Today, my anxiety nightmare came true: I had a panic attack in front of my staff.
I experienced my first massive panic attack when I was a young teenager. I was convinced I was having a heart attack, but I didn’t tell my mum because my grandfather had just passed away from one. I felt embarrassed and dramatic, so I decided to keep it hidden to avoid drawing attention to myself. My abuse history opened a padlocked door that’s now permanently propped open, and I never know when the next panic attack will strike.
Many people would describe me as someone who never stops smiling, always makes people laugh, has the ability to instantly light up the room and just seems to effortlessly go through life - the 'Happy-go-lucky' type of girl. In my work space I am very capable and independent and don't ask for much help.
They have no idea I have practiced that smile for so long that I do not even need to think about faking it. That the reason I make people laugh is not just to be funny but because I do not want people to feel the same thing I feel. That I light up the room because I fake happiness so nobody will constantly ask me what is wrong. That nothing I do is effortless and I appear to be very independent because I don't want people to think I have failed.
No one knows I live with a monster in my head.
But I know.
It starts with a sense of panic. The panic means the monster is slowly working its way up into my chest. Once it is there, the monster grips my chest so tight that it feels like I am suffocating as the air is squeezed out of my lungs. This feeling gets stronger and stronger until I feel like I am drowning.
I scream for help
But no one hears me.
This happened today.
In front of my whole office.
Whilst I was the only manager on site. (Insert face palm here)
Sometimes the monster is provoked, but other times the monster springs out of nowhere. Either way, there is no stopping it.
The monster is invisible so it may not seem real but..
It most certainly is.
It is not something made up, it is not a plea for attention and it is not an excuse to avoid responsibilities to make life more convenient.
My anxiety is real.
Sometimes It’s hard to make other people realise how real anxiety is.
Today i got, “Well there’s nothing to worry about…” or “Just stop worrying about it and you’ll be fine…” or “Why would you even worry about something like that? It’s so insignificant.”
I know some of the things that trigger my anxiety are minuscule and can sound ridiculous.
I know that, but I can’t help it.
I cannot stress this enough: I cannot explain why I am anxious or why this or that makes me anxious.
Sometimes it is for no reason. Sometimes there is no reason for my anxiety.
Now, I do not expect people who do not have anxiety to understand, but please be patient with me and do not look at me like I am “crazy.” I already feel like I am crazy and I have little patience with myself half the time. I am also super embarrassed about the whole thing as who really wants to see a grown woman crying and hyper ventilating .
So, On behalf of myself and many others with anxiety: Please realise my monster is not some imaginary friend. It is real.