I just got done watching a basket ball game between my hometown Syracuse and Duke on the television. Throughout the game is was back and forth, very close and in the end you might say it was an "Edge of your seat" kind of game. Towards the very end when it was a 2 point game with only 5.5 seconds left and Syracuse was leading while Duke had the ball, knowing from past games, anything could happen. A simple 3 point shot would have won Duke the game.
While I was standing there watching two free throw shots at the 5.5 second mark my heart was racing, I had a lump in my throat, I was shaking, my mind was racing with what could happen at any moment, I had that empty pit in my stomach feeling. Would Duke throw a 3 point shot and Syracuse would loose or would we be able to block them and go on to win the game. I was not in control of the game, I was not in control of the players actions, I could not control the game I had no control of what the outcome would be. Stress was and had built in me as I "Sat on the edge" of my seat almost wanting to yell at the object in front of me as I watched this all play out. By the time the clock had run down to zero and Syracuse had won the game by only two points my stress level had reached a point where I realized, my feelings throughout the game and in the end very much closely resembled that of a stress or panic attack, but I was not in a panic.
It made me realize that this feeling is exactly what one suffers from when they suffer from panic attacks, yet almost on a daily basis not just on a Saturday night at a set time. Those who suffer do not have the decision to change the channel or turn the television off when an attack hits. Most always suffers don't even know what causes the feelings or why they suffer at different levels during an attack. What we do know is that the reason we feel this way is caused by a Trigger, something that our mind hits on and brings on an attack. Triggers can be something brought on by one of our five senses or can be a silent trigger, something that we just do not notice or pay attention to. Once that trigger has triggered an attack, every feeling that I felt during that basketball game comes forward and can last for as little as a split moment to days for some.
For those who watch sporting events and do not know what someone goes through when they suffer a stress or panic attack, this can give a small glimpse into those feelings. I personally have tried to express to others what it feels like and why I react the way I do. Reactions to attacks can be as small as sitting in a chair just rocking to crawling up in a ball in the corner out of shear fear. Just like watching the game, our minds create the feeling of no control of our environment around us. Sufferers will often become very afraid of people, objects, sounds and smells around them strengthening their fear of no control which only make the attack that much worse.
In conclusion to this short post, the hopes are that in someway the feelings of a panic attack can be explained to someone who does not suffer. The hopes are that as short as this was, it can give a better understanding to those who live with those who deal with stress or panic attacks on an almost regular basis. It also can help explain why someone who does suffer from attacks, how it can be so debilitating to a person and how it can change ones life to the point they almost become a different person.