Don’t Tell Me to Calm Down – Inside the Cycle of Panic
Laura Marie Marciano shares her story of being plagued by recurring anxiety attacks, and how she is learning to cope with them.
“Where's the purple crayon?” the question was pumping my little heart as I searched in drawers, under the bed, and in the bathroom. ¶ "We have to go, Laura, we will find it later," my mother called to me from downstairs.
I was frantic. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I felt my chest light on fire and my cotton shorts stick to my body as I fell into a deep sweat. I needed to put the purple crayon where it belonged. I did not want to leave this undone. I didn't know what was happening. I felt like I had completely lost control of my own thoughts, like an outside force was pushing me, punching me in the stomach, telling me ‘to figure it out’, make it happen, stop messing up!
“We can't leave until I find it! Mom we can't leave until I find it! We can't leave until I find it! We have to find the purple crayon! Please! Please! Please! Please! Please!” I screamed as I scurried around the house, my breath running short, and my eyes welling as if I had lost life itself.
This is my first memory of having an anxiety attack. I was seven years old.
Although an estimated 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from similar patterns, when you are stricken with panic you can't help but feel like the last and most desperate person on earth. At seven, my anxiety attacks concerned misplaced feelings that surfaced through missing objects. As I got older, it was personal relationships, communication, and my aversion to aggression and confrontation that triggered me.
I've been plagued by this condition since I was a child. I think I knew, even then, that the world was moving too fast for its own good. I couldn't process feelings as quickly as they came to me. As I got older, I presumed people just didn't give a fuck about each other, and things were going to hurt like hell and take my breath away on a daily basis.