The Mighty Logo

3 Short Poems From Shortly After My Worst Panic Attack

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Last year, I had my worst panic attack ever. It was so bad I couldn’t even read the following short poems I wrote shortly after it happened. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are familiar to me; the ripple effects, however, are ever-changing.

Phase I

This one starts as an itch.
An itch under my skin, one that won’t go away with a simple scratch.

Then, it grows.
It grows and spreads and multiplies. This incessant itch lives inside my chest, below my collar bones, where my ribs meet in the middle.
The itch gets heavy as its metastasizing and filling my entire chest cavity. My lungs are heavy, weighted. It’s all that occupies my thoughts.

I forget to breathe.
The lack of oxygen is almost refreshing because I can finally feel something that isn’t that stupid itch.

Phase II

This one starts in a haze.

It’s cloudy, it’s blurry, it’s muted and it’s lonely.

But I’m not alone, very far from it. Very far from anything and everything else.

From the outside, it’s an average Tuesday or Friday, or whatever day it is now. I’m speaking when spoken to, jumping when asked how high… but I’m detached. I’m not here.

Weaving in and out of this stream of consciousness, alert one second and gone the next. Applauded for a job well done. My hands don’t feel like my hands, my limbs are not my own. An hour later, I open my eyes. In the same place.With the same people.
Doing the same things…
…but something is missing.

Oh, time.
The last 60 minutes.

Phase III

Space Cadet.
Waves of sadness.
Overcome and underwhelmed.
Wide awake, exhausted.
Living on cruise control, working on autopilot.

A day passes.
A week passes.
We’re still here.


While everyone experiences some level of anxiety, not everyone has an anxiety disorder. For those with anxiety disorders, anxiety can become so severe and persistent, it interferes with their daily life and functioning. Anxiety disorder symptoms include excessive worry, panic attacks and other physical symptoms including shortness of breath, nausea, headaches and tremors. Join our online anxiety support groups and connect with people who get it.

Photo by Alaric Duan on Unsplash

Originally published: April 3, 2019
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home