Rush hour panic

Most of the time I have my anxiety relatively well under control, but every now and then it slips out and I find that I am entirely overwhelmed by my situation.

Such was the case today. Victoria station, rush hour. I normally avoid rush hour, or plan ahead, but today I was exhausted, my legs were already wobbly, my breathing already shallow and, whilst it shouldn’t be a contributing factor, my phone was dead. I had totally failed to consider that when I got off my train I would be entering the mayhem and anxiety inducing chaos of Victoria station in rush hour.

It is hard to adequately explain what happens when an anxiety attack hits, but here goes.

It starts with the image of hundreds of people, many with suitcases, ahead. Then you are amongst them, all walking at different speeds, some pushing, some dawdling, some deciding to stop directly ahead. A ton of noise all bouncing around and the battle to find the exit.

All of this causes my brain to freeze, the oxygen is apparently sucked out of the air, my legs get wobblier, my vision goes slightly blurry. Each bump and shove causes me to mutter and mumble aloud – nothing distinct really, but a vague sort of panic bought on by the chaos of the situation.

I find a quiet (ish) corner and breathe slowly for a few minutes, convincing myself that the world isn’t actually falling apart, it is possible to reach the bus and then the safety of home, and that actually if I just take a few steps I will be fine.

When I got home, I was all wound up. Writing this has calmed me down. Now I might have a proper conversation with my husband, and a cuddle with the dog and admire the rainbow and stunning sky out of the window.

Interestingly, in the midst of this panic, I overheard a snippet of conversation, and it stuck. So, to the man running a half marathon on the 29th November, I hope it goes well!


  • Katharine,

    I empathise wholeheartedly with your unfortunate events of today. It’s only when reading posts like this, that I realise just what a big portion of our lives are controlled and shaped by anxiety and the like.
    I remember when I was in my late teens, slowly but surly, one by one, we each in our social group began passing our driving tests. One friend confessed that he planed his entire car journey, from start to finish, by avoiding taking any right turns. I laughed, but I was doing the same ridiculous thing by my avoidance of crowded places. He of course made right turns in his car shortly after with no trouble at all, whilst I’m still avoiding crowds some thirty years on.
    I received some sound advice that helped a lot, a friend told me to get my head up when in crowded situations, to look around, look at people’s faces, to look up at buildings. It helped bring me out of that intense focused place, where everything becomes overwhelming and insular.
    I mumble too hahaha! I mean, what on earth is all that all about? I don’t think it’s all that noticeable these days, what with mobile phones and people talking into their hidden wires. From a distance it looks like someone’s having a full blown breakdown at the bus stop, but the reality is, they’re explaining to their partner on the mobile how a work colleague has upset them through the day.
    I think my point is this, avoidance of anything that conflicts with us functioning as productive human beings, is worse for us, than the actual doing. It’s a case of getting in the face of the playground bully.


  • I’ve only had four ‘panic attacks’ in my life. Two of them occurred at Waterloo Station. I rarely go to London, but when I do, just going through the Waterloo concourse now brings on anxiety symptoms. The absence of genuine threat makes it no less real. Stay strong. God bless you for all you do to raise awareness of mental disorders, and for your Christian witness

  • Hello Katharine,

    I was just wondering if yodeling should have 2 l’s but it comes up red when one puts yodelling.

    The other day I read about a combination of 3 herbs (A2X) – Ashwagandha, L-Theanine and Passion Flower which reduce anxiety and panic attacks. Ancient ayurvedic remedy apparently and unlikely to have any adverse side-effects.

    I’ve just sent off for some Ashwagandha pills online as they are meant to help one sleep – worth a try methinks,


  • Hi Katherine, so sorry today was such a beast. Been meaning to tell you for a wee bit that ideas one of the crowds in the rain listening to you at Greenbelt, and you talked about the peace that can come when people are open about their struggles. I just wanted you to know I was one of those you brought a lot of peace to that day. Thank you so much.

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