i am already awake.

Here is something fictional I wrote about panic attacks a while ago based on true things. Trigger warning: includes racing thoughts. Also, hope y’all like the new design! Decided to switch things up a bit.

My friend told me of her nightmare last night. She said it was so awful, she couldn’t wait to wake up. She was terrified, just talking of it. I asked if talking would help and this is what she told me…

She was drowning. She was falling through the depths of water. Deeper, she kept falling. Her arms were straining. She knew how to swim but the water was stronger. The water kept pulling her deeper until she couldn’t see the light. She felt things brush past her skin. She couldn’t see them. Sharks or fish? Whales or dolphins? She didn’t know. Then there were more. Then pain. Pain all over. The source? She didn’t know. Real? She didn’t know. Maybe it was the sharks. Maybe it was the cold water. Maybe it was just the fear taking over. Oxygen. She needed oxygen. Her lungs burned. Fire. Her chest felt like it was going to explode. Heartbeat. Rapid pulse. She tried to calm herself to slow it down. It raced faster. Her thoughts kept racing as she fell deeper. Deeper still. But never reaching a bottom. She picked up speed, falling faster and faster and faster. More things brushing on her skin. More pain. More fire. Faster pulse. Falling deeper. Falling faster. More animals pushed past her. More pain. Fire. Pulse. Fall. Deep. Fast. Animals! Pain! Fire! PULSE! FALL! DEEP! FAST! ANIMALS!! PAIN!! FIRE!! PULSE!! FIRE!! FALL!!!!! DEEP!!!!! FAST!!!!! Her thoughts screamed…

Then she woke up.

She felt better having shared it. I didn’t tell her then because I didn’t want to make her feel worse, but I was really jealous that day. She woke up. I can’t.

This is what all my panic attacks feel like. Each time, I wish I could wake up. Unfortunately… I am already awake.

breathe

Breathe. It’s the best thing to do in a panic attack, or just to calm yourself in general. But it’s also one of the hardest things sometimes. So I’m dedicating a whole post to how I breathe through them.

  1. Acknowledge it
    • If you’re in a panic attack, it isn’t going anywhere. It’s best not internalize it unless you absolutely have to.
    • Realize that there are some things (like breathing) that can be done in public. Find things that help you and then use them after acknowledging a panic attack.
  2. Breathe in
    • Slowly
    • Through your nose
    • 5 seconds
  3. Hold
    • 8 seconds
  4. Breathe out
    • Slowly (shouldn’t be able to hear yourself breathing out)
    • Through your mouth that is forming a small O shape, as if blowing through a straw
    • Allow your muscles to relax as you breathe out
    • 10-20 seconds

The longer you can do it, the better. It should be a little hard and uncomfortable, but don’t push yourself too hard that you pass out. It’s good to practice this first when you’re not in anxious situation. This will help you gauge what you’re capable of. You should be able to do a little less than that when you’re in an anxious situation. If you can’t do 5-8-20, then do 3-6-10, or whatever you can do. Just keep the ratios approximate: most time for breathing out, least time for breathing in, and holding it is in the middle.

Breathe. Take some time to acknowledge your panic attack and breathe.