I also had anxiety attacks, only I had no idea what they were. I was too petrified to tell anyone, so when my heart was straining out of my chest, when I couldn't catch my breath, when my mind was spinning so fast I couldn't pinpoint any thoughts but sheer panic, I curled myself into a ball until it passed. Or lost myself in endless books, to keep the fear at bay. I learned, silently, secretly, to avoid anything that made me nervous. I still don't ski, don't rollerblade, don't scale high heights.
I'm still terrified of losing control. Of microscopic cracks forming in my carefully constructed armor that will rip open so everything will crash and burn around me. Even after surviving an eating disorder and bouts of anxiety that had me too scared to get up and function, I still feel that icy hand occasionally stroking my spine. Anxiety makes me hunch over slightly, as if to help myself hold everything together. I wear more muted clothes, I cut myself off from people, I stay far away from new experiences that could possibly set something off. Stress brings it bubbling back just below the surface and, sadly, that's unavoidable. As is the genetic component. Anxiety runs through women in my family, sometimes quietly minding its own business, at others it floods its banks, destroying everything in its path.
When anxiety is raging, it's hard to know there's calm on the other side.
It's hard to hold onto the fact that everything will be ok in the end.
That's one of my mantras: everything is fine. That, and this is only temporary.
Those words are my lifelines when anxiety traps me in the corner and I don't see, believe, know there's a way out.