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What it feels like to have a panic attack

Hi guys,

Another personal blogpost because of something I’ve experienced two days ago.

So, you all know that I’ve been struggling with anxiety for my whole life. Especially on stressful moments like exams/evaluations, I used to freak out. Yesterday, I felt overwhelmed by an awful feeling again. I was experiencing a panic attack. The good thing now is that I finally learned how to deal with them so after a couple of minutes, I was able to calm myself down. If you want to know everything about how I manage to do this: I already blogged about it. So here’s the link.

I’ll tell you guys very short how I calm myself down for those of you who don’t know it yet: I meditate. Meditation to me is the most powerful thing to block my mind from bad thoughts. So when I’m feeling stressed, I calm myself down with closing my eyes and really focus on my breathing so that I don’t start to hyperventilate as I used to. Even while driving in the car, I can meditate. I just focus on my breathing to calm myself down, without losing control and without losing my focus because in traffic that could be dangerous of course. It takes quite a long time to learn how to meditate and to do it right... So you'll really have to learn it.

This blog is nog going to be about how to fix anxiety, this is different for everyone. I’m just sharing with you guys how it really feels to have a panic attack. This is also a different experience for everyone, but there are a few symptoms in common for everyone. I’m writing this blog because some of my friends never really understood me and didn’t believe my actual feeling. So I’m sharing my story with you all, to let you know that you’re not alone and this feeling can happen to anyone. We are not lying when we think that our hearts are beating too fast, that we’re feeling so sick, that we can make ourselves throw up,... the important note is that we’re especially not crazy. We really do feel all of this, it's not only in our heads. Panic attacks happen in your mind but find a way out through your body.

So first I’m sharing how it feels for me, later I’ll share some common medical symptoms…

For me it’s not the fact anymore that I don’t feel it coming, it used to be super overwhelming for me. I do feel that it’s coming, that the attack is going to happen…. So the good thing for me now is that I know when to take care of my breathing, so that I don’t get attacks anymore. But before, I didn’t feel the attacks coming so it felt super overwhelming. I’m not lying that I used to think that I was freaking out and that I was crazy as hell. I thought that I felt so sick that I could need to go to the ER.

So here’s my thoughts and my personal symptoms.

I always hyperventilate when I’m having a panic attack. My breathing stops and my heart hurts. When I touch my chest, to feel my heart, it’s racing like crazy. Also a tip: DO NOT feel at your heart because the racing can make you even feel worse. I used to think that my heart was going to explode and by thinking about that, I even freaked out more.

I feel super extremely cold and my entire body shakes. I can still have that feeling now. After driving the car (which is still pretty scary to me), my hands shake like crazy from the anxiety. I’m sweating like a pig, but I’m freezingly cold. It’s such a weird feeling. So when I had exams, I always used to wear an extra thick scarf, so that I could cover my hands when I was feeling cold but also take it off when I was sweating too much.

As told before, I also feel super ill. This is my strongest symptom because it happens every single time… I’m super nauseous and feel like I could throw up. A couple of times, I made myself so ill, that I actually threw up. And this is also a bad thing. Because when you’re in a public space and you feel sick, you can only think about how long it would take to find a bathroom to be able to throw up. You can only think about this feeling and the need to escape from this place. BUT it’s of course way more important to focus on your breathing again instead of making your head crazy…

And last but not least for me the feeling of losing control. I feel like I’m losing from life and myself. I’m feeling not strong enough to overcome myself. I’m afraid of not being able to find a bathroom, so that I’ throw up in front of the entire classroom… I’m afraid that people would see me freaking out without any reason so that they’d think that I’m just crazy and totally overreacting,…. But now I’ve learned to talk to myself and tell myself that I’m not crazy and that this attack just takes a couple of minutes and then it’s over again.

So this was all about how I feel and what I experience.. Here are some common medical symptoms to give you guys a clear idea of what it can be like to experience a panic attack.

  • Shortness of breath or hyperventilation

  • Heart palpitations or racing heart

  • Chest pain or discomfort

  • Trembling or shaking

  • Choking feeling

  • Feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings

  • Sweating

  • Nausea or upset stomach

  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, or faint

  • Numbness or tingling sensations

  • Hot or cold flashes

  • Fear of dying, losing control, or going crazy

Have you ever experienced this too? Then maybe you need to do something about it because it's not healthy. You can always go to a doctor, a therapist,... for more information. And if you want to learn how to deal with them, then search for the right method that fits you. For me it's meditation but it can be different for you.

Thanks for reading this blog, i hope that you feel less alone now. It DOES happen to all of us and we're NOT crazy. We can overcome this!

X Steph


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