Chest feels heavy… Tight. Like you can’t exhale completely. Like you aren’t getting enough oxygen. It feels like, no matter how hard you focus on slow, deep breathing – exhaling all the way – you can’t relax; like there’s too much residual air. It’s that feeling of doom when you’re about to find out bad news. It’s that shaking feeling when something bad is happening, or when your adrenaline levels are running at a level too high to sustain. You feel wired; anything can tip you over the edge and trigger an unfavourable response – angry, snappy, teary… You’re an emotional mess.

You check your pulse. You check for the heartbeat in your chest. You worry that it’s irregular or too fast, or not strong enough; that there is something wrong. So you keep checking it. You worry if you should go to the Emergency Department and get yourself assessed, even though you know better… you know this is not cardiac related.

It’s stress. A lack of sleep. A perceived lack of support. And when, inevitably, you snap, you feel like one big crazy mess. You question yourself and what’s wrong with you. It’s scary, you see. When this feeling of impending doom finally spirals out of control into a panic attack, it’s unfamiliar. It only happens once or twice a year, at best. It’s unfamiliar.

“Are you okay?” No.

“What’s wrong?” I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Everything; and nothing at all.

When you look back at the turn of events, you realise it’s completely normal to feel a little out of control. Any sane person would feel out of their comfort zone with the increased demands and stress you’ve bared recently. And recognising that you need a little TLC is a positive step; you’ve identified you’re not okay, and you’re going to do something about it.

You talk to people. You immerse yourself in fun and healing activities with loved ones. You sleep. You focus on the positives. You allow yourself the space to be okay.

It will be okay.

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