The Mighty Logo

What It's Like to Be Dissociated While Having a Panic Attack

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I remember acting like a wild animal, unable to fully focus on anything but one thing. I could hear nothing but screaming and my throat hurt more than I thought it ever could. Knives dug into my bones until I was sobbing with pain, unable to control anything in my body. I felt like I was floating out of my own body, helpless like an innocent bystander watching someone get pummeled by a car over and over, seeing the same result and never able to change it. Like stone, my body was still as I looked into my own cold, blue eyes as they drained of life.

I had never dissociated so badly.

Sobs wracked my body and bruises dotted my skin like a discolored polka dot dress, each one a different shade of pain. Snot ran down my cheeks and mixed with tears, and I started to lose feeling in my fingers as I pulled the messy, matted strands of colored hair that surrounded my field of vision. My body was freezing and too hot at the same time, and I wanted to just let go enough to stop going “crazy” in my “safe space,” if you could even call it that. I constantly panicked and shifted my body when I was able because I kept thinking I wasn’t even touching, but instead, just floating in a heap of blankets a little to the left of my bed. I had scratch marks up my arms and legs, and I thought my ribs would rip out of my body.

I’m scared. I don’t like this. I can’t do this.

I waited for so long to feel safe, and it never came. A little bedroom with white walls and a queen-sized bed, typically messy, now a complete warzone with all the screams just coming from my small lungs.

Have you ever dissociated while having a panic attack?

It’s the equivalent of being choked and lifted in the air, all the life draining out of you. That’s what it was like for me.

Panic attacks were common when I dissociated and still are at times. I was worried that if I told anyone, I’d be “insane.” Mentally unstable and unable to live in harmony.

I was scared I’d never get out of my own head.

And sometimes, I can’t.

But you’ll always find a way to help yourself heal.

I promise.

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

Getty Images photo via KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Originally published: March 26, 2018
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