My head is the loudest place on Earth. There’s not a moment when it’s quiet, when it’s calm, when it’s settled. I’ve got a thousand questions looping around, tormenting me day in and day out.
“Why would you do that?”
“Why would you think that?”
“Why did you just say that?”
“Are you stupid or something?”
“How is anyone going to like you now?”
“Why aren’t I good enough?”
“Why do you even bother?”
“Why do I feel like this?”
“Why can’t I stop it?”
They swirl around and around and as they do my heartbeat quickens, my mouth gets dry and my palms get sweaty. I can feel the world begin to spin and I become helpless, an observer lost in the cycle, forced to watch the whole scene play out while I can’t do a thing to stop it. I get lightheaded and my eyes begin to tear up — it’s happening again. It gets harder and harder to breathe as another small voice from deep within begins to speak.
The questions keep swirling getting louder and louder to match my heartbeat.
Now the questions are joined by insults.
“You really are ‘stupid.’”
“No wonder nobody wants to be your friend.”
“You really don’t deserve to be happy.”
“Nobody cares about you.”
“They are all just using you.”
“You really are ‘crazy.’”
They keep going and going. Suddenly every fear, every insecurity I’ve ever had in my life are brought to mind all at once, and it suffocates me like someone reached down my throat and yanked those fears up from my chest and now they are stuck.
But it doesn’t listen and there’s no stopping it now.
I find a place that feels comfortable — someplace quiet, away from everything else. In my bed with the blankets pulled up, or in the closet with my knees curled up, I reach for comfort — something that will help me to feel grounded.
It’s a full-blown panic attack now; I’m hyperventilating and it feels like I’m having a heart attack and that scares me even more. I’ve completely lost touch with anything happening around me. I’m stuck in this whirlwind and it’s spinning and spinning and I’m getting more and more out of control with every breath.
Everything that’s been stressing me out lately is all coming flooding back to me. My job, my relationships, my finances, my whole entire life — every single thing that made me nervous, every little mistake I ever made — I am overwhelmed by it all. Then I start thinking about all the times I’ve failed or about how I am just not good enough.
It doesn’t seem possible, but my heartbeat and my breathing are still getting faster. Now I’m shaking and the sweating won’t let up.
“Am I ‘crazy?’”
“If I’m doing this to myself, why can’t I just stop?”
I start to wonder if there is someone in my life who can stop this for me, so I start to think about all the most important people in my life, about that one person who I care for just a bit more than the others. For a brief second, I can take a regular breath. But this doesn’t last either because then I start to feel like maybe this person doesn’t really care about me and even worse maybe they are secretly trying to get back at me for something.
My head starts to swirl that around for a bit. Now I’m really freaking out.
“What if I lose this person?”
“What if I never really had this person?”
“What if they never cared for me at all?”
“What if this is all a joke to them?”
I try to remind myself that I’m not in a good place right now — that this is an anxiety attack and it’s going to go away. But anxiety doesn’t let me believe that, of course. So instead I think about how I’m alone and I’m drowning and there is no way out.
I know I should stay away from my phone. I tell myself not to send that message. It’s completely irrational and ridiculous and I know it’s going to push that person further away from me, the very last thing I want, the very last thing I need.
But I do it anyway. I start to type out that message and it releases something, it feels good. I take the blame away from me — it’s no longer my head that’s causing all this, it’s their fault! So, I push and I push, I accuse my person of being out to destroy me, to hurt me. They don’t understand it, where this is coming from — how on earth they could have possibly done the things I said. But I can’t believe them, no matter how many times they deny my accusations.
I can see it all happening like I’m outside my body — like it’s all a really bad dream. Unfortunately, I can’t wake up and I can’t stop it. All I can do is watch as I destroy everything that mattered. Sometimes this cycle will continue for days until that person I care so much for finally snaps, saying: “Are you fucking ‘crazy?’”
And it stops. Maybe I am.
My heart sinks because I did it again. I find my back inside my body once again and it feels so damn heavy. That heaviness sinks like a boulder to the pit of my stomach and I feel like I want to vomit — there’s no going back, there’s no undo button.
I feel the loss right away, even if that person sticks around for this to happen a few more times, each time I’m pushing them further and further away. Now I’m heartbroken and devastated because I’ve lost the one person I couldn’t bear to lose. It plays over and over in my mind and all I want is a chance to undo all that but it’s too late — the damage is done.
This happens again and again and again. Each time I see it, I know exactly what the result is going to be and there’s nothing I can do, no matter how much work I put in to try and get a handle on my anxiety.
It just keeps coming back.
We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.
Thinkstock photo via markp73