Fear is the highest fence. ~Dudley Nichols
Those of you who have been visiting The Warm Milk Journal may be aware that I have been challenged with anxiety most of my life. Part of this experience has been dealing with panic attacks.
Over the years my panic attacks have varied in intensity or have been triggered by different things, but they do have some common symptoms…
Symptoms of panic attacks:
1. heart racing
2. sense of dread
3. rapid shallow breathing
4. feeling clammy
6. feeling of being out of control
7. feeling of hopelessness
8. “black and white” or “all or nothing” way of thinking
9. feeling trapped or boxed in
10. afraid, feeling danger approaching
In other words, it really is a panicky situation. Or, it is perceived to be anyway. I am sure that people who have panic attacks have different triggers that initiate them.
Some of my panic attack triggers have been:
1. I had an expectation about something and it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to
2. Anticipating having to attend a social event
3. Worry about my health and mortality
4. Worry about finances
5. Feeling unloved and lonely
6. Being stuck in traffic while it is raining (happened frequently when I was a young mom in Seattle)
7. Crowded stores and shopping malls
8. Having to wait in a long line or doctor’s office
9. A sudden change in plans
I am not a doctor or nurse and I encourage you to seek medical help if you need it. At the end of this post I will share some links to learn more about panic disorder.
For now, I would like to share a few things with you that have helped me deal with my panic attacks…
1. If hyperventillating, slowing my breathing way down. Long, slow, deep breaths… doing this in a small paper bag can help.
2. Taking a walk
3. Getting active
4. Getting outdoors
5. Talking it out loud with someone you feel safe with (describing your sensations, what you are afraid of, etc.)
6. Getting busy! Doing anything that will get my mind onto something else
7. The realization that this is just anxiety; I am not really in any real danger
8. Getting perspective on some of my triggers. Talking to someone really helps with this (whether is is a caring spouse or medical counselor).
There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them. ~Andre Gide
Some resources about panic disorder:
Before we part company I would like you to remember a few things.
If you do experience panic attacks, please remember:
1. You are not alone. Many people have these.
2. You are not crazy.
3. You are not dying.
4. You are safe.
5. You are loved.
6. BREATHE slowly…deeply…BREATHE
(this is me on my wedding day. No worries here!)