wE'Re AlL mAd HeRe

Anxiety, Social Anxiety, Panic… and the rest!

Hey Tiger.. don’t panic

Today I learned a valuable lesson, or at least I’ve accepted one – everybody stumbles from time to time, EVERYBODY. But the truth is, it’s a lot harder to swallow when that someone is YOU.

I would say that I’m an experienced panic attack student. I recognise the signs and I understand the tactics that help. I haven’t been fooled by the ‘panic trick’ for a long time now.

But today I was knocked on my arse so hard it made my teeth rattle, (metaphorically). There was a strategy meeting at work and like other members of the team I was expected to give a short presentation about my plans for 2016. I’ve spoken in meetings before and while I was a little nervous the night before, I didn’t spot any waves on the horizon.

When I got on the train this morning I knew… when I got my coffee at Starbucks I knew… when I sat down at my desk I knew.. and when I was walking towards the meeting room, I sure as Hell freaking knew. “Winter is coming” whispered my subconscious (For the GOT fans) – in reality it screamed “OH MY GOD YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A PANIC ATTACK AND YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH IT!” How did I respond? In the sensible, accepting way, that I have done in the past? NOPE.. I did the worst possible thing and tried to ignore it… and when that didn’t work I tried to fight it. Both tactics failed miserably? Why? Because you can’t force your brain to do anything. Here’s an example “DON’T THINK ABOUT GIANT PURPLE BEES!!” – See.. it doesn’t work.

Despite my years of experience I basically did everything wrong, “you’ll be fine, don’t be stupid!” I told myself. “You just have to hold it together for ten minutes”

The Tiger: “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You won’t be able to string a sentence together. Your voice will tremble and you’ll blush. Everyone is going to stare at you. You need to get out NOW!”

Tbh, it didn’t help that I was the last person to give my presentation. I had a good hour of abuse and torture from the tiger.

A nice list of the physical symptoms:

·         Pounding heart (standard)
·         Sweating like a pig on a treadmill
·         Numb/heavy limbs
·         A general ‘spaced out’ feeling
·         An overwhelming urge to sh** myself (I didn’t)

By the time it was my turn to speak I was at breaking point, a place I haven’t been in almost a year. I actually thought in all seriousness “I can’t do this.. I just can’t. Make some excuse about feeling faint” – and I won’t lie, I nearly did. I was that distressed. I don’t know what changed my mind, but at the last second I just started talking. It wasn’t great – despite having some good ideas that I initially really wanted to share, I skipped through half the presentation with shaking hands and a pounding chest. I’d managed to keep the panic attack at bay, but only just.. and afterwards I felt genuinely sad and so disappointed in myself. I actually snuck off to the toilets to cry a little. My body was shattered too, like I’d run ten miles or fought a shire horse for the last carrot!

I HATE panic attacks and I can’t pretend otherwise. While crying in the toilets I thought “why can’t they just leave me alone.. haven’t I done enough?” BUT – then I realised that sh** happens and I wouldn’t think the same way if I had a cold.
Me: Why can’t the common cold just leave me alone?!
Doctor: Erm… because you’re human love and we all get them at least once a year. Why don’t you just focus on healing & take things as they go?

So as much as I want to spend the evening hiding and desperately fighting off thoughts such as; “What if they start happening all the time?” “What if you get ill again?” I’m going to let them in… why? Because it’ll help in the long run. It’s OK to be afraid and it’s OK not to be OK. Naturally I’m going to order pizza, drink half a bottle of wine and watch something awful (but so good) on TV like Pretty Little Liars.
Despite his abuse, I’m also going to invite the tiger onto the couch with me… it’s been a while and we need to get more acquainted again.

Maybe I’ll even read some of my own advice?


Categories: Panic Attacks

Tags: ,

14 replies

  1. This post is so relevant to me right now because I had my first panic attack for a while last night and it was HORRIBLE. I’m still feeling its effects today and I feel really down on myself. Thanks for sharing xx

  2. Do needed to read a post from you today, thank you & made me laugh too. You really do help me with my Anxiety & I always get excited when I get an email that you’ve posted something as it reminds me I’m not alone & I’m not stupid. Thanks so much. Xx

  3. You write really good advice, Claire, so I hope you found something to help you forgive yourself for being human. Be kind to yourself – and the tiger, too.

  4. Couldn’t you just tell your colleagues? Do you think that would have taken the pressure off you? ☺

  5. I feel your pain, I’ve had anxiety for years, it’s been ok for a while but flared up with a big ass panic attack today as well. I was browsing google and found your blog via the Guardian/Observer, it’s made me feel less alone in it so thank you, Cate x

  6. Beautifully written and so spot on for anyone who has been there. What we sometimes forget is that people who experience panic are quite courageous really and we are kind to someone else having an attack but often are harsh with ourselves…. rest well, re-charge and take that tiger for a walk.

  7. thank you claire, your posts are always so timely and so valued. hope you have had a restful evening x

  8. Fantastic post. It is SO confronting and crappy when you haven’t panicked in a while and it suddenly rears it’s ugly head again. It’s like you’ve almost forgotten what it feels like and then HI! REMEMBER ME?
    I have never considered thinking about it like a cold, though! You are so right, it really is just something that happens – sometimes you feel good, sometimes you feel bad. Thank you for the reality check – it was very timely for me!

  9. This is what I’m feeling like every time I talk in the presence of 4 or more people :/ Lately I’m beginning to take baby-steps by just talking anf focusing on went good afterwards but the tiger is always luring in the background like when you’re putting a desk together while your boss is right behind you commenting on every move. Keep going cause like you always say YOU are not alone 🙂

    • PS: I wanted to donate but sadly I have no credit card and thus also can’t sign up for a paypal account, is there any way to donate without having one? 😦


  1. That Monster Called Anxiety | The Scribble Bug

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