Scraping away at my skin from the inside like some alien force that I just have to get out. Any time I have a panic attack it digs in. Just scraping me raw, making me itch. Not just itch but the need to peel flesh from my body to get it to stop.
Years ago when my anxiety started I would hyperventilate, but people noticed that which drew too much unwanted attention. I learned to mostly control that symptom so my body internalized it. No one noticed the thumb scratching away at my hand or arm as I escaped the crowds. But anxiety comes for various reasons, the more intense the more I had to get it out.
I’ve tried cutting it out with knives. Dont worry, no pictures of that. Works to distract and calm the intense itching at the time but leaves marks on you body that people ask about. Then leave scars as reminders of how I couldn’t control my anxiety. How I couldn’t be like most people and just deal with it.
I saw a post on Tumblr a couple years ago about using a sharpie or marker (NOT a pen) to draw on oneself instead of cutting. I’m not much of a doodler so I wrote the litany of things I was telling myself in an attempt to calm the panic attack. It kept me from scratching. It kept me from bleeding.
Unfortunately, panic attacks don’t choose convenient times or places. They don’t wait for you to have a sharpie woth you. They come with a blink of an eye, whatever triggered them. Doesn’t have to be rational to trigger the attacks. And then I start scratching. I scratch until I bleed all the while screaming in my head to stop. It just won’t go away.
Life will settle, my skin will heal, and I will continue looking for healthier ways to deal with the alien cheese grater that shreds my body.