You're Okay: Inside the Mind of a Panic Attack

My heart races, and my thoughts along with it. My hands tremble so much that I can barely even type words. I am short on breath and completely undone. 

There’s this feeling in my head, in my heart, like doom is…nigh. Not just my doom. But the end of the world. The actual apocalypse. And I haven’t chosen my side. I don’t know if I’m on the side of good or evil — do I even know which is which anymore?

Pause. Take a beat.

Take a breath.

Jump in the shower and I tell myself over and over that I am okay. That I am okay. That I need to calm down. Just take a few deep breaths. Calm yourself. You are okay. There is nothing wrong with you.

Nothing.

Wrong.

With.

You.

Inhale.

Exhale.

Exhale.

Exhale.

You're out of breath. You can't exhale anymore. Your lungs burn. You need air! Help, I — I need air, and I don't know how to —

Oh, right. Inhale. Inhale. Inhale.

Too much air. Let it out. 

Let it out in an exhale, and don't forget to inhale again.

You will be okay. You will be okay. You will be okay.

Exhale.

This, too, shall pass. Through the valley of death. You will be okay.

Inhale.

You're okay, you're okay, you're okay.

Exhale.

Process your thoughts: I am stressed because of money; I am fearful for the future; I am lonely; I do not know where I stand with God; I need to find an apartment; I am 25 and I am not who I thought I would be 10 years ago, when I thought 25 would bring romantic love and professional success and being skinny and traditionally beautiful and confident — confidence, that thing I hankered for at 15 and couldn't — quite — grasp.

I am not where I thought I would be, and that is panic-inducing, and that is disappointing.

But I...like where I am.

No, scratch that: I like who I am. I mean, sure, I'm super flawed — so flawed — holy crap, so many flaws — but I don't...I don't hate myself. Not like I used to. 

Not like I feared I always would.

I do not have romantic love or professional success, nor am I skinny or traditionally beautiful, but I like myself and am confident in that and — and so it's okay.

You're breathing again, on your own, without telling yourself how to.

That's nice. 

I still feel like the world is ending. I still have all those problems above. I am still scared and lonely and worried and lonely and stressed and lonely and —

Shh. Just breathe.

You're okay.