Today I want to talk about something personal. Something about you may heard already or happened to you or someone close to you. Panic attack.
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms:
- Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
- Feelings of choking
- Chest pain or discomfort
- Nausea or abdominal distress
- Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
- Chills or heat sensations
- Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
- Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
- Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
- Fear of dying
Some people experience what is referred to as limited-symptom panic attacks, which are similar to full-blown panic attacks but consist of fewer than four symptoms.
This text was copied from Anxiety and depression association of America
Something you have to know about me is that I am a positive person. Most of the time cheerful and happy. Always looking at the bright side of life. Hoping everything is going to be fine, refusing to believe that the world is bad and corrupt. I know some people who think it is, and it breaks my heart. To see our loved ones struggling like that in life, without happiness and hope it’s heart-crushing.
Everyone deserves happiness, but sadly not everyone sees it that way. I think we have to be there for them and bring even a little laugh and joy in their life. To show them not everything is black, and they deserve happiness.
My life was and it’s complicated with smaller and bigger problems, like most of us. Always trying to see, remember and appreciate the good thing and forget/solve the bad.
I know this is personal and many people don’t see it or acknowledge it or they afraid to say this is a problem, but it’s real, trust me. I didn’t believe it myself until one day it surprised me.
How did happen my first panic attack?
About a year ago my very close loved one got sick with an unknown medical problem. The doctors didn’t know what’s causing the pain and the problem. Every day was mixed with hope, fear, and tears. It was a very hard month. I was home alone, waking up every morning hoping that that day we will know what’s the problem and that it’s not fatal, how they told us in the beginning when they just guessing the disease.
After countless tests, guessings, sleepless nights and promises one day my brain decided it’s enough, obviously, and can’t handle an every day twenty-four-hour stress. So that day I was in the living room, watching the television without knowing what’s on the program because it didn’t matter at all. I just needed background noise. All I can think about is when will this torture end, and all of sudden my heart started to pound like crazy.
Well, I’m in my 30s, healthy and I don’t take any medicine except sometimes an over the counter pain killer. My first thought was, maybe my blood pressure went up. But soon my hands started to tingle and felt dizzy, and then I got really scared and panicked.
I was like, ok I’m having a heart attack. I’m home alone if I faint no one will know, and I will die alone. Maybe someone will find me, but it will be too late. It sounds horrible but that’s what’s got across my mind in that second, probably everyone would think something like that. And it’s not getting better, the tingle and the heart-pounding was still going. I sent a text message to my family member that maybe I am having a heart attack. I will unlock the door if I faint, that they can come and help me.
I got up, walked up to the door to unlock it. Got back, laid down and hoped for the best. After a few minutes, I noticed that the tingle was less bad and the heart-pounding slowed down. Maybe I’m not having a stroke? Or maybe now I will end up fainting and lose my consciousness?
Until my family member got there all the symptoms were gone and I was feeling ok, as much as I could in that mess.
At the time I didn’t know what was that still thought my blood pressure caused it. After a few days, nothing bad happened to me, and I was thinking that I’m alright. I didn’t go tho the doctor, maybe it’s irresponsible from my side, but I’m trying to avoid doctors and medicine as best as I can.
Fortunately, our agony ended after a month when the doctor’s found out what was the problem with my close loved one, and we where happy that in the end, everything is going to be fine.
I never looked back and didn’t even think that’s something wrong with me. Until one day when we were having a family lunch. Some kind of pressure, uncomfortable and indescribable feeling I never felt before, started to grow in me. I couldn’t sit one minute longer beside the table and I rushed out to the yard.
Wasn’t feeling any pain or that I was scared of dying, just that uncomfortable pressure that if I don’t walk on fresh air I’m going to go mad. It’s a very uncomfortable feeling, and you don’t know why are you feeling it, just that can’t stay in the current place anymore or you going to go crazy. It’s so strange, and I can’t explain better, if you didn’t feel it you will probably have no clue what I’m talking about.
So this happened a few times more, and I was starting to understand that I will not die from it, and probably having panic attacks.
How I cope with panic attacks?
After I knew for sure, that my life is not in danger somehow I started looking it in a different way on these panic attacks. Every time I felt that it’s coming, I said to my family that I think this is it, got up and started walking to get fresh air, playing with my dog, or someone in my family started to tell a joke or funny story. Anything to stop my brain in this panicking loop. And it worked! After a few minutes, it was always gone.
For me, at first, this was horrible to understand that I’m having a panic attack out of the blue. Even when everything is ok. It can happen at any time. I’m sitting in the kitchen, thinking about what I’m going to make for lunch, and bum, starting to shake, feel uncomfortable and dizzy, and have a strong urge just to go out, leave the current place immediately and feel some fresh air.
It’s very important if you feel these symptoms, and think you are having a heart attack to visit the doctor immediately and be sure it’s not.
I know I said I didn’t go tho doctor myself, but I find myself lucky to not have some major medical condition or a heart attack, just a panic attack. I’m saying just a panic attack because if you know that you are healthy and it’s just a panic attack, you can somehow tell yourself and your brain that it’s a panic attack and you are not dying. Every time it happens to me I say everything is ok, it will end soon.
I’m not speaking for the people who have some of the heavier symptoms. Because I think my panic attacks are not so severe, it’s pain in the ass, yes, but I think I can handle it. So I can’t say that for everyone who is having a panic attack, that it’s the same, and you will make it go away with these tricks. I just can give you advice on how I do it, and how you can try and win the battle.
Still today I have a panic attack here and there. Some uneasy feelings from time to time, but not so frequently like before.
Support from friends and family
In my theory, the most important thing is that you can talk to someone who you trust, and tell them what are you going through. Talk, talk, talk. Support of people you trust is the key. Don’t be afraid to tell them how are you feeling, and get support.
- Write a diary if you feel that you can’t talk to anybody.
- Get yourself a pet, they are our four-legged best friends, and they know how to listen to you 🙂
- Start doing yoga or working out.
- Find a hobby that you like or wanted always to try.
- Learn new things which interest you.
- Stay positive and surround yourself with positive people.
- Read, paint (even if you are not Picasso), sing, craft.
I was fortunate to get through without medications and complications. But if you feel that you need professional help, don’t be afraid to reach out.
So this is my story about how I started to have panic attacks. Are you or someone in your surroundings have similar symptoms? How do you coping with it?