Describing a Panic Attack – Book Excerpt

Hi folks! Been a while since I’ve posted, but things have been pretty crazy (some good, some less good…but mostly good!).

I was reading an inspiring blog about depression and anxiety, and I really liked how it shed light on the topic, with the basic message being that it’s an invisible illness, where one might look completely alright on the outside instead of molding to the stereotype that we’ve created for people who are depressed.

It inspired me to share an excerpt from my book, Kaleidoscope, in which the main character, Jade, shares a first-person perspective of how a panic attack feels on the inside. I tried to describe it in a way that made it relatable to those who have never experienced a panic attack, so hopefully I did the job!


I couldn’t decide if it was the dizzying pace or the excitement of the events happening that made me so lightheaded, but I tilted my head back and breathed deeply in an attempt to steady myself. Instead, this only served to increase my anxiety. It was frustrating that I didn’t understand why I felt so uneasy in the presence of someone who was so captivating and so…real.

I looked around his room as I stroked his hair, and I tried to anchor myself. Austin’s hands slid effortlessly down the length of my torso, wrapping around to my backside as he propped himself on his knees and nuzzled his warm face over my breasts.

My eyes were still closed, and I was still breathless. Part of it came from the thrilling electricity of Austin’s touch in places that were new to me, but it was something else too. My sudden anxiety had made it literally difficult to breathe. Why was this happening? The question itself was troubling. It added yet another layer to my deepening sense of fear.

Without warning, a stabbing pain jolted through my temples and into the front of my head like a laser beaming itself through my brain. I grimaced, relinquishing my hands from Austin’s body and snapping them up to either side of my head. All of the fire in my veins had travelled to my head and was threatening to explode like an atomic bomb.

What is it? Are you alright?” Austin pulled back, half laying down and half sitting beside me, his eyes now wide with worry.

I heard him asking the question, but it sounded far away, like a television show playing in the background of the living room. My hands and feet began to tingle, and a wave of panic swept over me. My breath quickened, and I struggled to breathe as if I were being pulled away by an undertow of fear; I tried to inhale oxygen as quickly as I could, but it never seemed like enough to keep me from drowning.

I shut my eyelids tight, scrubbing my palms over my face and covering my eyes. In the darkness behind my lids, images flashed before me seemingly at random. There was a dive restaurant where I sat across from the familiar-looking face of a girl with short, auburn hair and brown eyes, who was giggling furtively at her cell phone.

I saw pages of e-mails, one after the other, and a phone ringing incessantly in the background. “Where are you?” some of the messages read. “We’re worried about you! Call us!”

Voices rang in my head in time with the phone. They were muffled..voicemails, perhaps. “Hey Jade! This is Sandy…we were gonna invite you to the end-of-the-year pool party, but since we haven’t heard from you in like a month…you’ve just been so weird lately. But if you still want to come, just gimme a call.”

The flashes of messages, the voices, and the persistent ringing all gathered together like a hurricane. It was impossible to think. The voices became angry; these were people that I knew, people I had once cared about…and they hated me because they believed I had abandoned them.

What, just because you moved, now you don’t want to see us? It’s not like you even moved that far away!”

What were these? The images flitted in and out of my head like pages in a scrapbook being constantly turned, and I realized the significance of the nanosecond images.

These were pieces of my past. The images came faster and faster, as if someone were flipping pages of animation on a big screen inside of my head. I saw Christmas lights at a downtown shopping center, car rides with girls and their moms to an ice skating rink, the high school where I’d transferred to when we moved, the whispered rumors in their halls that came to an uncomfortable halt as I walked by, resuming only once I was far enough away that I couldn’t hear them…

The ringing had become a constant buzz that infiltrated my rational thinking and my ability to pull myself out of this panic attack. The images were too many and too fast…I feared my brain would explode if I even dared to move. This chaos compounded with the sound of someone screaming in the background. Wait, was that me screaming?

And then, without warning, the images came to a miraculous halt. The still darkness behind my eyelids lasted for only a moment, however, before it slowly began to cloud into the memory of a dimly lit bathroom on a warm, cloudless evening when I was fifteen years old.

And then, I remembered everything.


If you’re interested in reading more, you can order my book on Amazon in either paperback or Kindle format by clicking the image below! Thanks for reading. =3 Please let me know in the comments what you thought!