There was a time when panic attacks were a daily thing for me. At first, I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew it wasn’t good. Because I didn’t know what it was, I didn’t know what to look out for and I had no idea how to stop them.
If you’ve ever experienced a full blown panic attack, then you know that shit is fucken scary – no joke. Everyone is different, but I think there are a bunch of symptoms that are common across the board, namely these:
For me, it often felt like someone – or something – was sitting on my chest. I couldn’t take in more than a few little gulps of air, which only increased the panic. My P.A.’s would last anywhere between 30 minutes and well over an hour, with the eye of the storm typically keeping me in its clutches for a good 10 minutes or so.
After figuring out what it was that was happening, I did some research and began to pay better attention to what was happening before the onset of the P.A. Sometimes there was an extended delay between what I think triggered the P.A. and when it happened, but that’s just how my body dealt with things at the time.
After a few weeks of making an effort to avoid these debilitating episodes, the frequency began to taper off, as did the length of the actual attack. I still have one, now and again, but I’m happy to say that they’re much fewer and farther between.
Here are some things that work for me:
It’s really super important that you have a list of things that will calm YOU down, because what works for me, may not be as calming for you, and that’s the goal: CALMING.
For this next one, you don’t have to do the naming what you see, feel, hear, etc., at first, so don’t stress about remembering that part. What I did at first was simply to start counting backwards, then forwards, then backwards, keeping my breathing as even as I could manage but focusing on the numbers – on counting.
I always have a little vial of lavendar and/or rose oil with me. I put a few drops on my hands, rub my hands together, and then hold my hands up to my face and just breathe in the smell. You can use whatever smell works for you.
It really helps me to go somewhere that I don’t feel like I’m being watched or gawked at. I’d typically just go to the bathroom and sit in the stall for a few minutes, when I was at work.
What’s most important during a panic attack is to calm yourself down, so you do whatever works for you.
They’re scary and they’re fucken irritating, for sure, but they don’t have to control your life. That’s your job and your right. Think of this like a fire escape plan. Do the prep and practice work and I promise it’ll make a difference.
Take care of yourselves!!