But what happens when one amplifies the other?
What happens when you become anxious about the fact that you have panic attacks? What happens when you begin to panic about the fact that you’re anxious?
Put simply, you end up stuck in a loop that’s rather difficult to dismantle. (It’s so meta.)
So, am I anxious about my first blog post?
Well, maybe. And when anxiety strikes, a little distraction can help.
To distract myself from the overwhelmingly blank canvas of the empty white page on which I’m typing, let’s direct our attention to the stock art lady in the blog header. You know, the blond-haired businesswoman grasping the paper bag. This one:
I’m fairly sure she’s practicing the old tried-and-true trick for hyperventilation: breathing into (and out of) a paper bag. It’s a classic symbol of anxiety and panic.
Of course, you could look at the image another way entirely: maybe she’s losing her lunch. (If so, at least she had a bag handy.)
Either way, both hyperventilation and stomach distress (to word it gently) are two key byproducts of anxiety and panic. You might be familiar with both of them. I might be familiar with both of them.
Okay, I am familiar with both of them.
And I’m familiar with plenty more: the lightheadedness. The racing heart. The palpitations. The shakes, the tingle-y hands and feet, the sweaty palms (and their sibling — the ice-cold hands).
My panic résumé boasts seven or eight years of experience. I had my first panic attack during my sophomore year of college in a dark dorm room, at night, long after everyone else had fallen asleep. I bolted out of bed with a racing heart, tingling limbs, and a head that didn’t quite feel attached to my neck.
Was it a stroke? Was it a heart attack? Was it some kind of seizure? I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, smiling unhappily. (The forced smile, of course, was to assess whether or not half of my face was drooping. Even after ten minutes of close examination, I couldn’t tell.)
And that was the beginning. Panic swooped down like a thief and stole my early twenties piece by piece.
If anxiety, panic, and/or agoraphobia have ever stolen anything from you, stay tuned. Bookmark this blog.
Let’s compare notes.