A Letter I Wrote To Myself After A Panic Attack

woman wearing blue denim jacket standing near white concrete wall
Hailey Reed / Unsplash

Hi,

I’m writing this for you to test if this will work. I’m writing because I care about you and I’ve been worried about you. I know you had a tough night last night letting it all out, being open, being at your most vulnerable self with someone who has enough already. I saw how you drove home in a daze. I saw how you were staring at your ceiling, torn with staying up or sleeping because your nightmares haunt you. I saw how you kept waking up because of your dreams that don’t make sense. I saw how you just laid there facing on one side and suddenly feeling fresh hot tears cloud your eyes. I saw how you fought it off by forcing yourself to get up and boil some eggs because you haven’t eaten since last night. You haven’t eaten for almost a day. I saw you went to your room realizing your heart and mind are racing, trying to outrun each other. I saw how confused you are. I saw you started to pace back and forth in your room. I saw how you tried to distract yourself by grabbing the egg, remembering you should eat at least something by now. I saw how you tried to crack it. I saw you stopped. I saw you putting it back on the table. I saw you trying to stop your tears but they wont stop. I saw you trying hard to open it, but your hands are shaking and you’re finding it painful to do so because you’re forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. I saw you crying, pacing back and forth around the bed, your hands on your chest cause it’s been painful in that area, crying harder, feeling so lost. I saw you trying not to make a sound, I saw you trying to pace faster, grabbing tissues once in awhile and feeling your chest will explode. I saw you like this for about an hour. I don’t know how you have so many tears. I don’t know how you have so many grasps of air you’re trying to take in while pacing back and forth. I don’t know how you go around when your legs feel like jelly. I don’t know how much hair you’ve lost from grabbing your head, pulling your hair and trying to calm yourself. I don’t know how you’re not stopping with pacing back and forth while your body is telling you to stop moving. I don’t know if I can still look at you like this.

I saw you grabbed your phone, scrolled through your contacts and feeling lost with who can you talk to, who can you bug without feeling judged. I saw you going online and searched for your therapist’s number. I saw how desperate you looked. I saw how you impulsively texted your best friend, how you said “I’m lost.” I saw how she replied a lot, very worried about you because you weren’t making sense. I saw how you told her about your migraines, having hives, having nightmares and about your crazy thoughts that don’t make any sense. I saw how she said she loves you. I saw how you stopped replying. I saw how she texted again that she loves you. I saw how you just read it and refusing to talk to her anymore. I saw how you’re pushing her away now, feeling scared that she might feel what you’re feeling, thinking that she already has problems of her own, scared she might think her best friend that she has known for years is now crazy. I saw how you wanted to stop pushing her away because in reality you know that’s when you believe you need someone the most. I saw how you felt a little glimpse of hope when suddenly your therapist replied, I saw how you broke down on the floor crying reading she’s not available today. I saw how you just cried and laid there on the floor. I saw how helpless you looked, I felt torn seeing you like this. I wanted to pick you up but I can’t. I don’t know how to reach out to you. I don’t know how to help you because I know you’ll push me away too. You must have been crying for over an hour now, because you realized you’ve used up your tissue box already and have a mess of used napkins all around your room.

I saw you calmed down a bit later on and feeling your heart rate went slower. I saw how you went and tried to crack the egg open again, but you stopped. You stopped again and went back to crying with your heart racing, realizing you’re forcing something you don’t want to do. I saw you sitting there again on the floor, very confused, very lost, knowing you have to at least take something at this time, realizing how extremely cold your hands now are, just realizing your body has been shaking all this time. You haven’t eaten, you haven’t drank water, you haven’t showered for days. You haven’t done something for yourself and you are two pounds away now from being underweight. I saw you very confused, confused how panic attacks come after another. I saw you having a hard time sitting now because your back is starting to ache, your tummy is twisted to knots. Your thoughts go wild again thinking you can’t hold on any longer, and that you’ll destroy all your relationships soon, and that everything is actually your fault. You started to think about how you’re giving everyone a hard time, how invalid your feelings are and how worthless you are. You started to think about reading bad articles of people who gave up. You started to remember how you sat in your car writing on napkins with words too painful to share with anyone else. You started to remember how you almost overdosed yourself with pills and remembering your tongue, jaw and face getting numb and remembering not caring about anything anymore. You started to remember how it hurts when you wake up. I saw you when you opened your eyes the other day and started to cry because you prayed to not wake up anymore, to just sleep for good peacefully. I saw you fighting with your thoughts knowing that it’s wrong, knowing that it will hurt people, knowing it will cause pain, trying your best not to be completely selfish and finding yourself get confused and lost again.

