The Many Faces of Anxiety and Panic Attacks

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When I ask people that what they think about what chronic anxiety is, they respond that it is just a person who is anxious all the time and they have trouble with dealing with their anxiety all the time.

That is part of anxiety, but what they fail to understand is that there are many faces of a person who deals with anxiety daily. One of the most common I see is the I’m okay on the outside face. This face is the one where we tell those that know we suffer that “I am okay, don’t worry about me” because they feel like a burden on the ones that they love. I wear this face it because I don’t want people to worry about me, I feel like I am not worth it.

Anxiety is all in the mind, but it has real physical features. Some that I have experienced is hyperventilating, the cramping of my hands, shortness of breath, and unable to keep still. The worse part is your mind is telling you things like your going to die because of this, and there is nothing you can do–I call this one my panic attack face. It is funny because people have seen this face and they don’t understand what is happening.

I don’t blame someone who has never had a panic attack when they say, “You just need to calm down.”

Thanks! That is the cure all! They mean well but I have had panic attacks last for hours at a time (and I have had anxiety non-stop for days and even weeks at a time.) It means not having a moment of peace and it the face I wear when lost in my anxiety is the I’m not doing well face. The problem is that is it not much different than my I’m okay face and it can be deceiving because people think that there is nothing at all going on and in the inside of my mind I am falling through space with no end.

I hate my anxiety more than depression. I could watch movies and lay in bed all day. Anxiety can cripple you and drain you of your energy. When I am out in the world, I have my I am doing my best with my social anxiety face. I consider this my brave face because it is so hard for me to function for long stretches of time with my anxiety. I try my best to be a better person when I am around people who always bring up the worst thoughts in my mind because you fear so much with anxiety.

The worst part are the thoughts of having panic attacks in public, which is the worst fear that I face daily.

One time long ago I had a bad panic attack in public it was the worst in my life. I honestly thought that it was it, that I was going to die. My mind raced with the idea that I was going to have a panic attack. I couldn’t breathe, and my hands went numb. I couldn’t close a fist if wanted to, and the image of the ambulance and firetruck all around it still haunts me, and I fear that happening again.

Those of us struggling with chronic anxiety, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety are ordinary people. We have trouble living healthy lives, and for so many of us, we do live normal lives even with our crippling anxiety. So if a friend, family member, or significant other tries to talk about their anxiety you should listen. It might be just what gets them through their anxiety that day. Stay strong in the fight.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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14 Replies to “The Many Faces of Anxiety and Panic Attacks”

  1. Well written. I like the idea of the faces we wear. We wear so many different faces throughout our mental illness life. Sometimes our faces are a blend of many different faces combining together to create the mask we are foced ot wear on that particular day. Thank you for this.

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  2. I actually just wrote something very similar to this yesterday. Anxiety is horrible but it’s so personal and intimate it can be hard to get others to understand. Loved reading this and I wish you the best!

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    1. I wish you the best as well. Anxiety can be very crippling and it takes so much for you. The strongest people I know deal with anxiety every day and still try to be normal.

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  3. I identify with the “faces” metaphor. I have difference “faces” for my anxiety depending on who I am with, where my anxiety is at the moment and just what is going on in my day. Of course, I have one where I try to hide my anxiety- when I am in public, at work, or with people I don’t know well. I have one with people I do know- they can usually tell by it that I am anxious and usually try to help me sit down somewhere quiet so that I can work through it with some space.

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  4. That’s actually true…
    Depression- you can tame it to a limit, but anxiety is like something heavy is sitting on your chest and you can’t seem to move. It constantly drains you to the point where you give in to it…

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    1. I always say I would take depression any day. Yes I have had some long depression cycles that lasted for years and I was not myself, but anxiety takes everything especially your energy.

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  5. I relate with this post 100% . Im still trying to read up and see what I can do about my anxiety and panic attacks (which I never get at my house where im most comfortable) but being a mom and a pretty social person its not an option to stay at my house and lay in bed all day….

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    1. It’s a hard balance to find for a mom. I can’t imagine how much harder to deal with it as a social person. You have to find ways to cope. Therapy helps if that is possible in your life.

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      1. Yeah ive done therapy when I was around 13 and 14. My mom didnt like that to much…. Idk how much it would cost now…

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