Have you ever heard the expression,”My heart skips a beat?” It’s usually used in romantic contexts when the heroine sees her hero for the first time,
When my heart skips a beat, it doesn’t feel like a warm rush of attraction. It’s the first indication I’m about to break down.My reason is disconnecting from reality. Like pool balls after being racked, it’s just a quick few seconds notice that everything is about to not make any sense.
I’ve tried to put together what triggers me.
Maybe I’ve had some really bad news; the kind of news that is life changing. The kind of news that makes me question myself on many levels, reopening that old wound, the acrid voice of self-doubt. The Voice that I’ve been hearing since I was four. The Voice that whispers, “You’re not good enough. See, somebody finally noticed you’re nothing but a fake.”
It might be that I’ve made a giant mistake. The kind of mistake that is costly, whether financially, relationship-wise, or career suicide. A mistake that won’t be taken lightly by those involved. Sometimes what’s actually a small mistake, in the moment, can feel momentous. I can’t always see clearly. I take my worry to the absolute worst case scenario, then I throw myself off that cliff.
Or perhaps I’ve seen something disturbing; something off, something profoundly wrong in nature. An acquaintance looking a second too long at his wife’s best friend. One of my kid’s friends who doesn’t want to go home for some reason. Once, when I worked at a hospital, I saw the cold blue bruises of a noose around a man’s neck. A pool of blood spreading under a man’s head after he’d been shot in a fight with a relative. The blood, scarlet and still warm, rushed from him like a bubbling brook, filling every tub they put in front of it. The entire unit smelled like copper pennies. I can see terrible things and not panic. It has to do with how these visuals relate to me and my own experiences. To this day, when I hear a belt being taken off a pair of jeans, I have to take a second. That was the sound I heard, as a ten-year-old, right before the babysitter’s husband undressed in front of me.
It feels pretty close to terror.
Do you know the difference between terror and horror?
People use these terms interchangeably but they truly aren’t.
Terror is the kind of fear that manifests itself in the pit of your stomach in anticipation of that dreaded expectation. When you walk around a corner and can’t make out the landscape but you just know somebody’s out there.
Horror is the kind of fear that takes over when you see blood spurting or the ghost of a noose.
When I have an anxiety attack, I really can hear my heartbeat in my ears. I feel a dysrhythmia under my ribcage, as if I’m just too terrified to remind my heart to do its job.
I sweat profusely, and it really is what people call a “cold sweat.” My fingers tingle. My breath catches in my throat. My face flushes, red heat in my cheeks. I’m not embarrassed, I’m drowning. It’s impossible to concentrate on anything else. I can’t hear you. I can’t breathe. My head thunders with the sound of waterfalls.
And in those moments, my heart skips a beat.
2 thoughts on “On Panic Attacks and Terror”
Oh yes! I had them (not often) for years and had no idea what they were. Before I ever heard of affirmations , I created my own, which often helped – like a mantra, I guess. In recent years, they are associated with pressure situations – taking trips, chorale concerts, etc. Finally asked my MD for a beta blocker for “rapid heart rate” – huge help! In the bad old days. I’d feel my heart rate increase, get that cold sweat, and THEN get scared of having a panic attack. I know now that I am usually weary and worn down, for them to be “attacking.”
Stress of any kind, terror, anxiety, depression, trauma, etc. is the number one killer in America. People are too embarrassed to go to the doctor and say “gee doc I just feel like I used to..” I have periods of time when I feel sad and lonely and the doctor told me I needed to take some medication to help with the grieving process because if you don’t take care or those things that cause depression the next thing in line is dementia and then onto to loosing yourself within yourself. Scary isn’t it. But know that God is with you always and He will never forsake you. So if you have given yourself to Jesus, He and the other two will make sure everything comes out the way He wants and in His time. Thank Him, Praise Him and most of all Love Him and others. You don’t have to like what they do but you love them because God made them.I love you and if you need to talk, cry, whine, or whatever you know where I am at.
Comments are closed.