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What It's Like to Experience a Panic Attack 'Hangover'


The next morning…

I don’t mean one of those where you wake up wondering why your pants are hanging from the middle of the zipline. This morning still comes with a hangover. Can I coin a term here? I’m going to call it an “attack-over” (brainstorming still in progress) — the morning after a panic attack. Lets chat here. Once again, I want to state that the goal of writing (besides being incredibly therapeutic for me) is education and support. This isn’t to scare or worry anyone. 

So, you wake up having slept like a rock. Once you finally gain slow enough breaths and the shakes settle, your body crashes into the sleep it so badly needs. It’s an odd sensation, I think, to be so exhausted and stationary, too heavy to move, yet you can’t sleep. Go run up a hill at noon in the middle of a Nebraska July and tell me how you feel. Exhausted? You betcha. Thinking about sleep once you reach the top? Not exactly. It’s a different kind of tired. I knew it was coming, which is often even more terrifying than the “I’m going to die here” ideation. Increased sleeping, decreased appetite — I know the symptoms like I know the 4-H pledge

The next morning always feels like a hangover — mortified of what you did and said, no idea where your clothes are, damp sheets from the sweat, desperately in search of a glass of water and your myriad of pills. You also know that the state of last night is going to linger to the next few days, wanting to creep up the next night. I am in complete debt of those who pull me through time and time again. You know how “pathetic” you sounded and it’s a double edged sword if you reached out. If you didn’t, then who knows the outcome. But you did, which means someone witnessed you in the most vulnerable state. First of all, good work. Second — and this is me coming to terms with myself — those who love you enough to watch you shake aren’t going anywhere. I’ve lost friends over this illness. It’s straight up annoying for me to deal with the wearied cycle that is mental illness and certainly seems even more so for those being dragged along. At this point, I’m certain some just aren’t going anywhere. This is my soap box for reaching out. If you know what I’m talking about: I’m so sorry, dear. If not: oh man, am I jealous.

I know you’re exhausted and there are dirty Kleenexes on the floor and you wish you could stay in bed for the next week being allowed to grieve, but the damn little bugger called life is going on, and you’ve got work. There’s also a strange smell coming from you. Go take a stinkin’ shower. Here’s what I’m going to tell myself and you: please just keep breathing on.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who matter don’t care and those who care don’t matter.” — My favorite flag raising thought of the day.

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Thinkstock photo via fizkes