Hyper-aware of my existence (intense panic... - Anxiety Support

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Hyper-aware of my existence (intense panic anxiety)

Cuphead profile image

Greetings everyone,

I know it sounds crazy and surreal, but did you ever have the feeling of actually being afraid of your own consciousness (awareness)? Like you suddenly realize you are stuck in your body and just the fact that you are existing gives you intense panic-like anxiety. It's like you became aware of your own awareness, you freak out, and then the mind wants to escape from reality because being conscious is "overwhelming" for some reason.

It is such a weird feeling, it drives me crazy and it has turned into a 24/7 obsession. My mind is fixated on it now. And I am not suicidal at all, which makes it even more confusing.

I had this feeling before as well from time to time and it was triggered by a panic attack I believe. But now, all of a sudden, I am stuck in this "autoloop" where I have this hyper-awareness feeling all the time and I constantly dread my own existence. I always feel like I will have a panic attack (and often I do end up having one) because of this as well (especially in the morning). The feeling produces intense anxiety. The fact that I am conscious suddenly feels weird and overwhelming for some reason now.

I've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder but I didn't start the treatment yet. I just don't know what to do, I'm afraid I will be stuck in this mindset forever. It is so hopeless :(

Any advice would be grateful. I really feel like I lost my mind and I will never return to normal.

25 Replies

Welcome Cuphead, you are not alone.You will not be stuck in this mindset forever.

The first thing that is necessary is to break the cycle of fear.

This can be helped with therapy and maybe medication just to get you

started in going forward with your life.

There is nothing to fear but fear itself.

Your mind is like a car with a dead battery, you can't move forward.

Once the battery is charged, you will go ahead with your life.

We are here to help see you through your issues.

I'm glad you are here with us. :) xx

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Agora1

Thank you so much for your warm message, it made me feel better. I am not sure if this is depersonalization perhaps mixed with OCD. I had similar thoughts before from time to time, I have had anxiety for years. I would often become hyper-aware of myself to the point of feeling stuck in my body and "wanting to escape". But I didn't pay too much attention, it would go away when I distract myself. But now, for some reason, I became fixated on it and I even forgot how "normal" feels like. I made it way worse by wanting to "resolve" it.

It is so strange for my own awareness to give me such high anxiety. I didn't like sleeping a lot, but now I do (even though I often fail to sleep well because of these feelings), it is the only time I have a break from being conscious.

I think high levels of anxiety and panic attacks triggered this episode. And I have been under severe stress lately (the pandemic is a huge factor but there are other things as well).

Agora1 profile image
Agora1 in reply to Cuphead

I totally understand. Many people were pushed to the edge with this Pandemic.Our Anxiety became 10 times worse. Just like Anxiety....Covid is an unpredictable

issue always hanging over our head.

There is a good theory about Acceptance being the "key" to success.

A Dr. Claire Weekes' wrote "Hope & Help for Your Nerves" years ago.

A video of her theory is also on YouTube. Very worth while in listening to.

As you talk with others on this safe site, take away from it things that may

help you. Sharing our journeys with mental health issues can allow you to

think more clearly and hopefully find answers.

I have long broken the cycle of fear and found myself once again.

I am now here to pass by success forward. You're going to be okay :) xx

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Agora1

Yes, this year was especially stressful and I was kind of stuck in the fight-flight mode without even realizing it. And just when things got a bit better, I started having panic attacks more often and I started focusing on them which led to more panic attacks and more anxiety, etc........and then I developed this sensation. But, as I said, these thoughts were popping up before as well, I just didn't care so much and they were not present in my head 24/7 like they are now. That's the main problem, I believe, if they were not lingering in my mind all the time, I probably wouldn't care so much.

But your messages have certainly given me the reason to not give up on the good fight. I will check out "Hope & Help for Your Nerves". And I agree, sharing our struggles is very helpful as well :)

Thank you so much, I really appreciate your support.

abaca1234 profile image
abaca1234 in reply to Agora1

Very good advice, Great book!

Agora1 profile image
Agora1 in reply to abaca1234

Thank you, it's been the foundation for my healing. :) xx

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Agora1

I am going through the book now, I really love what I am reading and it helped me "forget" about my awareness/consciousness, even though it was briefly. The last couple of days have not been as horrible as the weeks before, but I am still having this uncomfortable thought in my head. It's definitely hyperawareness OCD, I believe. If only I didn't think about it so deeply, it wouldn't bother me so much........I had it before as well, and back then I didn't care. It was uncomfortable, but I would quickly focus on something else and it would fade. And now I've developed this obsession by trying to solve it and it became way worse. Now, even when I relax, the mind subconsciously still wants to return to a state of panic.

Still, the fact that I managed to "forget" about it, even though it was briefly gives me hope that, at least, I can reach the state where I have the thought but it doesn't trigger such intense anxiety as it does now. That would be such a relief.

