The last two days I’ve had panic attacks, and I feel fuzzy. It’s the same feeling many people get with low blood sugar, so I’ve heard. Your body feels shaky and on edge, but your brain is fuzzy. For me, it’s a contradictory feeling. I’m on high alert, but I can’t focus. The hair on my body stands on end; I have goosebumps all over. I want to be present and disappear all at the same time.
When the panic sets in, I find it hard to remember that there are other things going on around me. I become fully present in the attack and lose focus on anything else in the world. It’s extremely odd since I feel so full of energy, but I lack the ambition or motivation to do something that releases it. I can feel the blood rushing under my skin and I can’t sit still. I need to find something…anything…to do, but I lose the ability to focus on one thing. It’s extremely frustrating knowing I need any outlet but not being able to actually focus on something productive. I’ve tried several things, exercise, meditation, even tai chi. But while some relief is found, it’s not enough to abate the panic attack. The only thing that runs through my mind is the situation that brought on the anxiety, having it play over and over in my head.
As the trigger looms, and my inability to find a release increases, my body begins to react. Heat spreads through my body like a flush. Sometimes this begins without my knowledge, but I’m snapped out of anything I’m doing when the heat spreads up the back of my neck to my head. A tingling sensation always follows, and this is when I know I can’t stop the impending panic attack. I know I need to find a place where I can ride the waves of it comfortably and privately.
The attack normally ends in an outburst of emotion, routinely in the form of crying. The stress and anxiety builds so intensely that it’s the only way it can escape. I shake and cry loudly, and it’s exhausting. It’s like being a tea pot that is coming to boil. The jitters, the hot flashes, the tingling sensations are all leading up to a boiling over of tears and waves of heaving breaths.
After the attack is over my brain, and occasionally my body, go into recovery. I still don’t have the ability to focus, but this time it’s not from being overstimulated. My mind feels fuzzy and blurry around the edges. I can stare off into space easily and get caught in the emptiness of my mind. The outburst of energy is so great that I have nothing left to even motivate a thought process. I move and think on instinct, when needed. If it was something that I could bring on naturally through a meditative state, I’m sure it would be quite relaxing. But after something as jarring as a panic attack, it feels more weighted. There’s a heft to it since it’s not voluntary. My whole body feels heavier, and it takes a concentrated effort to get up and go about my day.
I’ve been thinking of a lot lately, trying to sort through my past, my relationships, my weight, just life in general. I’m scared. I’m scared of who I’ll end up being, where I’ll end up and what responsibility I’ll have for it. To be specific, I’m terrified I will end up like my father. He wasn’t a well-loved or well-lived individual. I fear waking up one day, without family or loved ones and realizing I was the cause of it. I fear being the reason I was isolated, treating others in ways that forced them to choose survival and self or a relationship with me. I never want to be that person that lives without love or that pushes others to breaking points. This fear fuels so much of where I am right now.
I spent so much time on edge trying to keep things stable, and I felt responsible to keep him from blowing up. I would only take so much, and after really tough days of blow ups and insults, I’d scream back. I’d unload. I learned I was capable of being just like him. This…this frightens me. I have that…that rotten pit that festered inside his stomach…in me. I know it’s there. I’ve seen it in action. I would hurl insults back at my father when I felt like I was up against a wall. I’d feel backed into a corner and lash out. It was my way of protecting myself and hurting him back. I needed to feel secure, and with him, the only way to do that was to respond with the same actions. I had to prove that I was just as tough and strong as he was.
As a child, I found it hard to not let it out, and as a result, I was constantly told I needed to change. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have any friends. It was one of those things I was told I had to change in order to be loved. I never want to be that person. I don’t want to be that person that drives others away by her bitter and hardened heart. As a result, I find I’m overly accepting, forgiving and trusting, or so my true friends say. I allow people into my life who have no intentions other than to gain what they need or want, and I’m not comfortable in doing what I need to do to kick them out. I end up feeling like a bad person by doing so. It’s a double edged sword as I end up being extremely anxious that I’m doing something that turns me into him. My guilt will lay on my conscience and anxiety will be build as I start to feel shame, again eventually into a panic attack. It’s a vicious cycle.
At what point does protecting yourself turn into hardening and walling yourself off? At what point are you no longer a good person? At what point should you stop forgiving people, and no longer allow them the ability to? This is what I’m struggling with now.