When I am having a panic attack, it doesn’t look like anything. I’m sure everyone experiences it differently but when I’m having a panic attack, you will most likely not know until I tell you.

On the outside, everything seems perfectly normal. I am sitting at work or out with friends. I might be driving or at the store. But on the inside it’s pure chaos. My heart is beating rapidly and my insides feel squirmy. I can’t breathe. My brain is in a fog. I try to catch a breath. I just can’t get a gulp of air. My stomach starts to hurt and my shoulders tense up. I start to feel faint.

My panic attack is engulfing me.

You, an innocent bystander with no idea what’s going on, walk up to me and ask a question. I turn to look at you, respond and smile. You smile back and walk away. Inside, is still pure chaos.

I let it ride. Because that’s all I can do. I go on with my day. You never knew a thing.

Anxiety has this stigma. It’s like, if my arm was broken and in a cast, you’d say “oh let me help you carry that.” But, talk of my anxiety makes people weary.

You can’t see it. Is it really there? “Maybe you’re just having a bad day.” “I get worried sometimes too.”

It’s not a bad day. It happens all the time. But thanks for trying. Truly, thank you for trying. But it’s so much more than that.

I don’t write this for sympathy and I sure as hell don’t write it for attention. I know how people feel about anxiety and I actually hate talking about it with others because they may not understand.

I write this to create awareness. Awareness to anxiety but also to all mental illness. We need to start treating mental illness as we do all other illnesses. It’s real, it’s there; even if you can’t see it.

I also write this to connect with others. Connect with me.

Xoxo • Julie