Anxiety and Panic – it’s no joke.

 

We’re not just talking about nerves, or even being scared. We’re talking about utter terror – panic.

 

We’re talking about the anxiety and panic that stands in front of you, bearing its teeth, poking you, screaming at you, until you listen to its words; those words that instil a black cloud that hangs over your head, threatening to rain, hail, and thunderstorm on you at any minute.

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That constant stream of consciousness tells you that something terrible is going to happen at any minute, that you should stay aware, on edge, despite there being no apparent threat at the time.

 

Living with anxiety and/or panic is absolutely exhausting. It’s a battle, every second of every day to keep your head above the water, and it’s a journey that I take daily.

 

My first panic attack was terrifying. I’d never felt so much at once. My chest felt heavy and tight, my throat – like someone had me in a death-grip, my palms – clammy and shaky, my breathing – what breathing? My heart racing. I thought that I was going to die. I believed I was going to die.

 

I can remember that day like it was yesterday, and frankly, if I think about it too much, I can start to evoke those feelings all over again.

 

During that time, I got caught in a vicious circle of panicking about the panic; inducing panic attacks through fear of having another, which only reinforced the fear. I stayed in bed for two weeks straight – the only time I didn’t feel so panicked was when I was sleeping. When I woke from my sleep, I’d mentally check myself over, thinking ‘oh, I’m okay,’ I’d get out of bed, only to find that creeping anxiety rising like bile from my stomach to my chest, at which point, I went back to bed.

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“This is serious, you are dying.”

 

“Maybe you have cancer”

 

“I can’t bear this anymore”

 

“I’d rather be dead than feel this way.”

 

These were the constant thoughts running at a million miles per hour through my brain, all day, every day. I found myself sat in front of a doctor who told me that she thought I had GAD (generalised anxiety disorder). I was no stranger to mental illness, I had periods of depression, and if I’m honest, I don’t think the depression ever left me, I just found ways to paper over the cracks. But anxiety? This was entirely different.

 

With depression, I felt deep sorrow or, often, I felt nothing at all. With anxiety, I felt everything all at once. Everything was amplified, and my terror, that acute fear, I had absolutely no idea where it came from. I couldn’t identify any triggers at all.

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I worked hard on myself, using the power of the written word every day. Even if it was just a short piece. I wrote that pain, that panic, numbness, sorrow, regret, shame – I wrote it all on a page. Sometimes I’d delete it, other times I’d share it online, which was my version of watching the piece of paper I’d written on, burn.

 

This became standard practice for many years and my coping mechanism. I sometimes now have days where I don’t feel that fear. In fact, I feel panic less now than I ever used to. I can go weeks without even thinking about panic. Sure, I have bad days, but they’re just that, days. Rather than weeks, months of suffering, they are days that are few and far between.

 

Through the darkest moments of my life, I found strength. I found purpose. Words. They have single handedly become my therapy and the main reason we set up PoetsIN.

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If you are reading this in times of crisis or times of darkness, I want to tell you that you are courageous. You may be blanketed by mental illness, but you are surviving. You exist. I know how hard breathing is when you reach those days of isolation within your mind. But you’re doing it and through simply doing it, you are on a path to find the strength you thought didn’t exist within you.

 

Write. You don’t have to be Shakespeare. Write a diary. Write a poem. Write the sentences that your mind has made mantras. Just write. It will pass. I promise.

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Discussion

  • Commenter's Avatar
    Soulhearts — October 9, 2017 at 4:35 am

    You have made PoetsIn possible because of your determination to overcome. You have opened your heart to giving back; to letting others know they can also overcome. Well done Sammie! More power to PoetsIn. I am happy to be a part of the PoetsIn journey! 😘❤️💐

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