Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal December 12, 2018 - 10:32pm

Anyone ever had one? I haven't on any level, and it seems googling only does so much. It'd be great (for me) if someone didn't mind sharing what it's like from personal experience, if they're up for it.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman December 12, 2018 - 11:55pm

I've had some minor incidents. 

A big symptom for me was "breath hunger." It feels like you can't take big enough breaths. Like you try and fill your lungs, but they're being pushed on from the outside, and before you can get them full, they start pushing breath back out. You keep trying to get in a good breath, but it doesn't work. It's a bizarre feeling, and it makes you even more panicked. 

Which is hilarious because what do people tell you to do when you're trying to calm down? Take deep breaths.

I've also had this very weird feeling where I would continually wake up at night feeling like I was mid-thought. This is tougher to describe, but I'd wake up, and it was like I was in the middle of a conversation with myself, mid-sentence in my brain. It was really hard to shut that down. Almost like it was loud music from the apartment next door as opposed to being in my head. 

For me, the best comparison I can make is to being way, WAY over-caffeinated. Very scattered, and everything feels more urgent than it is. 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal December 13, 2018 - 8:06am

Huh, sounds like that one time I did waaaay too much weed.

helpfulsnowman's picture
Community Manager
helpfulsnowman from Colorado is reading But What If We're Wrong? by Chuck Klosterman December 13, 2018 - 10:35am

Yeah, if there's paranoia with weed, I imagine the effects share some hallmarks. 

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann December 14, 2018 - 10:33am

Over-caffeinated is a good description. Anyone can have a panic attack, even if they have no mental illness, and caffeine makes you more likely to have one. They're different for different people. I have CPTSD. For me, it's an insane spike of fight-or-flight response and grief at the same time. I feel them pretty heavily in my chest and face. Like a lion is chasing you and your body is compensating to run away from it, but there isn't a lion or really anything. It's a sudden feeling of terror and being trapped. They can be unprompted.

I had a bad one once when I was living with a couple of strippers. I was basically the roommate who was gone at work and school all the time and when I was home I just stayed in my room and only came out to cook or clean up after everyone. The cool responsible stripper I was friends with moved out because she was sober (a huge pothead, but not on hard drugs or drinking anymore) and the house had started turning into a pretty bad scene because of the other girls. She didn't want shit to do with it. She had kind of been the head Mom stripper who kept the other girls in line. So then when she left, the younger crazy stripper got fired and started prostituting herself out of the house. (She started out as a massage therapist, but she got fired from that and turned to stripping.) She told me one morning that she wanted to throw a house party that night when I had to write a paper and be up at 5-6 AM. I told her no. She was super fucking irresponsible, I hate house parties, and her friends were criminals and drug addicts and drug dealers and people who go to strip clubs and/or pay for prostitutes. Total lowlifes who used to steal my shit, eat my food, and try to come into my room and hit on me. And she's already unbearable cause she's on coke and keeps me up all night being loud as fuck with her friends. I said I wasn't comfortable with it and she said oh, ok, no problem.

So I go to class, go to work, come home and she's getting ready to have the party anyway and has people over helping her set it up, including one giant DJ guy who was probably an ex-con and screams at me that it's none of my business if my roommate wants to have a party, and that he's already moved all his equipment here and he needs to get paid. Nevermind she's underage and can't even drink legally. She wants to charge people to come to the party and get wasted. So, I tell her no, you're going to fuck up the house. I will call the police. You're 20. You can't drink legally. You're not having a house party. You told me you weren't going to. This is unreasonable. So she screamed at me that she was a grown woman and could do whatever she wanted. Then I went all PTSD abused-shelter-dog psycho and rage-blacked out and I screamed back at her. Can't remember what I said, but the conversation ceased to be productive. I ended up having to get my boyfriend to come over and talk calmly to her about why it wasn't cool and that it would be pretty dumb if I had to call the cops, because she's underage, and to tell the DJ guy this was between roommates and none of his business. My bf's also a big football-player-sized dude. He got them to take it to somebody else's house. But by this point in the night, even after they left, I was in a ball on the floor in my room, incapacitated with a panic attack, hyperventilating and sobbing and saying it's too hard, everything is too hard, and that I couldn't breathe and couldn't find my inhaler and "I can't do this anymore," meaning life in general. It's a combination of complete and utter inescapable terror; hopelessness; an arresting, hitting-the-wall, giving up feeling. Like your back's up against the wall and you're about to die. But in this case combined with a fleeting bout of wanting to die also. But preferably by like god striking a lightning bolt down on your head to put you out of your misery, because you're too paralyzed to do it yourself. And you're breathing like you've been crying hysterically and running a marathon at the same time.

I mostly get anxiety and emotional flashbacks because of my CPTSD, which are in the same family but a lot different. Maria Bamford describes anxiety pretty well.

