Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
Hey friends, today I want to talk about panic attacks again. I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions about panic attacks and how they can come about. I had my first panic attacks after a breakup that deeply violated my trust. I was lied to for a year by then boyfriend and my trust was completely obliterated. I started to feel like I would have these attacks where I felt like I couldn’t breathe and like I was going to pass out. I started to have these attacks at the same time every single day in the same class. At first, I had no clue why I was having these attacks then. It made no sense to me and I was genuinely confused why it was happening at the same time everyday. I didn’t know what was triggering them and it was debilitating. It was literally awful. I would often want to skip the class and it even got so bad that I ended up getting a note from my counselor that I would be excused from the class and go to the nurse and lay down until the panic attack would pass. I ended up going there almost everyday and it was beyond embarrassing, to say the least. It was ruining my education and my life. I struggled to make it through work and school everyday and it was difficult. It took some soul searching to finally figure out what was triggering this panic attack. It turns out that during that period was when my Ex would wake up and text me. At that point in my life, he was my first “love” and I mentally didn’t think I could completely disconnect and have him vanish from my life immediately. I had no idea that I was being triggered because I knew that was when he would be messaging me. Once I made this realization, I really focused on the break up in therapy and asked him to no longer message me during the day so that I wouldn’t get triggered. It ended up helping as the panic attacks did start to slow down.
Another trigger for me is my health. Most of my anxiety is rooted in PTSD from trust issues and health issues. I have been through so much with my health that I get a lot of anxiety worrying about what will happen if I have a flare of some kind. So something that I tend to connect with that anxiety is the fear of being stuck. I am so scared that I am going to be stuck in a situation that I can’t get out of and have a flare that lands me in the hospital. I have had massive panic attacks on test days for school, airplanes, getting my hair or nails done, when I am in a car and not the one driving, large events, etc. There is something about feeling stuck and in pain that scares the shit out of me. It has also happened many times where I have had bad flares of my IBS or Asthma at the wrong time: parties, vacations, etc. That feeling of pure panic and fear of death is something I just don’t forget and thinking about it sometimes sends me into a panic attack. I am mostly able to cope to this day with these issues. However, sometimes it can get out of control and it takes me awhile to calm down.
Now one of the misconceptions about panic is that there has to be a trigger. In my own experience, as you probably just read, I definitely do get panic attacks with my triggers from time to time. However, I have also had panic attacks at the most random times with no triggers or reasons. Therefore, I then panic more thinking that I may have a panic attack. Otherwise known as a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what I really want to convey with this point is that sometimes you may not know why you’re having a panic attack. Many times I have had a panic attack at work, in the car, at the store, etc. and I genuinely don’t know or understand where it comes from. I did learn that you may not always have a huge trigger. You could just have anxiety building up and then at some random time your body catches up with your mind and it can send you into a panic attack. So it could sometimes be confusing if you don’t think you have anxiety that bad that a panic attack manifests.
Something that helps me with panic attacks is trying to actually use my adrenaline for something other than that panic. Sometimes taking a walk or dancing to kind of let go some of that adrenaline from the fight or flight response may help. It also helps to appeal to your senses. Putting an ice cube in your hand or chewing a super minty gum can distract your senses and in turn draw your attention away from your panicky feeling. I have a lot of content related to panic attacks so feel free to check those out and read my other blog posts!
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3
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The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.