“ANXIETY ATTACKS: Intense feelings of fear, doom, foreboding, and gloom; a sudden urgency to escape, run away, or get out; the fear that you may lose control of your thoughts and actions; dizziness; nausea and vomiting; a feeling like you might pass out; trembling or shakiness; weakness; difficulty breathing; pounding or racing heart; hot or cold flashes; chest pain; hands and feet may feel numb; you may be lightheaded or woozy; irrational thoughts, and a number of other physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms.”
“What exactly is anxiety? What does it actually feel like?” These are the questions I get asked the most, and honestly I don’t have a perfect answer. Anxiety comes in many different forms. Some people struggle secretly on a daily basis. Others, like myself, have physical symptoms that can be extremely scary.
When I begin to experience an anxiety attack the first symptom I notice is heart palpitations. I’m an RN so this is really scary for me because I go from 0 to 100 real quick. This was especially scary before I truly understood my anxiety.
I was officially diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety in 2007 at 17 years old. At the time I thought it was a phase, just typical struggles of a high school student with way to much stress. However, the older I got the more I began to realize that anxiety is very real.
I experienced a lot of small attacks during high school, but again I brushed them off. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that I endured my worst attack to date.
I was sitting in one of my nursing classes with 40 other students. I was listening to the lecture when all of the sudden my heart began to race uncontrollably. I tried to quietly calm myself down, but after 2 minutes I could tell something was wrong.
I sat my head down on my desk because I began to feel like I was going to pass out. My friend looked over and asked if I was okay and told me I was looking pale. I couldn’t even respond to her because my mouth couldn’t form words.
I finally stood up and walked out of the classroom. Everyone was staring at me (including the teacher), but I didn’t care. I simply knew I had to get out of there. My friend followed me, brought my stuff and called my dad to come pick me up.
My dad immediately raced to the school and took me to the hospital. There they performed a series of tests (EKG’s, ECHO’s, etc). After a few hours they determined I’d experienced an anxiety attack and sent me home with medication.
There are no words to describe how scared I felt that day. If it wasn’t for the support of my family I don’t know what I would’ve done. Since then I’ve only had one other major attack. However, this time I was able to talk myself through it.
After extensively researching and understanding anxiety, I decided to write a poem to document that moment in my life. Writing and music are the best ways I know how to express myself. I thought if just one person could realize that this is an actual disorder, everything I’ve experienced would be worth it.
ANXIOUS, ANXIOUS REMEDY
“My mind feels like it’s beaten down, My soul feels ripped and torn
My heart is worn and fading fast, My body starts to mourn
My muscles tense and then they quake, My eyes drag to the ground
My mouth can merely utter words, My ears don’t hear a sound
My nose no longer smells the scents, Tears flood my washed out face
My hair is dull and brittle, My thoughts just run in place
My fingers tap the surface, as I sing a frantic tune
A glossy layer coats my face, My brain starts to assume
I feel my stomach rumble, With doubts of every kind
My knees begin to buckle, Both my eyes go blind
My limbs shake uncontrollably, My skin creeps and it crawls
My eyelids start to flutter, I try hard not to fall
The anxiety completes its course, This time I have survived
Yet I always seem to wonder, When it will once again arrive
It doesn’t even matter now, This battle I have won
But the war will carry on for life, The end may never come.”
So if someone comes to you battling anxiety, please don’t turn them away. Educate yourself, and help them in any way you can. You would be surprised to learn that simply listening, talking through it, and physically being there for them makes all the difference in the world. Be the rock that they’re needing in that moment.
For those of you who join me in the struggle of anxiety, I say a special prayer for you. I pray peace, love, and healing for your soul. There will be dark days ahead, but remember they’re only for a moment. Don’t let anxiety control your life. Always remember that this is YOUR life, and you are not alone.