It was a stressful period of my life many years ago. I could call it a period of chaos and a big loss. I was carrying my “I don’t care” mask, stealthily trying to hide the suffer and sorrow, followed by the unchosen belief that nonhappy emotions make you weak and ugly. I still didn’t know that it could cause much more grief within me, and I didn’t know how serious it could get if a human keeps every emotion inside, and tries to numb it or ignore it.
It was early autumn back then, and school started but no fucks were given in that period. It’s no surprise because all of it inside me was numb. I went to bed, not thinking about anything significant in that moment, and I rested my head on the pillow. My left ear could hear the beat of my heart through the linen. I was already not a big fan of the sound of the heartbeat but it was nothing that could disturb me if I hear it. Well… till then.
I started losing my breath, and if I tried to fill my lungs, it was a feeling of barrier that didn’t let me. The oxygen was going in but I couldn’t feel it, and it lost its purpose. Then the cold sweat started passing through my pores, followed by the shiver of my body.
I jumped out from the bed and went to the balcony to catch some breath but it was no use. The whole feeling convinced me that I was dying, and my mind started flashing all the people I knew in my life, and a bunch of situations that I went through. Those were the moments of understanding and forgiveness or I just wanted to “clean my frustrated ass” before I leave this world. I lied down and started waiting for the “shut down” not knowing that I was not even close to death. All of it was the taste of panic attack.
People are getting more and more stressed, worried about their future, their existence and their jobs, and there is also the past from which we drag our burden. No wonder that panic attacks are getting more and more frequent. I wish I knew back then, in the period of chaos, what was happening to me. It would probably help me to deal with the attack, and I wouldn’t have the feeling of close death for the next couple of years. Because of that reason, I’m writing this post.
The biggest relief is the fact that people don’t die during the panic attacks.
The panic attack starts with the feeling that something very bad is going to happen, in a very short period of time, and the person will not be able to protect itself. Illnesses that resemble panic attacks are just the diseases that the person is hypochondriacal afraid of: infarction, choking or stroke.
Once a person goes through the panic attack, it is expecting it to happen again. Then avoiding hard physical work, exciting situations, places where it happened… becomes default behavior (I admit that I still don’t like to talk about breathing and listen to the heartbeat), but those are not solutions because panic attacks are so random, and they come out of nowhere. They appear suddenly, in seemingly peaceful situations, for example when reading a book or watching TV or, like in my situation, going to bed. They come without warning and there are no ways to stop them. The panic attack is not dangerous but can be scary because of all of those emotions and body reactions.
Physical symptoms of panic attacks may include:
· fast breathing
· a feeling of choking
· stiffness or tenderness
· feeling hot or cold
· chest pain
· accelerated heart rate
There is no point in fighting a panic attack, but accept it and let it pass. It is important that you are aware that nothing can happen to you. The worst thing is that irrational thoughts occur at the time of the attack – “I’ll go crazy,” “I’ll die,” “I can’t take this anymore.” They deepen the sense of fear and the tension increases. Because of it, it is helpful to talk to yourself or read positive affirmations where you’re convincing yourself that nothing bad is going to happen to you.
For example: “I know what’s going on, this is a panic attack. Nothing terrible can happen to me. I managed to beat this earlier so I’ll do it again. I’ve already gone through this. There will be nothing to me. I can’t get hurt…”
Also, focus on the things around you, talk to someone, take a walk… get yourself aware of the surroundings and the present.
There is always something required of us, and more and more people are doing more and more work. The emphasis is on external and material, and our inner being is oppressed. We need to find the ways how to be calmer, and find more time for the things we love.