From time to time I ask myself this question, Do you believe in guardian angels? And my gut response is to say no, of course not. But then I think back to one particular day when I know I wasn’t alone, and I’m not so sure.
May and June of 2003 are what I like to refer to as The Spring of the Panic Attacks: I was overtaken by my anxiety to the point that I honestly thought I had some terminal illness. My attacks happened nearly everyday for a week, mostly out of nowhere, with no warning, no easy way out.
The following is an account of the worst panic attack I’ve ever had. Time has not dulled the memory of this attack and the accompanying encounter, nor has it made me ‘come to my senses’. I offer no explanations or excuses; this is simply my experience.
I’m a few days shy of my twenty-first birthday and I’m in my bedroom. This is the room I have slept in my entire life, in my parents’ house. Completely safe, right? I’m just hanging out, not doing anything in particular, certainly nothing stressful – and I begin to get lost in my anxiety.
Why am I having these attacks? What am I doing with my life? Am I going to live with Mom and Dad forever? So I have some disease? This can’t just be anxiety, there’s no way that’s all it is. I need to figure this out, I hate this, I hate this, I hate it.
Somehow I’m lying on the floor. My body no longer feels something that I can control. This is the manifestation of my anxiety: tears, trembling shaking shuddering. Sweat on my forehead, down my back, behind my knees, under my breasts. Shallow, quick breaths. Heartbeat off the charts. Tachycardia, as they said in the emergency room a few days ago.
My hands are on my chest, as if by pressing down hard enough, I can slow my heartbeat and quell this panic. It’s not working; I’m beginning to feel hopeless. This is not going to end. This is the most scared I have ever been.
This is terrifying.
If I can’t slow my heartbeat, maybe my hands can slow my breathing. They are now around my throat. There is no logic here. There is only my panic and the desire to find a way out. I try choking myself: I need to stop this out of control breathing, and then I won’t feel this way anymore. As long as this feeling ends, that’s all I care about.
This is where things get hard to put into words. Something comes over me, a break in the fear and panic. I feel surrounded by what I can only describe as the opposite of panic. Safety. Comfort. Love. I sense –I have no idea how, or what exactly this means- but I sense the presence of my godfather, Eddie. [Eddie died just before I was born, but my parents and godmother, Julia, talked about him throughout my childhood. Julia always signed cards Love, Julia and your godfather Eddie in Heaven.]
I’m not even sure how I know it’s him. I certainly don’t see anything, it’s not like that. It’s just a sense, as if my soul and his have already met on some other plane, outside of space and time, and here he is now, helping me in this awful moment. Here is the spirit (presence? energy?) of a man who I have never met, never been able to talk with or hug. I am sobbing with relief and gratitude. Oh my god, I can breathe again, it’s okay, I’m okay. It’s over. I’m going to be okay.
Eddie’s presence does not linger. I am assured that I am all right, that I do not have to be afraid, and the panic attack is over. My mind has released its grip on me.
I am back on the floor in my bedroom, my breathing slowly getting back to normal. I must have been calling for my mother because here she is, rushing through the doorway and apologizing, saying she didn’t hear me, she’s sorry that I was alone. We’re both crying; she hugs me and I am so humbled, so grateful. I am safe.
I am okay.
I’m moved by this account. I have anxiety too, althoguh not as badly as that which you experienced. I can understand this experience got you thinking about guardian angels.
I’m sorry you suffer from anxiety too, Astrid (off topic, but I love your name!). Thanks for coming by 🙂
All I can say is wow. That is absolutely amazing and it really makes you think and wonder. I can only imagine what you went through and how you felt at the time. I’ve certainly had experiences that have made me think twice about whether or not guardian angels are real and part of me thinks they are because of some of the things I’ve been through. Amazing story and I’m glad I get to start my day with it in mind.
Thank you so much for this kind comment, Felicia. I felt a little bit funny about sharing this (and I’ve barely ever even talked about it), but I’m glad I did. Sounds like you’ve had some memorable experiences, too! The main thing to take away from something like this is that we feel loved and supported, and isn’t that the most important thing?
I’m feeling so much for you right now. Wow. What an experience you had…then to share it this many years later for us, the readers! It definitely makes you stop and wonder if guardian angels exist. Amazing.
Yeah, I kind of feel weird that I shared it, but #sharingiscaring 😉 It was super emotional when I was first recalling that day and writing down the first draft, but now I’m just glad I haven’t had anything like that happen in such a long time.
Such a relatable account of what anxiety can be like. You’re so lucky to have family that understands your struggles and helps guide you through. Having a guardian angel is pretty cool too 🙂
Thanks, Jenny- I do feel lucky! I don’t even want to imagine some of my worst moments if I had been alone.
I’ve had mini panic attacks but none that overwhelming and serious. What you’ve been through I am so sorry. I believe guardian angels exist. Thank you for sharing your story. It’s very eye opening and inspirational.
I’m glad you liked it, Jazmine. I’m sorry you’ve even had mini panic attacks! They’re awful, no matter the intensity level.
