Fainting Causes Me Extreme Anxiety Which Makes Me Faint

It’s a strange way to cope with stress

Christine Schoenwald
Jul 31 · 4 min read
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Photo by Kevin Laminto on Unsplash

I was nine-years-old and visiting family in Ireland. I was standing in front of an Irish butcher shop waiting for my uncle. There was a side of beef hanging in the window, and I noticed the butcher stroking the meat and wiping his bloody hands on his stained apron. The sight of the blood made me feel sick to my stomach, and I fainted.

The next thing I knew, I was lying on the sidewalk, and people were trying to avoid stepping on me while saying, “Top of the morning to ya.”

Some people get off on losing control, and they seek out situations where they don’t have to make decisions or take responsibility for what happens to them. However, it’s one thing to be actively seeking a loss of control, and another when it happens to you without your consent.

When I faint, I’m subject to the whims of my brain and central nervous system when they decide — not me — to shut down.

Syncope or fainting is a temporary loss of consciousness and happens when there isn’t enough blood traveling to the brain because of a drop in blood pressure.

Most people will faint at least once in their lives. Think of the runners who reach the finish line only to pass out from exhaustion and thirst, or people who faint when they’re stuck in a crowded, poorly ventilated room. Besides physical triggers, there are emotional ones such as fear, anxiety, or shock.

“I’m not okay dealing with this,” our bodies seem to indicate when we faint.

When I cut my knee open jogging, I made it to the bathroom only to faint while sitting on the toilet seat. I pass out when there’s spurting blood in movies, when I get a blood test, or when I’m experiencing high levels of stress.

If my body is in the process of fainting, there’s very little I can do to stop it. I feel hot, off-balance, and queasiness in my stomach, with each symptom growing in intensity until I’m unconscious.

I have coping mechanisms to help me deal with my anxiety connected to my fainting.

Pre-faint, I’ll try to get down on the floor, so I won’t cause any damage to my body as I fall to the floor. If I’m in a theater and the feeling comes on, I will touch the side of the metal chair, hoping for some coolness I can transfer to the back of my neck.

When I pass out, I tend to have dreams of meadows, birds singing, and flowers. It’s the only enjoyable part of the experience because when I come to, I’m often feeling the after-effects for a few hours or longer.

I’m always worried I’m going to faint, which only makes me more anxious. As I deal with my anxiety, I fear getting overwhelmed, stressed, and scared.

What if I faint somewhere dangerous? Somewhere that will not only cause me pain but someone else?

I’m hoping I’m less sensitive to past triggers. I’m better at watching blood and gore — as long as there are no animals involved — than I used to be.

I can get my blood drawn and not faint if I warn the phlebotomist, I’m a hard stick, and they need to find a usable vein right away — no digging around looking for a viable vein or I’m out.

The more I worry about fainting, the more my anxiety grows. Sometimes my fear morphs into phobias. I can’t drive on the freeway because I’m sure I’ll cause a terrible accident if I happen to lose consciousness.

I’m probably not going to faint, but that belief doesn’t stop me from worrying about it all the time.

Feeling as if I’m in control of my body and mind is the one good thing about sheltering in place. There are many other reasons for me to be anxious and fearful, but they don’t make me scared of becoming incapacitated or putting others in danger when I’m at home.

At home, I’m in control, or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Invisible Illness

We don't talk enough about mental health.

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