What It Feels Like After You Have An Anxiety Attack

Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly

It’s 4am, and you are just calming down from an anxiety attack. There are a million thoughts running through your head, and you know if you don’t put them into words, there will be no sleep. So here you are, typing away on a Word doc, because you don’t know what else to do, and because you need to.

You know by now that there is no point in trying to figure out the cause of your anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle — you get stressed out because you don’t know why, and so you get even more anxious. There is no end until you are completely exhausted — mentally and physically — drenched in sweat, in tears and throwing up in the bathroom. Your therapist tells you that you just need to shut off your brain and let the feelings run its course — like a cold. Like a cold — because it’s an illness, that’s what depression is.

You’ve had this illness for years now. You know you are luckier than many others, because most days it’s manageable. Most days, you feel normal and happy, and you almost forget you even have it. You are actually an optimist, you believe that maybe, it will just go away one day. So the bad days always manages to catch you off guard and knock the breath out of you. You think maybe you should just always brace yourself for the bad days, be prepared. But that’s like wearing a poncho on a sunny day, who would want to do that?

Your therapist encourages you to talk to your friends and family. You never told anyone because — there are just too many reasons. You don’t want to worry or sadden anyone — it’s not their burden to bear. You are also nervous about how they will react — will they be disappointed? Or worse — pity you and treat you like a fragile doll? That will just absolutely destroy you. You know you are loved but that doesn’t mean you will be understood.

Your therapist said you are assuming the worst and underestimating people’s capacity for acceptance. You agree rationally, but your insecurities and pride speak louder than your brain. There is too much riding on the line. You shaped your entire life to match their expectations, and you see yourself through their eyes. You want to be this successful person that they believe you are — and you strive to be. You know that is not healthy, but it’s easier than dealing with your self-hatred. It’s a life-vest that keeps your head above the water in this murky ocean you struggle to stay afloat. Maybe there’s a propeller in the vest that could help you get to the shore faster, but you really don’t want to mess with the wrong buttons — you could drown faster than you could scream.

So you pick yourself off the bathroom floor, wipe the tears and clean yourself up. You take a Zoloft and an Ambien before you go back to bed — hoping the pillow that you hug close to your chest can muffle the painful pounding of your heart. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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