I saw you wanting to pace back and forth again but you can’t. Your legs are damn tired and wobbly, your eyes are beyond swollen from crying and your chest is now red from all that trouble breathing and grasping for air. I saw you just sitting there against the wall, staring blankly and going back to the familiar feeling of constant nothingness. I saw how you felt numb just staring at your mattress. I saw how you realized there’s a pile of stuff underneath your bed. A Harry Potter wand, Forever 21 clothes, Bath and Body perfumes and sanitizers and more – realizing the stuff you buy at random times for other people, but more on realizing you haven’t really bought something for yourself lately.

I saw how you opened your laptop and just read, read about how a lot of people are actually lost and lonely, read about how a lot of people are neglected. I want you to know that your thoughts will be back, I want to warn you that they will haunt you again. You will go back to feeling you’re a burden, and you’re unimportant and lost. I want you to remember it will be a long, painful process. I won’t tell you that you won’t feel it anymore because you will and it will hit you harder than ever; but I want you to remember how you picked up your mess of napkins all around your room, how you waited to calm your heartbeat, and most importantly how you constantly reminded yourself that it will pass.

You will go back pushing people away when it gets too much, but I want you to know I’m here not giving up on you. I want you to know that someday you will stop relying on those pills – from migraine pills, claritin, steroid, ibuprofen and all other pills your body is dependent on. Someday you won’t need the expensive therapies. I want you to remember that your feelings are valid and real. I want you to know it’s okay to get lost. I want you to know that you’re not crazy- you’re a human being who gets tired and overwhelmed and its a part of the process of growing up and heading where you’re supposed to be. I want you to know that the most important relationship to prioritize right now is with yourself. It’s about time to stop thinking too much of other people around you. It’s okay to care, but it’s better if you start with yourself first. Know that it’s not selfish but it’s a way of being a better person with people around you. I know everything’s a mess right now and nothing makes sense but when it does, I want you here breathing and witnessing every minute of it. Things are broken and tangled right now for reasons you haven’t discovered yet, and I’m here to support you until things make sense. I want you to remember that when you get there, to not forget how lost you were so you can be sensitive with people around you. I want you to be able to support them when they need it and expect nothing in return. I want you to know how it feels like being this down so you can use it when you find yourself with a person this lost.

I want you to remember you are not alone. Yes you have your flaws, flaws that not everyone will understand. You will be constantly judged, you will be talked about, you will receive a lot of hurtful words from people close to you and from people you don’t know. Despite that, please know that I accept you for who you are and I know the truth behind all these things. You will find yourself lost again but please don’t give in. Remember that you can push through. You have surpassed a lot of things already. I want you to know that when you feel like giving up again, things are usually very difficult before they get easy. I want you to know that’s how you can truly appreciate things. I want you to start supporting yourself the way you support people. I want you to know that there are more reasons to focus on the positive things. You have a place to go home to when you get sick. It may feel like its not home, but it lets you rest when you need it. It’s not called home for now but someday you’ll be surprised you’ll find yourself having one. You’ll find yourself opening your door with a fluffy baby wagging its tail excited to see you.

Please remember it’s going to be okay. It will be hell again but things will be okay. You will feel terrible in the next couple weeks. You will feel homesick and lonely when holidays start to kick in. You will find yourself completely alone and stuck again. It will happen a lot before things will get easier. It may be not now, not soon, but someday you will be in the right place and you’ll find yourself surrounded with the right people who won’t hinder your growth. You might hurt and disappoint a lot of people along the way but know that it won’t be an overnight process to get where you’re supposed to be. Know that just because it was a painful decision doesn’t mean it was the wrong decision. You will fall, fall a lot of times but I’ll need you to get up more. You will get up more. Know that you don’t have to do something big to feel you’re progressing. Know that working on it even if it’s just 1% everyday is more than enough. It’s time to stop pushing me away and time to let me love you right. Bring me your fears, your anxieties, your tired body, your tired mind and your tired heart. Know that I understand and accept these ugly parts of you. Know that these parts will someday make and shape you. Know that we’ll make it work and know that these parts are loved too. Know that you deserve to be loved like how you accept and love people. You are flawed but you are worth it. Writing this wasn’t easy but I did this because I love you and I’m here for you. TC mark

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