Right now, I feel the best after eating (especially after taking some chocolate....dopamine certainly helps) and the worst when going to sleep and waking up. That indicates my anxiety levels are high, I will have to focus on bringing them down.

The book is a move in the right direction, I will keep reading it!

Yes definitely have felt that many times and it was unsettling kind of feeling. Never caused a severe panic or anxiety. Have you tried keeping your mind busy with reading or learning something new? Does it help? Brain is a very weird thing and it can do scary things. But we can also train it to work differently. Maybe there is a therapy that will help from thinking too deeply about things.

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Sam1109

Yes, distraction is what works the best for me, this is the only thing that is helping so far. I think I had this feeling popping up often in the past as well, but I didn't care about it and it never bothered me significantly. Sadly, now the mind became fixated on it and the sensation became "omnipresent". I am trying to distract myself with other things and this does work. It doesn't eliminate the thought but it makes it more bearable. I am trying to avoid medications, but in the worst-case scenario, it's not a bad option if things get out of control.

Sam1109 profile image
Sam1109 in reply to Cuphead

That's a good start though. Brain is elastic. It takes some time to change the "shape". This is how I control my anxiety since I don't want to take any serious meds. After pretending to be normal and not worrying about when the next attack will come, brain gets used to that idea and anxiety for real stays away. So keep doing that. If it gets bad at bed time, fall asleep listening to a podcast or something on tv with a lot of talking. This also helps me stay out of my mind. Otherwise i think myself to insanity and can't sleep.

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Sam1109

You are right, I need to be persistent no matter how long it takes........I would have 1 good day maybe 2, and then I would "relapse". What also made things worse is the fact that I had so much time for myself, so it was easy to get lost in this "deep thinking". If I was occupied with other things, things probably wouldn't get so out of control. But yes, even though the thought is still present all the time, distracting myself does help, and I found that eating helps as well. I feel the best after having lunch (for a couple of hours).

Just like you, I don't want to take meds and they are the last option (if everything else fails). But it's helpful to know that I am not alone in fighting this thing, I literally thought I was the only one.

Sam1109 profile image
Sam1109 in reply to Cuphead

One reason you can feel stuck in your body is if your body is causing you discomfort for a long time and you don't see an end to it. For me it's back pain and headache among other things. Maybe you have something like that. If so then see your doctor and try to get healthy. Fix all the problems. That would be the first step in this case.

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Sam1109

Oh and as for other things....I actually have no other symptoms, it's just anxiety. It's just that realization that you are "stuck and can't run away". I was having panic attacks before this feeling and that was also caused by "the urge to run away".........and I think a fear of a panic attack evolved into this sensation.

Yes! I’ve never had my feelings described so accurately and you’re the first person I’ve ever been totally able to identify with. Sometimes I almost want to hide from MYSELF. I once tried to tell a therapist about it and she said that I can’t be a very nice person if even I don’t want to spend time with myself or am freaked out by my presence!! I’m sorry for you but am also grateful to you for making me feel not so isolated. Blessings on you.

Thank you! It appears this sensation is much more common than we think. How are you now?

What that therapist said is certainly not nice, it doesn't have anything to do with what kind of people we are. I adore living and I am not suicidal, and yet, I have this sensation lingering in my head. It is anxiety that gives us these thoughts, unfortunately.

Hello, I understand a lot of what’s happening as I have similar ordeals. First understand that the Adrenalin and cortisol are putting you in this loop, the more you think that feeling is a bad thing, the more the loop continues. Key here is to break off these thoughts, instead try and float with them and focus on another thought/s that make you happy, or happy memories. Anxiety can be a monster, but that monster can be tamed. You are normal, not going crazy, but your worrying has brought you to this point, try hard very hard to calm down, and focus on some thoughts which are not worrying, trust me it will subside, the body can only produce so much of these chemicals, then it just will stop. How long has this been going on?

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to abaca1234

Hello, thank you for your message and your support. You are right, I completely agree. I am aware that my own feelings are causing the loop to keep on going, but as you probably know, it is very hard to break the cycle :( And it is such a weird feeling to actually be disturbed by the fact you are alive and conscious. I adore life, I don't like sleeping a lot because I feel I am missing out on something, but ever since this episode started, I started to appreciate sleeping because at that point I can finally get a break from being conscious. When I manage to sleep properly, but that is a challenge with anxiety like this. Such an irony.

You are right, though, I have to focus on the things I like, which is the best way to neutralize this hyper-awareness feeling. The last couple of days have been somewhat better, they weren't as horrible as the weeks before, and at times, I would forget about the feeling. It is a brief relief, but it gives me hope that, with dedication, I can at least reach the state where I am getting this thought/sensation, but it doesn't trigger such horrible anxiety. That would be quite a relief.

