What is an anxiety attack?

Today I was asked the question “What it felt like to have anxiety or to experience an anxiety attack?” I was asked this by a manager at my work who told me she had never once experienced this feeling that so many seem stressed with. She asked me “What the big deal was about it?” I asked her what she thought it meant and in response she stated that she felt like people were over reacting to a feeling or situation. 

   So what is it? What makes painic attacks and anxiety such a big deal? Most off. What makes anxiety so distressing to someone? 

Webster definition. Anxiety – Feeling worry, nervousness or unease typically about an event or something with a uncertain outcome. 

  When I was asked this question my mind resorted to every time my hands shook uncontrollably and sweat welled up through every pore in on my body. It flashed to everytime my heart sped so fast that I couldn’t think beyond a second in front of me. I remembered the shear panic of not knowing what would happen to me next and the moments where it felt like the weight of the world was compressing down on my chest and no matter how much air I took it, it still didn’t fill my lungs with the proper air required to sustain my life. I thought of all the times my heart beat hard and fast because of just the unknown. I even began to think of how hard it was to get up this morning and pull together for work. 

  As I was sitting there I thought about how much I would die to be the one asking someone that very question, being so oblivious to the feeing of anxiety. That’s when it hit me. I wasn’t meant to be like everyone else. I wasn’t meant to be the woman sitting across from me who had no idea what anxiety was. I was meant to go through all the pain and torment, I was built for the emmense pressure of the life experiences I have already endured. I was meant to be the person who could not only explain but move others to show empathy for other people.  I was meant to be the one who people could ask those questions to.

“Have you ever drank too much coffee and your heart raced and pounded through your chest? Have you ever been so overwhelmed with too many tasks at once and it caused you to become frustrated? Have you ever felt uncertainty for a situation like maybe a job interview and you were nervous?” She nodded and I continued. “Imagine than your chest hurting really bad because of a racing heart, your mind unable to form a proper thought, and add in that nervous unsettling feeling during a job interview…only picture it happening for longer than just a few minutes.” I said.

 She looked at me and then sat back. “Wow that sounds really scary and exhausting.” I told her that sadly that’s what most people within this room probably feel at least a few times a week if not every single day. 

 Anxiety is very real and it’s what so many people face every day. If you have a friend or loved one that faces that pressure of anxiety. Give them a hug and tell them that you appreciate all they do, cause the hardest thing about anxiety.. is being able to leave the bed and function despite the uncertainty of what this world holds.

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