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Anxiety in verse

April 6, 2012

The rumble of ominous thunder announces the pending approach.
A lingering, menacing spectre, taking hold and squeezing your throat.
You foolishly think you have time to prepare for your terrible fate
But your countermeasures are no match, and anyway you’ve left them too late.

With sudden ferocity it’s on you – your intellect can’t help you now.
You struggle to maintain perspective, but while drowning you can’t figure how.
It hits you with force, a hundred foot wave, delivering a great crushing blow
Sucking your breath, breaking your thoughts, a rushing adrenaline flow.

Once hit you are shaken, your muscles weak, the trembling spreads like a vine
Wrapped in its tendrils, kidnapping your will, distorting and disrupting time.
It takes hold of your throat, in a strangling grip, till you find you barely can swallow.
Your heart tries escaping, right out from your chest, your lungs feel like they might follow.

You wonder if everyone’s looking, thinking “What’s wrong with them, are they ill?”
You hope you just might, with tremendous effort, find a way to appear at least still.
And during this hell, which can drag on all day, or all week if you’re in quite a state
Nobody around you has the slightest damn clue what an effort it takes to seem straight.

With each passing moment, you wonder if now you’ll just vomit all over your shoes
But somehow you stay upright, even though you’re on fire, you rely on your will to get through.
It’s not that uncommon, in the midst of this angst, to be dripping with sweat from your brow
And your mind will do thought-loops, thrashing over itself, you’ll wish it would just settle down.

If you’ve not felt anxiety, hear it from me, this is not something upon you I’d wish.
I could never imagine, before I first had one, how horrific a panic attack is.
So if someone you know has told you before, this is something they deal with in life
Don’t think them weak, for their strength is enormous, as it need be to deal with this strife.

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15 Comments
  1. This is a really wonderful piece. It really captures the isolation of anxiety and how it disturbs a person sense of reality and self. Have you written any others?

  2. traceyb65 permalink

    Once hit you are shaken, your muscles weak, the trembling spreads like a vine
    Wrapped in its tendrils, kidnapping your will, distorting and disrupting time.
    It takes hold of your throat, in a strangling grip, till you find you barely can swallow.
    Your heart tries escaping, right out from your chest, your lungs feel like they might follow.

    yes, yes, yes, yes … thank you for writing this. i am only just beginning to understand what has been ‘wrong’ with me thanks to my daughter’s diagnosis. that acidic burning through my veins, the taste of vomit in my throat, the dizziness and inability to focus. and oddly, that desperate need to curl up in a ball and sleep till it all goes away. xt

    • Through conversations with others, I’ve come to understand the experiences are very similar. Some don’t experience quite the same degrees of various symptoms, but especially when it’s new to you it can be quite terrifying. I encourage you to see your GP about this if it happens again – you don’t have to just accept it.

  3. Steve permalink

    Panic attack! PANICK ATTACK!
    Check myselff in the mirror
    Fully expecting my image to shimmer.

    Heart that is pounding itself
    Deep in my chest.
    Eyes flicking left and right,
    Why won’t they rest?

    Checking for danger
    Checking for danger!

    Sitting is diffucult,
    Walking is tough
    Nobody told me
    Life was THIS rough.

    Right with you mate.
    Bat on, bat on.

    Steve.

  4. symoneinoz permalink

    How incredibly terrifying knowing this is what you go through when an anxiety attack strikes – I had no idea. Thank you for sharing your internal dialogue as is really helps those of us who have not been there, catch a glimpse into the hell this clearly is for those who have experienced them. I would be interested to know is there anything a spouse or friend can do/say (or NOT do/say) at the time of an attack that can help/alleviate the symptoms in any way? Is time a factor or is there something else specific that happens to make the anxiety subside?

    I can only hope that if you have any attacks in the future they are few and mild, but most of all, I hope you have none at all.

    All of you take care
    Symone

    • That’s a very interesting question Symone, and I suspect everyone will have different views. For me, I need to feel connected and I reach out by putting up panic flares which people like you notice and respond to. I’d want someone to just be there, listen if I wanted to talk, and probably offer a hug if they’re with me. Physical contact is very, very calming for me.

      As for NOT say – yes. What doesn’t help me is hearing what I should do, or what I’m doing wrong (in their opinion), or that I have so much to be thankful for why am I being like this?

      Just be there. Tell them you care. Let them talk. Don’t rush them. A hand on an arm, or whatever contact is appropriate to your relationship.

      That’s all I can think of. Others I know prefer to go through it alone.

  5. My Daphne (Mum) has panic attacks. Fortunately they’re not anywhere near as severe as your experiencing. It obviously isn’t a laughing matter, but I couldn’t help thinking of this:

    When mother starts having the vapors
    We’ve a well-rehearsed plan set in place.
    First sit the girl down and say ‘breathe, dear’
    Before kissing her beautiful face.

    But the best thing we’ve found to restore her –
    And it’s something we always keep handy –
    Is a glassful of sweetened hot water
    And a liberal slurp of good brandy.

    • I like. One thing though – it’s very tempting to turn to alcohol. I started doing that to calm myself down before bed, despite never having been much of a drinker. I know you’re not saying that, but if anxiety or panic attacks are a feature in one’s life, I would not recommend alcohol as a long term strategy.

      Thank you though – I love the verse 🙂

  6. Fiona permalink

    I couldn’t have put it any better myself I went through a stage where I couldn’t even leave the house

  7. shellity permalink

    What great words! Your imagery took me back to a time I hope I never have to return to. How did it feel to break it down and analyse it like that?

    • The short answer is ’empowering’. You can’t control anxiety, but for me writing about it makes me feel like I own it, like I can control the outcome, even though I can’t control the onset.

      I’ve had so much positive feedback from people who’ve said they’ve never spoken about their anxiety or depression with anybody, and reading my words had made them feel like they aren’t a failure, or shouldn’t feel ashamed, or they aren’t alone. I cannot convey how happy that makes me feel!

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