Anxiety and panic attacks can hit me out of nowhere. But I am winning the war and I’m going to explain how I do it!
Just recently, I joined several facebook groups for middle age women. I wanted to see if my perimenopause symptoms were the same as other women; or to just prepare myself for what is to come. You see, I’m a prepare the battle field type of girl to a fault. I quickly noticed that anxiety and panic attack cries for help were posted over and over again. The first night of reading these for hours. I went to bed drained. I know anxiety and panic disorder very, very well and my heart ached for these Ladies. I knew I had to help somehow and I truly hope this post helps whomever needs it.
My Out of Control Anxiety
My anxiety started in my teens. I wasn’t diagnosed however until my early twenties. I believe that my anxiety comes more from genetics as it seems to show itself in other family members. I tend to have a very generalized, butterfly feeling at all times. Like a nervousness even when I can’t pinpoint what I am nervous about. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. I also want you to know that I have been through some very scary panic attacks. I have hyperventilated and fainted on the street, while happily walking home from the grocery store. I have had many ambulance rides and even trips to the emergency ward to make sure I was not dying. Because, I truly thought I might be. All this, while taking medication to calm my anxiety. Something had to give. I became exhausted from constantly trying to either hide my anxiety or explain it to others. Yes medication helped but it did not stop it completely. It could happen to me at any time, no matter what mood I was in. I literally started living in fear of my next panic episode.
The Physical Aspect of Anxiety and Panic
First if you are like me and a “need to know” type of person. It might help to read what physically happens during a panic attack. This article, The Chemistry of Anxiety, explains what is physically happening in your body. It’s sometimes good to break it down scientifically. However, even knowing this was not enough to completely help me. It was many more years before I met someone that told me something that changed everything for me.
The Lesson That Helped Me Take Back My Control
A couple of years ago I suffered a concussion at my job. I sustained very serious brain trauma and was diagnosed shortly after with post concussive syndrome. The injury was a nightmare and kept me in bed for almost 5 months. And I stayed at home for almost a year and a half. There are a lot of horrible things that I suffered through with my injury. But what concerned me the most started to happen as my brain was really healing. My panic attacks came back with a vengeance. My Specialist assured me this was a normal part of brain healing. But wanted me to see a Therapist. I rolled my eyes. I have spoken to many Therapists over the years. I have done the slow breathing and none of it cured me. I did NOT want to go but I had been this far, so I did. Thank the Gods I did!
As soon as I went in the office to meet Dr. Mark I liked him. Sometimes you just get that vibe with another human. I sat down and we introduced ourselves and he asked me how I was feeling. I said that, I hoped this would be quick because my brain only had so much thinking time before it fizzled. He laughed and said ok he would get to the point. The next things he said changed my life.
He told me that he also suffered from panic disorder most of his life. He said that there are several things to know that helped him and that he hoped it would help me.
- He believes that anxiety happens to certain people because we tense up our muscles during stress. Remember, stress can also come from happiness. There are many emotions that can cause muscle tensing. And we also can build it up from pushing worry aside or not getting enough sleep.
- Once our muscles tense up we get tight. Not good for our lungs expanding so we start to take more shallow breaths. Shallow breaths means we start starving our muscles of oxygen. This starts our heart working harder to get air. And all the other symptoms ie. tingling, lump in throat and more, quickly fall in line.
- Dr. Mark told me that when this happens to sit and relax. Put my hand on my lower stomach as a guide for filling my lungs and slowly take 3 deep breaths. This helps to oxygenate our blood, sending air to all those starving muscles and thus settling the symptoms of anxiety. —I told him that this all sounded very good but how do I stop them from happening so much or even at all?
- He said that he likes to take at least 3 moments in his day to make sure he is oxygenating his blood. Even at work, he takes time to do his breathing exercise.
Now I have to say that just the explanation alone made me feel better. To me it made total sense that I was tense at times and need to make sure I was taking in the right amount of air. I now use his technique not only to fight anxiety and a panic attack but also to help keep them away. But there is something else that I find very important about anxiety.
Why You Must Learn to Never Give In
You have TO FIGHT IT! I don’t want you to always think about it but try and be aware when you might feel stressed. Take time to do things, everyday, that calm you and give your brain a break. Could be something as simple as a bath. But you must not allow anxiety to rule you. When you are having an attack of panic, that anxiety side of your brain will try to keep it going and assure you something bad is going to happen. It’s like a war between reason and madness. So grab your sword Girl. This is where you use that wisdom filled, mature, rational brain of yours and tell the anxiety to GET LOST! I will even swear at mine if I have to but I don’t give in. It will tell me that I am going to die and I counter with – No I am not! If breathing doesn’t work I will do a few jumping jacks to disrupt the energy building or anything other than sitting in the anxiety. Anxiety is smart. If you do not try and fight it – it will get even more clever and almost hold you hostage. I do not want to see that happen to you. You can do this!
I also want to make sure you go get a physical so it’s clear you are healthy. If you are not on medication please talk to your Doctor. There is no shame in taking something that will help you through this time. Also try other techniques that might help you. Click the tags to the left regarding mood or mental health or humor, for some ideas. What works for me might not work for you but keep trying. Do not let anxiety win. From everything I have told you I can say that although my anxiety still is there. It does not rule me. For example, I was sitting happily watching a movie with my Parents and I got the numbness in my arm and the racing heart. I thought here it comes for no good reason BUT then I used my rational brain to tell it to get lost! I got up to go get a drink of water and by the time I was back to the couch I felt better. And I didn’t have to worry my parents even. No I am not cured but I for sure have a handle on it and you can too.
Here is another technique that I am hearing a lot of good things about. It’s called EFT or Emotional Freedom Technique. It’s even being used in schools to help children relax. Let me know what you think. Maybe you can tap your way to being more calm.
Whatever it takes. Do not give up. Try everything and let us know in the comment section below, what works for you. We can help each other. And remember, never think you are alone.
Take care Sister,