I think I have what is called anxiety attacks more than panic, but I had a panic attack once or twice and it was a bit like what you described. Quick, though. And I was in a car and just pulled over to settle myself.
I’m definitely moved by the idea of a helpful and calming presence and I don’t find it to be unbelievable. At all. Believable.
I had an attack in the car once, too, but I was in the backseat, thankfully. Glad you were able to pull over!
this is really deep and thought provoking. It does seem like we do have someone watching over us 🙂
Thanks for visiting, Kelsey. I wonder…! 🙂
Thank you for sharing this Christy. I think you may have helped someone who didn’t know what they were experiencing.
I myself, I know it all to well. I too thought at one time I was suffering from terribly illness, but it was all in my mind.
Actually blogging has helped me tremendously.
Wishing you all the best!
ps. I tweeted this 🙂
Thank you for the Twitter love! 🙂 Blogging has helped me so much- I think the support is why I continue to write about mental health stuff like this. If I’m not helping someone out, then someone is definitely helping me in some way. Thank you for your sweet words!
Thank you, Christy. I can barely find the words to express how I felt reading your experience, and the sense of dear Eddie’s presence and feeling protected. I love you very much and I completely trust and believe you and all of us have guardian angels, and “I am with you always….and forever.”
P.S. I just re-read your words, and see that you wrote Eddie died before you were born. I am writing to tell you we have to talk about it! There’s a picture of him, holding tiny little you, when I brought you to his hospital room to meet you. So, he met you in person, and I thought you’d like to know that! <3
Oh man, what was I thinking! I remember that picture. I think I always got confused with him and Grandpa- Grandpa died before I was born, Eddie after- two men I knew of but never knew. Thanks Mom! xoxo
First off, thanks for sharing this, Christy! Yet again, you share something vulnerable and personal and I always admire you for that! I think that this is something that can feel strange to talk about (speaking about the guardian angels) because everyone has such a different experience with spirituality. It’s hard to even put language or words to it because it’s so TRANSCENDENT. That said, I definitely know that as humans, we barely know anything about the Universe we’re a part of. We like to think we know, but we don’t. But I don’t doubt that what you experienced was real! And that it sounds awesome! I think that… there’s so much that we don’t know, but to know you are loved and comforted in one of your darkest times is one of the most hopeful and beautiful things about life. 🙂
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You’ve inspired me with your vulnerability countless times as well! It definitely feels strange to talk about, but even as I write that, I’m wondering why I don’t at least *think* about these kinds of things more often. I’m definitely more grounded in the real world and trying to be in the present moment. That last line of yours…. <3 Thank you for this, Erika.
Thanks for this my love!
Am I too cray to still be your wife? 😉
Very intense – I know the feeling it’s such a vulnerable state to be in but one you can’t help stop. Thankfully this is the one horrible instance you can recall. I definitely know mine and it was very scary, my roommate was with me though so she helped a lot. It’s also a great thing when you’re not alone during those moments, support is vital during times like those. I didn’t tell my family until much later and they weren’t much help but that’s why therapists exist! 😀 Hope you’re doing better and thanks for sharing, it’s a very accurate account! Have a great one Christy! -Iva
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Oh, I’m glad your roommate was with you during your scariest time…! I hear you, I’ve had a few wonderful therapists over the years and I’m not sure how I would have gotten through those high anxiety times without them. I’m certainly doing better lately; thank you for you sweet words, Iva. I wish you well also!
I do believe they are guardian angels in our lives. Our, maybe I just choose to believe they exist. After all, I guess that’s what beliefs are, right? Either way, I’m glad you came or of that particular experience feeling safe, loved, and protected. 🙂
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Exactly, that’s what beliefs are! 🙂 It’s quite a personal topic; there is no right or wrong here. Thank you for sharing and I appreciate your comment!
I had my very first anxiety attack just recently and it was very similar with your experience. I was also in my bedroom, I was getting ready to sleep after not getting a job that I wanted so bad, In my mind I was already at peace with it but my subconscious apparently was not. I was lying in my bed and I suddenly realized that my heart was beating so fast and I thought that I was just tired and I can just sleep it off , but I just can’t sleep all sort of thought kept running through my head and at the same time I can hear the hard pounding of my heart, I thought I was having a heart attack but good thing I remembered something I read before about meditating to keep you calm in this type of this situation, I did that and was able to get y heart to beat normally again after that I searched the internet and found out from the symptoms that I had an anxiety attack, since then I’ve been searching for way to cope with my anxiety.
Thank you for sharing this post. My son suffers from both anxiety and depression and is learning how to manage these. Reading your post helps me to understand a little of what he may feel sometimes. I also enjoyed reading about your sensing a guardian angel. I do hope that we all have angels watching over us 🙂
Thanks for this comment, Julie! It’s tough when you’re first learning to manage anxiety and depression- no, tough is an understatement. It’s pretty terrible at times! I’m glad you could get something beneficial out of my story and I wish you and your son well!