Impending Panic Attack

I can’t get my brain to turn off. Right now, I’m in the early stages of a panic attack. I feel it building, and I’m having trouble stopping it. I often do.

For me, it feels like every muscle in my body is slowly contracting. Worse in my arms, but they’ve been sore for days. It feels like either everything is slowing down, or I am speeding up. My thoughts are racing. They get louder as it progresses.

My own brain is screaming at me of all my failures, my deepest regrets. My fears.

Which, really, all amount to poor life choices. But were they ever really choices? My brain is telling me that all I ever do is sit back and let my life live me. I don’t choose, I don’t move. I don’t engage past the absolutely necessary.

I let the waves and eddies of my life push and drag me wherever I go. Did I ever decide to move here? Did I decide and want the life I have? Right this moment it sure doesn’t feel that way. Right now all it feels like is fear and pain and uncertainty.

The typical tricks only help when the attack is fully manifested. I have found the most useful to be

  • focusing on a specific, stationary object and describing it in vast detail
  • measured, slow breathing
  • blankets, and other soft textures. Burritoing up!

But they don’t help now, at this stage. At this stage, I’m frozen in fear of the train of anxiety crashing down at me. It feels inevitable. As it is, I’m focusing heavily on the sensations and emotions to avoid thinking about the triggers. To do that would be to listen to my own brain list in detail how I have failed those I love, how to go back in time to fix my one most regretted failure would be to fail those who depend on me now. It’s a paradox of shame and tears, I suppose.
But there I go, thinking of the wrong things. Usually crafting keeps my brain occupied enough to avoid this. Enough brain-engaging crafting will keep me unable to sit and listen to the litany of my failures. Unfortunately I didn’t have any projects nearby, and I didn’t feel like reading.

I have a big project I’ve been pushing off because it’s intimidating. I have a medium project I’m resisting because it’s in a monotonous stage. I don’t have a small project.

Perhaps a hot shower, and working on my kid’s Halloween costume are in order. Because whatever I do, I need to do it right now, and I need to stop thinking. Maybe I can head this one off.

Just writing this has lessened the pressure in my chest to the point that my head feels full of cotton, and a much smaller gorilla sitting on my chest. And yet it’s far less terrifying than it was ten minutes ago.


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