What a Panic Attack Feels Like

Even though panic attacks are unique in the fear and helplessness they cause, there are some things to which they can be compared for clarity’s sake. So, here is my list of things a panic attack feels like.

Hummingbirds filling your body.

When your heart is racing and your pulse thrums just under your skin, you can get this surreal feeling up a million little wings beating around inside of you. Those little birds flit and fly through your veins, brush against your muscles, and flutter within your chest cavity until you want to reach in and rip them out.

Someone shaking you mercilessly.

My biggest problem with panic attacks is the way my body shakes and convulses during a particularly bad one. It’s not just little shivers and shudder. It is noticeable, uncontrollable, debilitating trembling that keeps me from even standing up straight. It’s like someone has just grabbed you by the shoulders and is shaking you until your teeth feel ready to fall out.

Your body drawing into your center.

Every tendon and muscle tightens like a guitar string. Your knuckles go white. Your jaw clenches. Someone or something has grasped the strings that lead to your edges and is jerking them in toward a spot just beneath your chest. All you can wonder is when those strings will finally snap.

A whirlwind buffeting you from inside. 

The main image I get for this one is when I’m shaking so violently and crying with such pitiful force that I just start whipping my head around and sending my hair bouncing around my face. Contrary to the comparison I made a moment ago, this one feels like your pieces are being forced out, and you’ll soon fall into a heap of bits and parts with no clear function.

Your heart is a switch flipped at random.

Probably the absolute worst thing having to do with panic attacks is how utterly random they can be. While I have certain triggers, other times I can suffer an attack out of the blue. It’s horrible because when someone later asks what set it off, you feel so ashamed because you don’t know. You don’t know, and you feel like you were overreacting or being dramatic or that something is irrevocably wrong with you. But that’s just it, they can come from nowhere. More like panic ambushes than foreseeable attacks.

So, these are five things I think accurately describe the feeling of a panic attack. Notice that most of them have to do with your inner workings being affected. That’s because a panic attack is rooted in how your mind and insides work together. No one is hitting you and leaving a panic attack impressed on your chest.

The impression is from the attack pushing out.

Contests and Possible Ideas

One of my goals for the new year (I refuse to call them resolutions) was to prepare and send out more of my writing.

It’s not so much a fear of someone reading and disliking my work that keeps me from submitting but rather the subconscious idea that if I never submit I never have to deal with that rejection. (Plus I am the world’s best procrastinator.)

So, to try to remedy this problem, I am going to write, edit, and submit a piece to Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Contest. Maximum of 3,000 words in any genre and due by the end of the month. I’m on a bit of a time crunch, as you can tell, so I thought I would approach my readers for a little help.

I am absolutely terrible at deciding on an idea. Below I have a few possible ideas. If you could, please leave me a comment with which one you think I should run with. Then, from today until I submit the piece, I will keep a running record of my progress and thoughts on my personal writing process for anyone who may be curious.

The Ideas:

  1. A godling — small-time god — develops feelings for a human despite his belief that no one notices the small miracles he performs for them.
  2. While changing her car battery, a woman struggles over her sense of self after graduating from medical school with no real feeling of accomplishment.
  3. A teenage relationship from the point of view of the girl’s car.

If you could please spare a moment and drop a number in the comments, I would much appreciate it. Thanks and have a great day, lovelies!

Things That Make You Feel Like The Best Person On Earth

Letting the wind blow through your hair and not caring about whether or not it gets messed up. It may be harder to give up your worry about unruly, windswept hair if you like to keep yours long, but when I walked to my neighborhood park I kept my head up and reveled in the way my hair fluttered against my forehead and temples. There is something utterly freeing about keeping your hands by your sides and just letting the wind play in your carefully quaffed locks. And if you imagine yourself as some windblown traveler cresting a grassy hill at sunrise, it feels pretty damn great.

Belting the lyrics to a song when you’re outside, and no one is around. Here are some instructions for you. When it is mid-afternoon, and most people are at work or school, if you can, go outside to your closest park. While you head that way, turn on your iPod or other personal music player and pick a song with raw, loud notes. (Personal preference from today is “Babel” by Mumford & Sons.) Then, even if there are joggers on the street or cars rolling past, turn your face up to the sky and sing as loud as possible. Bonus feelings of awesome if you dance around like you’re in a music video.

Sitting at the top of a slide and looking around slowly. I know it sounds weird, but go with me on this one. Think about it. You’re at the top of a slide, your legs folded just right, and the whole street curves out in front of you like a gray river. Then, like some quiet sentinel, you gaze out over your domain and sweep your eyes from left to right, taking in each and every piece of your surroundings. I can practically hear the crows cawing in the distance, and they sound amazing.

Reading a piece of fiery writing. Is there a certain topic you’re passionate about or want to be? Politics, the environment, technology, feminism. There are so many great books, magazines, and articles out there meant to stoke the fire in you and move you to action. And what feels better than feeling moved to do something amazing? My suggestion is that you go out and look for those selections of writing and let the author’s words seep into your core until you simply cannot stay idle.

Wearing something that makes you feel great. Is there a certain way you do your makeup that makes you feel fierce? Do you have a pair of boots that intensify your strut? What about a jacket that looks good and feels great? Put on something you love and admire yourself in the mirror. You look awesome and now you can go out and show it.