“Don’t panic!” And…everyone panics…
Have you ever felt helpless? Have you ever felt fear? Sadness? Have you ever felt disappointed in yourself because you don’t know what to do when someone you care about has a panic attack?
I have suffered from panic attacks for years. It started in my early 20’s. I had an array of symptoms that mimic that of a heart attack. My thyroid was tested for irregularities. A full blood count was taken for tests. I even had my brain scanned. All these tests came back negative. It was so frustrating feeling like I was about to lose my life and being told by professionals in the medical world that nothing serious is wrong and they cannot find anything wrong with me. The only diagnosis I had was that my blood pressure was low.
I kept having these mysterious attacks until I was finally diagnosed with panic disorder, years later, and after many doctor visits and frustration.
This happened so frequently I became embarrassed about this situation. Everyone had to make a big fuss around me. Everyone got freaked out. Nobody knew what to do. I couldn’t tell them what to do. I didn’t know what to tell them what to do. This made my panic attacks even worse. Worrying what others will worry about. Eek!
This is a crippling medical condition. It happens in minutes, out of nowhere. It is frightening for the person experiencing the attack as well as the person/s witnessing it. It is best to inform those who know you that you suffer from this condition so they can help you and not get shocked out of their wits and start panicking themselves. There are ways to help those in need of calm, but, first, we have to look at what the signs are-
This is what I felt when I had an attack:
- Heart palpitations
- Sweaty hands and face
- Tingly sensations in hands, head, legs
- Heavy breathing
- Feeling dizzy
- Feeling delirious
- Shivery trembly body
- Tummy distress or nausea
- Environment seemed much brighter
- Heavy chest or choking feeling
This is what people noticed while I was having an attack:
- Pale face
- Sweaty beads on forehead
- Trouble breathing
- Seem confused
- Grabbing at my chest
- Trying to free my chest by tugging my clothing away from it.
- Pulse is slow
This is what I need
Give me space. Being crowded and feeling like I can’t breathe is not a great combination. If everyone had to walk away and not help me, is also not a great combination. This is what helped me –
1 person, preferably someone close, sits behind me and holds my hand. Sitting behind me allows me to feel assurance and keeps away from my heavy chest. I can also feel the rhythm of your heartbeat. OR,
If you are not someone I would likely be breathing partners with, option 1 can become a little uncomfortable and can create even more panic. YIKES! Option 2 would be a less invasive approach. Get the crowd to move away if there is one. Lay me flat on my back on the ground. Hold my hand. Speak softly and instruct me to breathe in and instruct me to breathe out. Do this until my breathing rhythm becomes acceptable.
Speak in a soft gentle voice. Remind me that I can breathe. Tell me to follow your breathes in and your breathes out. Breathe in and breathe out until you can hear that my breathing has an acceptable rhythm.
At this time all I wanted to do was lay down. I always had a pounding headache. I always needed to use the loo-loo (toilet) first. I always needed to know things will be ok. I always liked someone there who cared for me.
Prepare an iron-rich snack served with water in bed before sleep.
Having an overwhelming fear that escalates into a panic frenzy use up a lot of energy and does take a toll on the body. All the excitement of muscles constricting, the adrenalin rush brought on by the irrational fear of dying and the situation that set the attack in motion drains the body of nutrients.
These are my go-to snacks to keep my energy levels at a normal level:
- Coffee (I keep this for morning treat)
- Low GI bread (Honey and oats is the tastiest)
- Honey infused muesli mix
These foods I include in my weekly meals and I actually really enjoy:
It is, of course, best practice to see a doctor for further help if needed.
Prevention is always better than cure. Take time away from the hustle and bustle of life’s dramas. Take care of yourself. Take 30 minutes to focus on the good things in life.
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