The Anxiety Diaries Volume 15: The Panic Attack Comedown

Sometimes I truly cannot tell what is worse. The panic attack itself or the comedown from it. It’s the hangover of of the anxiety world really isn’t it?

Sometimes it will take me a few minutes, or a short rest to shake it off. The lingering feeling of terror, and worry remains on your skin like dirt that you can’t seem to scrub off.

Recently I had a pretty major panic attack. One of the ones that drags on for an entire day. I felt like I couldn’t escape and it was as if I couldn’t breathe. No one could help me, especially myself.
It was infuriating for me to not be able to communicate the magnitude of the horrors splashing around in my head.

I felt so trapped in my own skin and my mind was screaming for help. I could almost think of nothing better than death at that point. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to fully explain the terrifying thoughts I was having.

I spent the following days coming down from that manic episode. Finding I had no appetite or energy. I felt so drained and ashamed of the behavior I exhibited. But should I be ashamed of having those thoughts? Am I crazy? This is a question I continue to ask myself.

The first few hours I felt like I had an out of body experience the night before. And I didn’t feel like myself. I was in physical pain, nauseated and sore. I wanted to tell everyone who checked in that I was okay. I wasn’t but I was getting there. I felt like a burden saying anything other than “I’m doing much better”. So that is exactly what I did.

I spent the next little while forcing myself to eat substantial meals, being active, and talking about what I had experienced. I believe it’s left a bit of a mark on my psyche still, but it’s something I’m just going to have to live with.

It was hard to have the drained feeling hanging around for so long. I felt like I was enduring a hangover I didn’t deserve. And that’s the thing, no one tells you there is recovery time from panic attacks. It’s debilitating and makes me feel ashamed to have anxiety and depression. Because I know I’m stronger than that.

This is of course not my first panic attack, or manic episode. But certainly the most recent.

So, I came up with a list. The intention being a list to refer to when I’m feeling anxious or drained. I divided it into categories including: who to contact, what to eat, songs to play, places to go, exercises to do, and things to do (eg. shower). This list will be something I can go to when I start to feel panicked, or during a “comedown” like the one I recently went through. Most importantly I felt the need to remind myself not to be so hard on ‘me’. This isn’t a life I chose, I don’t want to be this way but I am. There is no overnight fix.

What do you do during your panic attack comedowns? Let me know in the comments.