How to Break Panic Attacks
Part 1 of 2 The room was spinning. There were hundreds of people. Intelligent, impactful people. As I stood on the platform in front of the crowd, everything went blurry, out of focus, as though I was being sucked into a vortex. Blood rushed to my head and I couldn’t think. I couldn’t speak… something had to come out, but language evaded me. I leaned into the microphone. I tried to conjure up a string of words that would make sense, anything, just to release me from this state of panic. I desperately wanted to escape, as though it were a night terror that I was helplessly trying to snap myself out of; only I knew waking up wasn’t an escape, I was already awake, I could feel everything too vividly. There was no way of getting out, I was stuck in the mess.
This was one of many #PanicAttacks I personally experienced over several years. I’m not sure when they first crept into my life. I’ve always been a bit shy around people I don’t know, but I’d done plenty of public speaking over the years, which I could handle fine. But, the day when I stepped up to the microphone to accept a business award, I was riddled with stress – it was a hideous experience. #Anxiety simply had gotten the better of me.
I had been thinking about that awards night all day. It was a constant tug of war in my mind, wanting to win our business category, but dreading the idea of an acceptance speech on stage. Looking back, it’s easy to see the stress I had all around me – some of it I can stem back to key events, like when my 4-week old son went into emergency heart surgery, and the PTSD that followed. And for whatever reason, I can also be just a bit of an anxious person – I like to be perfect, but never meet that lofty standard. That night, in that season of my life, the two of those things well and truly collided and formed a lethal combination, breeding panic attacks that were becoming more regular by the day. #Claustrophobia of the mind. You freeze. You’re stuck. You can’t go backward, you can’t go forwards. There’s nothing you can do about it… at least, that’s what I believed at the time – that I was simply at the mercy of this malicious mind which showed up as it pleased. It was becoming more regular, and it was a lonely place. Most of all, it was a scary proposition living with the thought of future panic attacks – you begin panicking about panicking – how stupid is that! So you go to what comes naturally and avoid situations prone to giving rise to panic, perpetuating further anxiety.
I remember the conversation vividly. My wife and I were attending a course for families who had suffered from significant stress as a result of their child’s chronic heart condition. In a private conversation, I asked the psychologist hosting the course whether there’s anything you can do about panic attacks. I was surprised by how succinct her answer was. She simply said you can do two things. Reduce your daily life stress from a 9 to an 8. And, breathe. I’ve since learnt to add one more – gradual exposure.
1. Reduce Daily Stress
2. Deep Breathing
3. Gradual Exposure
Here’s the thing. If your general stress/anxiety levels are running at a 9, and your mind decides to hit that big red panic button, there’s not a whole lot of room until it gets to a 10 – panic territory. A speech, a social situation or facing something which caused #Trauma in the past. You think the event is the problem, hence you begin to avoid it. But if you take a good hard look at where your general stress levels are running at in life, and you work on dialing it down just a notch or two, you have wiggle room. Sure, your stress will still spike, but not usually to the point where panic attacks reside.
And Breathe. It’s so simple, but it’s one of the only things we have control over, and it makes a monumental difference. Put simply, we breathe faster when we stress, it’s our bodies natural way of getting more oxygen to our muscles, ready to run. This comes in handy when we’re being chased by a whatever. But when there is no real threat, just our mind wreaking havoc, we can manage panic by controlled breathing.
Fast forward a few years…
The auditorium was full of people. It was Father’s Day and I was speaking on a Q&A panel. It was about 3 years since the night I’d experienced that panic attack at the awards night. But… I was exercising regularly. Meditating. Sleeping regular hours. Slowing down. Being kinder to myself. And importantly, I’d been slowly exposing mysel
How to Break Panic Attacks
Part 2 of 2 f to public speaking… facing the giant villain in my head. This combination of lifestyle choices and gradual exposure reduced my stress levels down to a 7… 8 tops. Yes, I was packing myself, but I needed to do this. I knew I could do this because I had a game plan. The physiology behind a panic attacks wasn’t so foreign to me and made more sense. I went for a run that morning, and 10 minutes before I went down on stage I breathed.
In 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. I repeated this until I walked down onto the stage.
I’m not exactly sure what happened that day, but it’s as though everything just flowed seamlessly. I spoke without panic. I joked. I shared what I believed was important about life as a Dad. I was me, and it felt so good to share that. It’s hard to describe the high I was on after the panel… I liken it to the moment I landed on the ground after jumping out of a plane, parachuting for my 40th birthday. I was OK – no regrets.
What results in a panic attack for you? Common examples may be:
– Speaking in front of others
– Medical appointments such as going to the dentist
– Seeing a particular person
– A certain sound, smell or sight
– Being in small spaces
– Being in crowds
Panic attacks are terrifying. Period. But panic attacks can be physiologically explained. Likewise, they can be physiologically managed. Don’t judge yourself. Don’t avoid. Gradually expose yourself to that which is freaking you out. Reduce your general life stress down a notch or two. And as trivial as it sounds, remember to breathe. You’ve got this.
What is this thing called "Hope"? #seekingknowledge
What is this thing called hope? Yes, this is a serious question. What frame of reference do you use to explain something to someone who has never know or seen hope? We liken the situation to finding a single Waldo in a swarm of people who all look slightly like Waldo. But none ARE Waldo.
We are, at this point, 47 days into our 2 new Antidepressants, 21 days into our Antipsychotic and no change other than we sleep an added 1 to 2 hours a night. We are grateful for that. Our meds are increased every 2 weeks. I, since none of the other want to attend at this time, do video chat with at least 3 Doctors every week. The all tell me that hope will help us in this wait and see pattern we currently find ourselves stuck within.
