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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.

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Thinkstock photo via vitapix