It’s like we’re at a wonderful party, just a regular party, everybody’s having a good time, and then all of a sudden somebody shows up in a pretty frighteningly realistic Dracula costume. And you know it’s just fucking Steve Benaquist, right? Everyone says, ‘oh yeah it’s Steve Benaquist.’ But he won’t say he’s Steve Benaquist. And then he starts chasing you.

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien December 15, 2018 - 12:50am

That's a scary situation Bethwenn.

Thuggish,this song sums it up pretty well.

As with all Isbell songs, each line is a gem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwW_zr2uMiE

Kedzie

 

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien December 15, 2018 - 1:09am

I suppose this song could be used as the antidote to anxiety. To realize how lucky we are compared to most people on the planet. That doesn't really help a person in the middle of an attack, but the idea might prove helpful after the attack has passed. Or maybe not. Maybe it would just sound like a platitude. And of course at the end of the song the dude does shoot out the windows of his loft. :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKbWQMo2CEQ

Kedzie's picture
Kedzie from the SF Bay Area is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien December 15, 2018 - 1:08am

And since we were talking about stripping...  ;-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsbLCfWa4o4

 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal December 16, 2018 - 9:37am

BW-

how much actual help would you say your boyfriend's presence was? what i wonder, i guess, is: is an attack so strong that you hardly notice? or is it the difference between night and day? something between..?

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal December 16, 2018 - 9:54am

Oh, and how long did it last?

Oh! And what's it like coming out of one?

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann December 17, 2018 - 6:41am

I don't remember now, but I would say that particular episode was a half hour. The aftermath isn't notable for me. If you were crying, it's mostly just the post-crying endorphins.

 

"what i wonder, i guess, is: is an attack so strong that you hardly notice?"

I don't understand the question. What do you mean so strong that you hardly notice? It's a tidal wave. You can't miss a tidal wave. You might not be thinking in the moment that what you're feeling is a panic attack. But you can't not notice it. Depending on how self aware you are, if how you're feeling is out of proportion with what's happening, it will be on your mind: I'm having a panic attack or I'm about to have a panic attack over this/for no reason. You may be able to intellectually acknowledge that you're safe even though you don't feel safe. A less aware person will blame how they feel on whatever brought it on, no matter how small. But if what you're going through is bad enough, the fact that you're having a panic attack could mentally disappear and it might feel more like you're unsafe and how you're feeling is just that you are being mentally and emotionally crushed by life/whatever is happening. That's how I felt with the baby stripper.

 

"how much actual help would you say your boyfriend's presence was?"

On a practical level, I might not have been able to do much for myself to resolve my roommate situation that night without my boyfriend's help. He also dug through my purse to find my inhaler for me. Once I reached a certain point, I was pretty much incapacitated and childlike. I was crying on the floor in a ball. It's a paralyzing level of fear and overwhelm and anxiety. If I were alone, at some point I might've calmed down enough to call the police.

As far as my boyfriend's presence mitigating the actual attack goes, it made a big difference. But at the time I don't think he would've perceived it that way or would've felt like he was being of any help. It's like endlessly falling alone in the dark versus falling while having something to hold onto. A calm voice in the room saying things will be fine is like knowing you won't hit bottom. It doesn't bring you out of it, but it's a comfort. And it's the same with my cat. He's very perceptive to when people are upset. When I cry, he always comes over and crawls all over me and makes me pet him until I calm down. He did that. The boyfriend helped calm me down and tell me things I couldn't tell myself. And the cat helped me find some strength.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal December 17, 2018 - 10:01am

oh, what i meant was, was the attack so strong you hardly noticed his presence.

well that paints quite a picture, thanks for sharing, really.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann December 18, 2018 - 8:53pm

was the attack so strong you hardly noticed his presence

No, I've always stayed aware of my surroundings. In fight or flight mode, you're more hyper-vigilant. You're aware of everything in an agonizing way. Especially in that situation, I was listening for any sounds coming from the living room, wondering when she and DJ dude would just fucking leave and if they would try to have the party anyway. I remember asking Nate (boyfriend) a couple of times if he was absolutely sure that the people she'd had over had left. Every sound freaked me out. If the body thinks it's in danger, it wants to detect any and all possible and imagined danger. It wants you to replicate your genes and all. I was more likely to convince myself someone else was in the house than to forget a person who was there with me.

Again, given that my CPTSD bleeds into everything else, I can't tell you if that's characteristic of all anxiety attacks. Hyper-vigilance is an ongoing issue for me. My guess though is that the adrenal spike and the fear of a panic attack would generally tell your brain danger is near and to watch out.

I have no visual memory of Nate in my bedroom though. I remember hearing and feeling him. My eyes may have been closed or my face may have been buried in my hands. There is a kind of tunnel vision in that regard. This could also be warped shellshock memory because I'm very dissociative when I get freaked out like that. Now that I think about it, nearly all of my visualizations of this memory are dissociative, outside of my body, so that I see it like a film with me in the shot. I'm guessing that somehow makes it easier for the brain to process traumatic memories.

 

thanks for sharing, really.

No problem. Glad that turned out to be useful for somebody. lol