I have never suffered a full blown panic attack. However, I do sometimes suffer ranic attacks. Don’t know what those are? That’s okay, neither did spell check. Probably because I just made it up.
Ranic attacks are a combination of rage and panic. They usually happen when I am stuck at work or stuck in a crowded place. I feel my heart start to race, and I get in a mindset that I suspect is similar to that of a cornered animal. I get panicky, and I want to pick up whatever is around me and smash it to the ground. Then I want to ball my hands into ranic fists and smash whatever objects are in arm’s reach of me. Then I want to curl into the fetal position and wait for someone else to come deal with it. To come deal with me. To come deal with these feelings.
I want to be clear, I never want to hurt anyone else. My darkness torments me, and me alone. I would never allow it to harm someone else. I just want people to see outwardly, the tempest and the disarray that is happening inside, the mental destruction and darkness that fills my mind when I feel like I don’t have an escape or when I feel like the world is just being too much for me in that moment.
I never actually do these things for two reasons. First, I relish not getting fired by my employer and having to pay for new computer equipment. And second, because I know that even if I did, people still wouldn’t understand. And that is the tragedy of ranic attacks. It is the tragedy of mental illness in general. That no matter how hard you try, it is so incredibly difficult to adequately portray the darkness within. I try to do it with words. Others try to do it with drawing or painting or photography. And others do it with comedy or acting.
Some of these displays are truly amazing, the brightness that can come from a dark interior. They are certainly more impressive than my ranic attacks would be.
Maybe one day there will be a way to convey this darkness through more than just art. Something better than the mediocre clinical names like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc, etc.
Until then, at my worst moments, I close my eyes and imagine myself going on a Hulk like rampage. Then I open them and see everything in its rightful place and I know that this ranic attack, and the anxiety that triggered it will pass. I just have to breathe.