I’ve started to have panic attacks in the past few years, and I’ve realised that explaining how a panic attack feels to someone who’s never experienced one is a lot harder that it seems like it would be.
Most people who don’t get them don’t really have any clue what they are.
How can you explain to someone that you feel like you might be dying or stuck in a panic forever without sounding completely crazy and having it make some actual sense? It’s hard to know exactly what you need when you’re having a panic attack, and sometimes it’s hard to even accept that you’re having one. So in attempt to help people understand what happens during a panic attack (although it differs from person to person), this is the best explanation I’ve come up with so far:
It’s like being engulfed by everything around you, one at a time.
It’s like one by one, each and every stimulus around you takes over your mind and body. One by one, a sound or a feeling or a visual will become so engulfing that that one stimulus becomes your entire reality. That one thing becomes every thought that goes through your mind and every physical and emotional feeling you have.
Music seeps in through your ears and gets stuck pounding inside your brain, up against your forehead and against the walls of your seemingly hollow yet incredibly weighted down body. Voices and conversations invade your thoughts and echo themselves over any other thoughts.
Every space condenses itself so small that you become paralysed inside it. Every space becomes the wrong space to be in and every second the feeling of needing to escape but not knowing where to escape to only worsens.