We believe that everything in our universe has a counter balance. Night has Day. These are concrete, provable, repeatable facts available to establish what distinguishes Night from Day. Where "Hope" along with, it's 1st cousins the other emotions and "feeling" are all abstract concepts not grounded by facts.
What reference points does one use when trying to describe abstract concept of "hope" to one who has never seen or experienced it in their lifetime. How would you describe colours to a person who has never seen them? We have as little insight into what "hope" or any of the "emotions" are, at this point. What is this thing called "Hope" and where do we find it?
#SexualAbuse #SexualAssault #Childhoodneglect #DomesticAbuse #DID #raynauds #Fibromyalgia #MyalgicEncephalomyelitis #RheumatoidArthritis #DegenerativeDiscDisease #Hypertension #Trichiasis #irritableboweldisease #GeneralizedAnxietyDisorder #AnxietyDisorders #PanicAttacks #Agoraphobia #Insomnia #Rosacea #Claustrophobia #heartmurmur #ComplexPosttraumaticStressDisorder #Allergies #Dyslexia #OCD #Trichotillomania #cleithrophobia , #IntrusiveThoughts #SuicidalIdeation #haphephobia #EatingDisorder #MajorDepressiveDisorder #SocialPhobia #Acrophobia #Psychosis #DissociativeDisorder #audiohallucinations #visualhallucinations #intervert #raynauds
Fixing claustrophobia on my own
I have realized that it's not a mental or emotional issue or a condition, claustrophobia is actually lack of trust, it is the fear that we might not be heard, it is the loneliness. It's not the fear of dying its the fear of dying without anyone noticing or helping. It feels like what if I cry and cry for help but no body would be there to listen. It's the fear of being alone and not capable, not being independent.
So if you are claustrophobic please look into it from this view point and you will be amazed at it. May be you ll be able to find a solution for your self. #Claustrophobia #Thanatophobia #CTS #PCOS
I always try to be so perky and positive when I'm out and about. It's only my poor husband that gets to see me in my down moments. But last night and today are the exception. I am ANGRY. And FRUSTRATED.
I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and am living with the 2nd spinal stimulator for the last 7 years. It has never been that great a relief but 40 to 50% is better than nothing, right? That is until it wasn't.
We had recently moved from the north (with great doctors I can add) to the south with not so great (let's be honest: HORRID) doctors. It took a year to find that there was only one person in the northern part of the state that worked with the stimulator I have now. When we finally found him we also found that one of the two leads had come lose and was zapping my stomach, not my spine where it was intended.
The only remedy is to remove it and put new leads in. Doesn't help that my CRPS has morphed since it was placed and there needs to be new leads in new places. That's ok. Let's DO IT!
But now the doc needs an MRI. Ok. I have had several with the stim in place. In an OPEN MRI. I am getting no where near a closed one. First this state doesn't take "3rd party" insurance and since this was an auto accident I have to pay out of pocket and maybe get repaid by the insurance who knows when. 2ndly, I was stuck in a closed MRI for several hours a few years ago and will never get in another one. Their answer? Sedate me and let me sleep through it. Well, ok but...
Next hurdle, they might not be able to replace with the circular leads like before because of scar tissue. So, put in a paddle. Of course the paddle will cut my tendons and muscles, etc. and what little I can walk will be taken away and I will permanently be in a wheelchair. But "so what?" They shrug.
Now the final issue -- the damn doctor's office is setting up an appointment for me for the MRI. They have to find the right machine because of the claustrophobia and the stimulator but every person we talk to to schedule knows nothing about either of these issues and "will have to call you back."
How can I trust the doctors if they can't even get this basic information confirmed at the hospitals? I am scared to death to let them get anywhere near me. The first one I had implanted back at Rush Hospital, they nicked a motor nerve and the pain is 24/7 excruciatingly bad. I don't ever want to go through anything like that again.
So here's why I am down, depressed and angry. But it certainly isn't doing me any good. Neither is it good for my husband who gets angry and yells when he's scared, frustrated and doesn't know how to help. Picture this? Yelling at each other and having temper tantrums like little kids. It would be funny if I wasn't so upset.
But you can't live this way -- always in this state of mind and physical condition. What do you do then? Well, I'm writing it down. Telling you about it. Not so that you can tell me you're sorry it shouldn't have happened. cont. next post
Two days ago
Citrus, the Gentleman
Back on medication
I’ve been on SSRIs since my early 20’s. Now I’m 27. I’ve recently tried stopping my SSRI and felt good for a few months. Then, I started to get anxious again and it felt unbearable, so I went back on my medication. It’s been almost a month, and I’m feeling better, but I’m struggling to come to terms with the fact that I need medication.
I’ve been going to therapy for several years and while I find it to be helpful, I still struggle with social anxiety and claustrophobia.
Would love to hear how other people have managed medications with anxiety.
Finding a new Dr with new insurance
So I recently moved to a new state, with new insurance. I have not seen my old doctors since the pandemic. The reason I have not seen one is on top of my chronic pain, from fibromyalgia, sensory , migraines, seizures, ulnar neuropathy, ibs, gerd etc. I have claustrophobia when I put a mask on due to a near drowning accident when I was a kid. I cannot find a doctor that is willing to see me without a mask. My 3 month supply of my meds are running low. I'm at a loss this has increased my anxiety. Although I'm trusting in the Lord it isn't easy. I would like prayer. Thank you The Rambling Man