How to Disguise a Subway Panic Attack as Stress Over Running Late

So you’re having a panic attack on the subway: Maybe you smoked a little bit too much weed, maybe the crowd is getting to you, or maybe your anxiety disorder is just acting up today. Whatever the case, you’ll have to do your best to convince the strangers around you that you’re acting super weird not because of a panic attack, but because the train took wayyy too long and now you’re obviously super late. Here’s how!


Look at the time on your phone a bunch and sigh.

Checking the time on your phone over and over will make you appear as if you’ve got someplace important to be, even if you’re actually checking the clock because you’re timing your anxiety attack and it usually peaks at minute two. Pepper in a few frustrated glares and sighs at the next stop tracker, and no one will have any idea about the surging feelings of complete panic currently building up inside you! Plus, deep breathing really helps!


File through some papers frantically.

Take out some business-y looking paperwork and frantically fan through it. While everyone around you will think you’re getting last-minute organized for a big, important presentation that you’re currently running late for, you can silently count the page numbers to focus on something other than the deep yet vague feelings of dread you’re trying to work your way through in such a confined and inescapable environment!


Continue making deep, impatient sighs.

If you really want to alert the people around you to the fact that you need to be somewhere ASAP, keep on sighing. Again, this will stop you from hyperventilating as a natural reaction to the severe panic attack, but it will let you bond with fellow traingoers who actually think they’re feeling the same thing as you. Add a few dramatic eye rolls in time with your sighs, and the strangers will smile and nod approvingly. It is not socially acceptable to show weakness!


Stare up at the ceiling and tap your toe.

Give staring up at the ceiling while tapping your toe a try! This move is the international sign of “I need to get somewhere” and the straphangers in your immediate vicinity will totally relate! You can channel all your anxiety into the rhythm you’re keeping with your toes and they’ll have no idea that you’re desperately trying to push down the feeling that you’re going to throw up, have a heart attack, cry, and maybe also pass out while trapped on a moving train. Oh, and you’re sweating a lot. But you’re pulling it off with this sauve tap!



Having an anxiety attack in public is the worst. With these few tips, you can successfully trick the witnesses to your panic into thinking that you’re just a regular ol’ city gal with no mental health issues whatsoever who just happens to be running really, really late. They get it!