Now, I know a little too much about this subject. It was the reason I sought the assistance of a professional in the first place. While I’ve gone for a long time without specifying whatever ailment I have suffered, this will unfortunately narrow the list more than a little uncomfortably, but it’s something I’m willing to risk considering the subject matter.
Now, if you’ve never suffered a panic attack, never had a condition that provides them, never had reason to worry on this subject, much of what I’m saying will be difficult to comprehend. There are a lot of unpleasant experiences one can endure in life, but there are few that produce such dread in the sufferer. When I used to see depictions of mental disease in media, just for example, I could never really comprehend how anyone, even a loony, could behave with such reckless disregard; I thought their depiction was something purely imaginary meant to titillate crowds. And while there’s a certain amount of that, there’s also a kernel of truth within. Let’s say you’ve got a character suffering hallucinations and delusions, seeing people where there are none, who is nevertheless aware that he’s seeing what others apparently can’t. You’d think he could throttle his reactions and at least play nice with normal people, but the problem is that delusions are so powerful. You could acknowledge logically in your head that the demon standing at your bedside can’t possibly exist, but the very experience of it is so powerful and unpleasant that you nevertheless can’t help screaming and then hysterically sobbing.
A panic attack is one of the most unpleasant experiences you can experience. You will feel such terror that you may nevertheless know unreasonable, but you can’t help from feeling it, and this terrible sense of dread can continue for long miserable hours until the strain upon your head and your heart makes you seriously contemplate suicide. It isn’t that you want to die; you don’t even need to have a history of suicidal ideation; the experience is simply so powerful and so dreadful that you may wish you were dead. And when it’s over and when you’ve gotten over it, every time you develop a niggling of fear, you can’t help wondering, “Is this the buildup to yet another panic attack?” And the fear of another attack alone may give you another attack. It feeds back into itself continuously until your mental and physical health are shattered and you’re a mere fraction of your former self, wallowing in the corner blubbering in tongues that were never meant for human ears.
God save us.