive therapy says to tell yourself to stop (a gesture helps to reinforce this if you’re alone) change the focus of your eyes and then choose another thought. Do it over and over again, so that you can’t go into panic.

    emotions are a chemical reaction to our thoughts, so if we can change the thought, we change the emotion. Your mileage may differ but it worked for me.

    thanks for a great post.

    • Thank you, Louise! Does closing your eyes and visualizing count for changing their focus? I do use the breathing more than anything else, but have never told myself to stop. I will defintiely give that a try. Fortuantely, I do not have the attacks very often anymore, but I truly believe some of these exercises, and other coping skills I have developed to prevent them in the first place, have been instrumental in lessening their frequency and intensity. It is always nice to hear your thoughts! Thank you for the tips!

      -Cindy

      • i’m glad they are less frequent, cindy. Whenever my thoughts where I don’t want, I put up my hand like a traffic cop and say ‘stop’. move my eyes and choose another thought. it takes many many times of doing this, but I have changed my internal dialogue. good luck. I never tried visualisation – I simply choose another thought but let me know how that works.

        • The visualization works with the breathing; visualizing postiveness coming in with the breath, and negativeness leaving with the exhale. It has worked really well for me! I have also spent a lot of time changing my inner dialogue as well. Negative or worrisome thoughts are counterproductive, so I have “not permitted” myself to continue such thoughts, but to change them immediately! I agree, it is a lot of work, but it is worth the effort. Thank you.

          -Cindy

  5. Panic attacks are the worst. Yet, you’ve taken the experience of a panic attack and turned it into a visceral, honest-to-goodness poem.

    That’s amazing. And brave. I’m so glad you wrote this poem, and I’m so glad I get to read it.

    (And do you know what I really love? I love the vivid “waterfall of sweat” image— that’s going to stay with me all day. I also like the near-rhyme in the last couplet at the end. It really, really works here.)

    • Thank you, Courtenay! I do not aim to write poems, but the ones I have written just come out of nowhere, Fortunately, I am aware of how rare that is for me and immediately grab pen and paper and scribble it down quick before I forget!

      Brave, huh? I hadn’t thought of it that way before. I think my main intention of posting this was to let others who experience the same know that they are not alone, and that it can and will get better.

      -Cindy

      • Oh my, yes, brave. Absolutely brave. I think when we talk about the things that scare us in a way that helps others? It’s like shining a torch at those scary things. They scurry away.

        Secrets and scary things don’t survive the light of honest truth.

        I like that aspect of your writing a great deal. You really do share your experiences in a thoughtful way. And that takes a lot of bravery, I think. Your bravery makes me so happy!

        • Thank you, Courtenay! That is really sweet. One of the things that we learn in recovery is that we keep what we have only by giving it away. I look at as paying it forward. Someone shined guiding lights on my dark path, so I am only giving back what has been given to me and hope that the next person will keep this give and take in motion!

          -Cindy

  6. Sounds like me during a hard workout…

    Seriously though, beautifully done. Really captures the essence of a debilitating disorder. Kudos to you for posting it.

    • Thank you! It once was debilitating for me, but no longer. I have learned to manage them and even to prevent them, but it didn’t happen over night. I am so thankful I have made it through the worst and have learned so much from the process.

      -Cindy

  7. Excellent description, my daughter suffers from debilitating panic attacks, I also have them, but not this severe, you work through them well, sorry this happens to you.

    • Thank you, Katrina! It is not as bad as it once was. In learning how to get through them, I have even noticed they do not last as long as before. I have since posted Just Me, #9 and in that I wrote of two techniques that work really well for me. Anything that can help is worth trying, especially for your daughter if they are holding her back from so many things in life. If yours are not as intense, then these techniques will definitely work for you!

      -Cindy

  8. Having seen panic attacks for real, I can sympathise .. Keep breathing.. and again like I said before.. a great affirmation,, is “ All is well in my world” .. Take care.. stay bright and beautiful……… and keep smiling that beautiful smile.. and the world will smile with you ….. ~Sue

    • I think that sort of happened by accident. =) I used to have two friends that if I called them and couldn’t talk, they new I was in crisis and would just start chatting into my ear. I would try real hard to focus, if not on the actual words they were saying, then at least on the familiarity of their voice. This worked for me…IF I had the presence of mind to grab my phone and dial them up. Which was not often, so I started talking out loud to myself and acknowledging the things I was experiencing, and as I did this, I was essentially facing things head on and they slowly subsided. This was before therapy and learning some very effective techniques to prevent or to work through them more quickly. =)

      -Cindy

      • my daughter has panic attacks every once and a while and when she was younger a lot. I wouldtalk to her in a certain way, really gentle yet compeeling her to relax and think of her breath calming and so on. One time I was asleep and she had one and I dreamed someone was having one in the hospital (I thought I was in the hospital) in another room and I woke up talking to her the same way and she was havinga panic attack lol.

        • That is really cool how that worked out. You must have sensed on some level that she needed you and somehow your dream integrated itself with your reality. I love that kind of stuff! =)

          -Cindy

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