A Wide Open Letter To: Anybody Who Has Witnessed a Panic Attack

To those who have seen me acting completely irrationally or have watched me suffer from severe anxiety:

Do you think that I don’t know that I’m too intelligent to be worrying about things that are this small, or this insanely unreasonable?

Believe me, I know I am too smart to worry, to panic… to let my unruly emotions get the best of me. It actually makes me feel worse; it makes me worry more, about my own sanity, knowing that I’m too intelligent for this. The whole time that I’m chasing, attempting to catch, my shortness of breath, I know you’re probably judging me. I am judging me, too.

But the way I feel– it takes over and trumps my ability to reason. More specifically, I maintain my ability to reason and I can still know, logically, that what I’m freaking out about does not make any sense to you, because it barely makes sense to me. But I lose the ability for that to outweigh the terror of my feelings. I’m falling into a hole with no foot holes, no rope. It’s dark down here. I will never be able to see the light again, probably, and I will never be able to climb out of this depth. Nothing will ever make me feel happy, or better, or like myself again. That’s how I feel; that’s the frightening plunge my heart is taking, and there’s no way I can talk –  or think – myself out of it.

And moreover, there’s no way you can talk me out of it, either. Telling me to calm down, like it’s that easy, is the stupidest thing you can say at that point. Don’t you wish I could? Don’t you think I would if I could?

But I can’t. It’s taking over my every nerve, and I know there’s a secret word or phrase, “open sesame!” or something that might make me feel better. But for every phrase that works, there’s a phrase that makes it worse; wording I can pull apart and tear to shreds.

It’s really best to not say anything at all. Being there for me (and not worrying about me, or judging me, or liking me less), really does help.

And I guess to those who weren’t there (and worried about me, and judged me, and liked me less), and who thought that my severe anxiety makes me more difficult, you’re right. It does.

But to those who know that I’m worth it, because I feel the world that much more intensely: thank you. Because you’re right. And it has taken me a long time to realize it, but although I am difficult, I am worth it too.





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