This Poet’s Step-by-Step Instructions for How to Have a ‘Perfect’ Panic Attack


What does it feel like to have the “perfect” panic attack? Poet Patrick Roche, at the 2015 National Poetry Slam in Oakland, California, explains in a powerful performance recently released by Button Poetry.

As if reading an instruction manual, Roche takes you through a panic attack step-by-step.

Find a trigger,” he begins in the video below. “A job interview, claustrophobia, mass transit, deciding what to have for dinner. It will help if you have a chornic condition — severe depression, an anxiety disorder, asthma. This is ideal, but may not be possible for everyone.”

Then, playing with the concept of a “perfect” panic attack, he explains what it’s like until the panic attack is complete.

You can watch his performance below. The poem does allude to self-harm, which might be triggering for some.

Related: What It’s Like to Have a Panic Attack, From 24 People Who’ve Been There

If you or someone you know needs help, please visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.