One of the worst things about lasting anxiety attacks is that they often lock you into the place/state you are in, taking away your chances to take a breath and recover.
When you’re already ‘barely hanging on’, you will always instinctively choose the path of least resistance = the path that will bring less new anxiety. Which will also meant sticking to the ‘normal’ or the ‘routine’ that brought you into the place with anxiety in the first place.
For example, if you had your anxiety attack start during the night and last almost all the way till morning, preventing you from sleeping and making you feel like shit when you’re alarm trying to get you up for work, it would be a logical decision to call in sick and rest at home for a day, or at least take first half of the day off. However, the amount of anxiety involved in ‘picking up the phone to call work and tell them that you’re not feeling well and will take a sick day’ involves 2-3 times more anxiety than ‘make yourself get up and go to work as usual (even though there are people there)’. So you get up, no matter how bad you feel. Because, chances are, the worse you feel, the less chances there are to find strength to pick up the phone.
The same happens when you’re already at work and have an attack there. On one hand, you’re clearly not well, and your body tells you that it can’t continue on, and you need to get out. On the other hand, breaking the ‘everyday normal’, getting up to explain to people that you need to go home, bringing attention to yourself by doing all that, too often feels like something that will bring more anxiety than you can already handle. So again you sit there trying to imagine which is worse.
Getting out of your anxiety attack by yourself is very difficult, because it feels like quicksand – as in any kind of struggle you imagine attempting seems like it will only suck you deeper. It feels safer to stay still where you are and save your energy. And it’s really hard to know which of the options is actually the correct one this time around.