The episode started in August. I was first having longer and more intense panic attacks than before and I started obsessing over the panic attacks which ultimately lead to this hyper-awareness thing. But I actually had this hyper-awareness before as well. I just didn't care about it and it didn't bother me significantly. Yet, now I tried to resolve it and I've made everything way worse :(

Sorry to hear you are going through a similar thing, I hope you will feel better ASAP.

Yes, all of your symptoms describe panic attacks. I have nausea, heart flutters, coughing attacks, and feelings of just not being here all of the time everyday. I'm not going to say just get on the right medication or do some breathing exercises because I don't like it when people say that to me and just don't have a clue how much you are suffering. Panic is Panic! You have to find out what is causing this for you. Unfortunately, it could be so many things. I have vitamin deficiencies that cause me panic attacks. I have a genetic component because my mom has panic attacks. Have you tried EDMR ( rapid eye movement) someone introduced me to that the other day on this forum and it has distracted me when I'm going towards an attack. I might be crazy but I snap my fingers, slap myself in the face, and concentrate on 3 items in the room to try to snap out of it. Anything to try to say " I can't let myself go down this road because it will only escalate further if I don't try to stop it.

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Fallin77

Thank you for your message! Yes, it started as a fear of having further panic attacks and developed into this bizarre feeling where you are scared of existing. It's like you suddenly realize "omg, I am alive" and it gives you a rush of panic and anxiety because you feel "stuck". It is really strange because I like the fact that I am aware, and yet anxiety makes me uncomfortable with it.

Distraction helps and going on with the usual routine. When my anxiety levels drop even if temporarily, then it becomes bearable. And there are times when I would "forget" about it (which is such a relief). I will try slapping myself the next time an attack starts, sounds like a good idea. And no, I haven't tried EDMR, but I may consider it.

Yeah... I have had some periods of a few weeks where I don't have the attacks and I kind of start to forget and think "Hey! My life is not so bad" but then I know when it is coming. It's really hard to explain what is going on. I just know right now I can't sleep or relax at all even when I should be calming down because nothing is happening that is detrimental. I guess once your " fight or flight" response gets activated. You just can't stop them from reoccurring, you start to overreact to everything that is going on in your body and interpret it as an attack is coming. It is very nice to talk to other people who have a similar experience. Thanks!

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Fallin77

Yes, the same thing is happening to me. You've described it perfectly. And this is the essence of OCD, the thought keeps on returning, giving you anxiety. I've had this feeling before as well, but it would come and go, and once I start feeling better, I would switch focus and feel great. But once my mind started obsessing about it, it became a big issue. And even when I do relax, my mind is still thinking about it, thus creating anxiety and this overwhelming feeling of being alive. I am giving my best to train myself to "not care" and think positively. It does help. It doesn't resolve the problem, but it makes it much more bearable for sure. At the end of the day, we have to remind ourselves it is "just" anxiety and we are fine. This helps in the long run. And yes, speaking to someone who is also going through this helps a lot as well!

I appreciate you bringing up OCD. I have never really thought of the problem being OCD but now that you mention it, I did have obsessions in the past and they had nothing to do with panic attacks or my health. I no longer have those obsessions so I guess I just occupy my time with these anxious feelings. I guess I will have to dig further into a treatment for OCD. I have tried ketamine treatment but I'm finding out that it's horrible for anxiety. If I was only depressed it would probably work but the sensations that ketamine causes really freaked me out the first time. I just wanted to take off my mask and start running as fast as I could. YES, you are right I know I am just having anxiety and I'm not going to die from heart palpitations....even though this is how I feel at the moment. Thanks again for the insight!

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Fallin77

Yes, my psychiatrist said I have some symptoms of OCD (a recurring thought of "existence being overwhelming") which creates this feeling, and as I've said, it became like a loop that never ends..........even when I relax, I have the thought pushing me back into the anxious state. It is so horrible. Today I had quite a bad day, but I am getting a vaccine tomorrow, so there is some anxiety related to that as well. It is like a cycle.........the worst thing is that it is often hard to relax. You tell yourself that you are fine, that these are just thoughts, but you are still overwhelmed. I might be trying some medications soon.

Have you found any meds helpful?

Hi, I'm sorry that I can't help you with meds because the only thing that ever worked for me was Xanax because it gets you out of that mental stage and brings you back really fast. I am no longer on that because my psychiatrist for 15 years moved away and his replacement refused to prescribe it for me ( some people just don't have a heart) I always took it only if necessary. I too would like to know if there is any other medication that might help panic attacks. I have been on Wellbutrin, Prozac & Lamictal for 15 years and that combo seems to work for depression & bipolar mood changes but no help with the anxiety.

Cuphead profile image
Cuphead in reply to Fallin77

Yes I've heard Xanax can help, doctors often prescribe it here. So you've also had SSRIs, I heard they can be effective in anxiety disorders as well, but I guess it depends from one person to another. Different meds work differently on different people.

I will get my appointment with a psychiatrist tomorrow. For now, it will just be a talk, but we will see if there is a need for some medications.

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