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Real Stories

I Had A Panic Attack Today

I had a panic attack today.

I was driving and I felt my hands start to tingle. I thought it was just too cold and so I turned the AC off. Then I noticed that they were getting to be numb and I had lost any strength I had in them before. I tried to grip the steering wheel as hard as I could and I felt like I could barely hold my arms up. It was like there were two weights tied to my hands and all of the sudden they fell onto my thighs because I began to not feel those either. My legs were shaking and I could barely press down on the gas pedal so I pulled over.

Then I felt it in my chest. I wasn’t strong enough to let out a breath. I would inhale and try to force the air back out of my body but all of the sudden something was lodged in my throat. My heart started racing almost as if it didn’t know how to play host to all these breaths and was having a panic of its own. Everything around me got really quiet, not because there was something wrong with my ears but because there was a siren blaring to let me know that my body was breaking down.

About a month ago my car died while I was driving down the I-5. Things were going off one-by-one. The stereo turned itself down, then the lights dimmed, the AC turned off, the power steering gave out and the car was slowing down about a mile a second as I tried my best to pull myself across the four lanes and onto the shoulder.

That’s essentially what was happening to me today. One-by-one parts of me were shutting down. However, the difference between these situations is that when something goes wrong with a car, we’re able to see the problem. The lights going off means your battery is probably dead, so on and so forth. When a healthy 20-year old girl is sitting in the driver’s seat of a Kia and all of the sudden just can’t do anything anymore, you’re still just looking at a 20-year old girl in a Kia.

I’ve had panic attacks before and yet again I was convinced that this wasn’t anxiety. Today I knew with all my heart that I was dying. There’s no way fear could stop my hands from moving or my lungs from working. Panic has no way of running down to my legs and back up to my chest to try and kick and pry it’s way out through my sternum. Crying is a natural reaction to fear but I wasn’t crying because I was feeling any type of way. I was crying because the tears were literally pouring out of me and I physically could not stop them.

I lost control of every part of me and no one could see what was happening or help me or fix me or just make it all stop and put me back together again. My friends kept saying to breathe and I wanted to scream and tell them to pull the air out from my chest. They said I was fine and this was just in my head and I wanted so badly for whatever was happening to me to get that much worse so that someone could finally see something.

Nothing about what happened today was in my head. As a matter of fact, it was everywhere but there. But somehow they were right, it was just anxiety and I had a panic attack today.

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by Jayda Rayphand

Spending my twenties navigating big cities and even bigger feelings.

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