My chest tightens. I’m determined to put this off for as long as I can. I take a deep inhale through my nose and push the air out of my mouth in hopes that the fear will diminish, but with each breath I just notice the tightness more and more.
Soon my vision starts to go blurry and I feel a creeping tingle (that’s somehow also numb?) coursing through my body. I’m hopeful that no one around me notices my internal struggle. DAMN THIS MASK!
The worst part of this fear is what I’m actually afraid of: fear itself.
How do I get out of this cycle?
I’ve had many panic attacks in my life, typically at times of high stress or when my pesky core belief of being a failure is kicked into high gear.
Crazily enough, criticizing myself into feeling calm has never really worked. I’ve told myself dozens of times that I’m overreacting, or that it’s embarrassing to be hyperventilating, or best of all—that I should just “calm the f*** down.”
There have been times when I could support myself through and prevent an attack from fully escalating, with a combination of breathing & grounding strategies—and many other times where I couldn’t. Ultimately, I am the person who gives the fear any power. It was only when I began to laugh at my fear and be kind to myself with a playful, loving attitude, that I could let go of the shame that came with fear.
If you are easily overwhelmed and overstimulated, that is okay.
If you are worried about things you care about, that is okay.
If you are panicking because of the difficulties of daily life, that is okay.
None of these things equate to you being weak, overdramatic, or less than.