Something that I am very fortunate that I don't suffer from is Panic Disorder. Panic Disorder is; "where you have recurring and regular panic attacks, often for no apparent reason. Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times during their lifetime. It's a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations. However, for someone with panic disorder, feelings of anxiety, stress and panic occur regularly and at any time." (NHS Choices) I have had panic attacks before, some much worse than others but they all happen for a reason.
Panic disorder must be such a debilitating and stressful mental illness to live with, especially if you don't know what is causing your panic attacks. Which isn't to say any other mental illness isn't equally as stressful or debilitating. When you have had a panic attack or are having a panic attack, it can be very easy for everyone around you to tell you to breathe and stay calm but when you feel like you are about to die, this can be easier said than done. I know these people are only trying to do their best but can they really understand what you are going through?
Bridie raises this question brilliantly. In this week's #SpeakUp post. Can friends, relatives or even medical professionals understand what a panic attack feels like if they never had one? Sure, we all have feelings of anxiety every now and again, but a panic attack is a lot more than just feeling a bit sick or worried. If you suffer from anxiety, panic disorder or have had a panic attack before, I hope you find reassurance in Bridie's fantastic post. Enjoy!
As someone who suffers from mental health issues, I’ve seen enough therapists, psychiatrist and health experts to know that not everyone truly understands the experience of a panic attack. They may have had years of training and great knowledge about anxiety but can they TRULY understand if they’ve never had to experience it for themselves?
What really is a panic attack, though? The dictionary definition of a panic attack is described as ‘a sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety’ and I think that sums it up in a sentence very well. However, I think panic attacks are different for everyone, and everybody has their own description of a panic attack. For me, it’s an overwhelming sensation of fear and panic, the feeling of no control over my own body along with bodily symptoms like nausea and dizziness.
Panic attacks are not something that one can control; you cannot make them come or make them go away. I describe it as a wave, overtaking my body, and there’s no way I can stop it, I just have to ride it out and wait for it to pass.
Do you really need to of experienced a panic attack to know how it feels, though, it sounds pretty self- explanatory to me? One may think that and really the symptoms of a panic are very easy to understand, we all know what it feels like to be a little bit scared. What is difficult to understand is that it isn’t just feeling a little bit sick and a little bit scared, it’s feeling so frightened that you might die or the struggle as you’re hyperventilating, and no one even knows you’re suffering as from the outside you look completely normal.
You cannot understand what it feels like to one minute feel absolutely fine and the next minute scared for your life or waking up in the middle of the night furiously shaking. You end up living your life in discomfort, either because little everyday things send you into a panic attack or you’re constantly waiting for the next attack to happen. It’s a vicious cycle that ends up making you miserable. People struggle to understand that most of the time it’s not just a one-time thing or something that happens to you occasionally, for some people, it’s a weekly if not a daily occurrence that in-turn takes over your life.
My conclusion? No, I don’t think you can ever truly understand what a panic attack is like unless you have experienced one yourself. You can know everything about panic attacks, what causes them and the symptoms and what not but I don’t believe you can learn about the way it debilitates and controls your entire life and the thoughts that occur when experiencing a panic attack.
Let me know in the comments or send me a tweet about your thoughts on the topic!
I hope you’ve all enjoyed my post and thank you to the wonderful Nicole for letting me share my views on her blog!
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Lots of love,
I hope you enjoyed this post, and if you know someone who suffers from panic attacks or you suffer from panic attacks yourself, this post has provided you some reassurance or has informed you more about anxiety/ panic attacks. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments, down below!
If you would like to write a post, similar to this for the #SpeakUp project about anything that affects young people's health and wellbeing, do not hesitate to contact me via Twitter or email.
Thank you for reading, as always X