The First One Was The Worst One

Chris Vitale Photography 2012

The first time I had a true anxiety attack I wrote down everything that happened. I didn’t want to forget that feeling. I never did, anyway.

I wanted to remember what I could feel like. I wanted to remember what I did to heal, and what preventative measures I took to stop it from happening again.

Yeah, I started taking medication for it, but I also learned very quickly what keeps me calm in those moments. My advice to anyone who suffers from high levels of anxiety is to keep track of these things, because in those moments, it’s hard to remember. You forget that sometimes a hug from a friend, comfortable clothes, and a cup of tea are all it takes to relax you.

When you’re lying on the ground in tears and you start to believe you’ll never get up, you forget about all the things that are worth getting up for, and all the ways you can help yourself.

I came across this unedited note that I wrote in my phone after my first major anxiety attack, and I wanted to share it with you all, because I think it’s important that all those who suffer do the same.

I put myself on the floor just so they could find me there.

I shook so hard I felt actually crazy. I had an urge to hit the floor, so I did. It felt cold, so cold and so scary yet so much safer than my bed. That’s when I began to cry. It was a gentle cry, the violentness was only in part to the shaking that had begun earlier. My breath shortened and I clenched my dress with one hand and the carpet beneath me with the other – grabbing on to anything that might hold me together, keep me alive, even. I felt like it was the end. I wondered to myself whether dying felt the same.

Shortly after these thoughts entered my mind, I began to gag and stood up quickly to get to the bathroom, but I kept whatever wanted to come out down. I haven’t eaten much of anything today. I fell to my knees again and texted my roommates to see if they’d be around any time soon. I told Becca I was having an anxiety attack and she ran in. When she saw me on the floor, still in my church clothes from hours ago, she demanded that I change and she picked out my comfiest pajama pants. After some contemplation, I took off my tights and put on the pants. She took off my sweater (which I admittedly had forgotten was on my back) and dress and I raised my arms shamefully so she could finish dressing me, like an incapable child. She handed me a bottle of water and pulled back my hair, then gave me a cookie. It was the only thing I could stomach: one Thin Mint. We talked about the attack for awhile and then focused on the present.

We talked about classes and apartments for next year and the cross around my neck. It was then that I realized the shaking had subsided. After a few moments, I was able to recognize my hunger and I got through some crackers. Becca read me funny tumblr posts as I took off my smudged makeup and got ready for bed. Here I stay, writing this recount, eyes burning but for the most part I’m okay. And I’m ready for tomorrow, but I’m thinking about now. Because I’m not going to let anxiety strangle me like that again. Anxiety can’t just waltz in like she owns the place. This is my body, this is my brain, and I am in control. And I am here, ready to take on the world. I’m okay, and I’m ready.



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