Understanding That My Anxiety Attacks Aren't 'the Norm'


When people hear the words “anxiety attack,” the first place their mind goes is to what most people know as the symptoms of a panic attack: hyperventilation, heart racing and shaking uncontrollably. While they might be the case sometimes for some people, these symptoms are by no means “the norm.”

For the most part, panic and anxiety don’t really follow a pattern, either in various people or one person, so it’s hard to explain anxiety or panic attacks. The best thing you can do is understand that everyone is different and everyone experiences certain things differently. We have to accept that not all people experience things like we see in movies and TV shows.

When I first started having anxiety attacks, I didn’t even know what they were. I thought the things I was feeling were sickness, which looking back makes a lot of sense. My anxiety attacks are usually characterized by a headache and a stomachache, and those symptoms are sometimes accompanied by dizziness, shortness of breath or nausea. And while that is the case most of the time, that doesn’t mean I can’t be caught off guard by a different symptom or an out of place anxiety attack.

Anxiety is scary. I won’t try to argue it is something we can grow accustomed to and get rid of like you do a head cold. Anxiety attacks are terrifying, though I may not speak for everyone because I cannot be made to represent every single person who deals with similar things to what I deal with.

It’s complicated. I know it is. It’s hard to learn all the triggers and symptoms and ways to help people who are struggling with this. It’s hard to be able to hear someone’s irrational fears and comfort them. But I can assure you, it’s much harder to deal with all our irrational fears on our own, so please, don’t leave us to our own devices.

 We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via vitapix


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


Related to Anxiety

Handsome young African man in cap and sunglasses standing against the stoned wall and looking away

'Fake It 'Til You Make It' Takes on a New Meaning When You Have 'High-Functioning' Anxiety

It’s 10:30 p.m. on a Thursday night. Our family of five had pretty much settled in for the evening since it was getting towards the typical bedtime. My brother and sister were relaxing in their rooms, my dad routinely ended his day with the latest SportsCenter reel and a nice glass of scotch after he [...]
A woman with butterflies in her stomach

Anya Anti's Surreal and Beautiful Photo Depicts This Physical Symptom of Anxiety

Sometimes people forget the ways anxiety can affect you physically, but those who experience it know how its symptoms can move beyond your mind. Back pain, headaches, racing heart and that fluttering feeling in your tummy that is sometimes described as having “butterflies in your stomach.” Photo artist Anya Anti knows the feeling, and brought it [...]
A woman

How I Had the ‘Best Anxiety Attack Ever’

My heart started pounding. I suddenly felt sick to my stomach. This was the beginning of an anxiety attack. I grabbed a plastic grocery bag from the kitchen in case I needed to vomit and sat down on the couch with my head in my hands. I tried to count as I exhaled and inhaled [...]
sketch of a woman

When Anxiety Tries to Cancel My Plans

I’m standing in front of the bathroom mirror. I lean close to put on a final coat of mascara. Soon, I’ll be pulling out of the driveway to meet a friend for frozen yogurt. Soon, I’ll be filling up a cup with swirling flavors and sprinkling on toppings. Soon, I’ll be sitting at a table [...]