Getting Back to “Okay”

When I woke up, I couldn’t tell where the nightmare stopped and reality began. It was all the same.

Imagine having a radio in your head, cranked up to full blast, and the stations changing every few seconds. Wave after crashing wave of gibberish, so loud in your mind you can barely think to breathe.
Your heart pounds through your chest, oxygen seems to stop working, and it’s all you can do to stop from screaming because you can’t get enough air in to make a sound.

Even when it finally stopped, I didn’t know how to roll over and explain it to Emily, who had just gotten in to bed beside me. Any words I wanted to say felt like they first had to come down a long tunnel to get to my brain and then out of my mouth. At 35 years old, I buried my face in my wife’s shoulder and sobbed until the words finally arrived.

I’ve never been so terrified in my life. I couldn’t make my brain stop. It felt like I was losing my mind.”
Emily reached over and held me. “You’re fine. It was an anxiety attack. I know how those feel.”

Animated line drawing of a person with bags under their wide eyes, clutching their head and nodding back and forth in panic.
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