(Please note that anxiety affects everybody differently. I'm purely writing this from my own experience with it.)
I decided to write this since I've been dealing with severe anxiety for a long while now, and people in my life don't exactly understand what it's like to deal with every day, they just tell me to stop worrying and causing myself extra anxiety.
Much easier said than done
Anxiety is unpredictable, it doesn't make sense, and it's not something you can just stop. It's something that always tends to linger in the back of my mind no matter what I'm doing. Grocery shopping, going on a walk, or even just sitting down at the table to eat dinner with my family. All very simple and seemingly safe things, yet I've gotten panic attacks during every single one of them. It's such a horrible feeling, and I'm going to describe it the best I can.
You're doing a usual activity, nothing out of the ordinary when it begins. You start by feeling a little bit weird, kinda like an out of body sensation. Your hands get a bit clammy and you feel a weird pit-like feeling in your stomach. You try to brush it off and continue on, taking a few breaths to calm your body down.
The pit-like feeling gets more intense, and your chest feels tighter than usual, causing you to breathe a bit faster to get enough oxygen. Your fingers and legs begin to tingle, and this particular sign is when I know I'm past the point of no return. I'm about to have a full-blown panic attack.
You sit down, putting your head into your hands as you try to get a deep, satisfying breath, but you can't. It gets harder to take a breath, sending your body into a bigger panic and you begin to hyperventilate. The world around you starts spinning and you feel like you're about to vomit as your vision starts to tunnel and go out.
The mental symptoms then begin intensifying, you feel such a deep pit of fear in your stomach. Towards what exactly, you don't know. But it keeps getting worse, the panic building, the breathing getting faster, you're both freezing cold and sweating at the same time. The world around you is tuned out, you can't hear anything except for your own rapid heartbeat in your ears.
You are completely terrified
You can't stop shaking, you lose muscle control, your body is completely exhausted by now, but the panic attack has just reached its peak. You can't stop yourself from crying, feeling like your body is about to completely give out and shut down on you.
You can stay like this for any amount of time, whether it's five minutes or an hour or two. Slowly, it'll begin to back off. You'll be able to take a few deep breaths as your heart rate goes back to normal, signaling it's finally ending.
At least for now, that is. You can hope and pray that it'll be a while before your next one, but you can never know exactly when it'll strike again. And that, is the real scary part in my opinion. You could have one somewhere you can't get away from, such as an airplane, and you'll have to deal with having a breakdown in front of everyone.
In front of their judgmental eyes.