Panic attacks can consist of mental and/or physical symptoms, often hitting at the most inconvenient moments. I’ve realised now that mine came in situations where I wasn’t in total control and I need to have a certain level of control in my life to function well.
PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS OF PANIC ATTACKS
My physical panic attacks would come most often when I was sitting in a traffic jam in my car or queuing in the supermarket, somewhere I couldn’t easily escape from. I would feel that I needed to get out from that confinement.
They would also come totally out of the blue when I was at home, in a space that I was comfortable.
Shaky hands, wobbly legs, feeling sweaty or clammy, heart pounding so hard that you think you’re having a heart attack, feeling like you’re about to be sick, thinking you will collapse. A panic attack can be any of these things. A panic attack can be all of these things at once!
Even so, as horrible as they were, I taught myself not to be scared of panic attacks. It’s a bit like fighting back with a bully – take away the fear and they don’t bother you so much.
Once I came to terms with the physical symptoms of panic attacks and learnt some distraction techniques, I was able to get through them by telling myself that no-one ever died from a panic attack. I had never collapsed before, I had never been sick and I had never had a heart attack!
Here are some distraction techniques to try when you get a panic attack:
* Give a sugar hit – Lucozade, a chocolate bar, a glucose tablet
* Sip slowly from a bottle of water imagining the water slipping down
* Slowly eat a chewy sweet or gum focusing on the chewing
* Sit or stand and practice some slow deep breathing
* Think of 5 things beginning with A, then 5 things beginning with B and so on
(this could be animals, plants, foods, etc)
* If you can, practice some Qi Gong or Guided Meditation
* Repeat a Mantra in your head such as the words calm, peace or safe
* Try a couple of drops of Bachs Rescue Remedy
MENTAL PANIC ATTACKS/ANXIETY
Mental panic attacks or anxiety (which would usually be accompanied by all those horrible physical symptoms too) were a whole other ball game for me. These did scare me.
Sometimes I fought the fears, other times I just had to give in.
These manifested themselves in an overbearing fear and dread – of nothing whatsoever, just a feeling that I could not do or continue with whatever I was doing. I just couldn’t!
Sometimes mine would come before I went to work, or before going out, but often when we went out in the car.
I would fight so hard to get out the house thinking I could do it, only to find 15 minutes into a 30 minute journey to visit my inlaws that I couldn’t manage after all. My husband would have to turn around and take us back home.
One Christmas Day, I managed the journey, managed the niceties with the family but once we sat down at the dinner table it became unbearable and I had to get away. I just couldn’t cope with being in a confined space.
In the end, I sat on the sofa with my dinner on a tray whilst everyone else sat at the table, and then I was fine. Everybody accepted it. We conversed as normal, I was just a few feet away from everyone. I felt totally drained, but at least I was able to participate in Christmas Day, albeit slightly removed from the norm.
You can try all the distraction techniques from the physical section but I found I just had to ride through these ones, and then rest up quietly afterwards. They used up huge amounts of my energy.
They went of their own accord in the end, but they were so controlling at the time.
Do you suffer with panic attacks?
Do you suffer physical symptoms or mental anxiety? Or both?
How do you all cope with panic attacks?
Please leave any tips or suggestions in the comments below.
SELF HELP FOR MENTAL HEALTH TIPS
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