Obviously I meant the beginning of that panic attack. Freaking out here.
I am in the middle of THE WORST panic attack I have ever had. I am positive that I am going to die tonight.
Recently I commented on a blog post written by Cindy Zelman over at The Early Draft about my panic with cars and Cindy had loads of questions for me. See, Cindy is challenged with panic attacks also and has learned how to manage them effectively in her life so she can be happy.
Here was my comment:
“I don’t even drive because of the panic attacks. So kudos to anyone who is able to drive!!! As a matter of fact just being a passenger is becoming a problem for me. It’s getting harder and harder to handle the fight or flight response in my body, it’s getting harder to just not jump out of the car…”
And now I’m answering all of her questions she had for me. Read on…
I’m not sure I have your first name so I’ll call you “Bats.”
Sounds like a plan. My online presence for the past (I think) 12 years, has been Bats so I prefer it that way. Thank you for being comfortable with that.
I was wondering if you could tell me more about yourself. Maybe your blog would address my questions, and I hope to look there at some point soon.
My blog is the best place to go to know all about me. Over the past 4 years I’ve placed what I’ve gone through with my mental illness and alcoholism on my blog with some gaps because occasionally I isolate and don’t have the energy to keep going for months at a time. But I do the best I can do and place it out there with cold, hard, honesty in hopes that just one person will not feel so alone in their day to day challenges or gets some kind of help from it.
I’m wondering how old you are,
I just turned 38 in January.
how long you’ve been suffering with panic attacks,
My first panic attack was when I was 17 years old. I didn’t have another one until I was 26, after I had my daughter.
what other ways you are debilitated by them aside from being in a car, and if you are getting any kind of treatment – counseling, prescription drugs, cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The car is the major one because I’m unable to drive or even to obtain a license at this point but lets see; grocery stores, doctors offices, elevators, malls, my kid’s soccer games; you name it, I feel immense anxiety over it at this point. It’s worst now then it has ever been in my life and gets worst by the day. It’s so bad now that I’ve actually started having panic attacks at the one place I thought I was safe from them, my home.
Unfortunately because I am uninsured and not able to afford counseling, CBT therapy or anything else out there that would help; it’s just not an option so I live with it the best I can. As far as prescription drugs go, no psychiatrist will ever prescribe them to me because of my addictive personality, I’m an alcoholic and believe me I’m very honest about it with doctors just so they don’t try to give them to me because I can guarantee you I would fall in love with drugs like that VERY easily.
Where you are with your panic is a place I’ve been, I think. Although I will always live with this illness (and it is an illness, a biological one), I have found ways to manage it so I can do most things now and enjoy them, where once I couldn’t do anything. I would like to hear your story.
Knowing that someone else has been through what I’m going through with it and survived, is a huge hope for me. I just want to not feel anxious all of the time. I just want to enjoy outside again. I’m sick of feeling sick and panicky just to go to my kid’s soccer practices and games, school functions, or just to take them to the playground. I want to be able to drive my daughter to everything she wants to do but can’t because Mom can’t get her there. I want to be a Mom to my kids other than around the house. I know this isn’t a normal life, it’s not what I want for my kids or for myself.
Thanks Cindy (and everyone else reading) for caring enough to ask, read, and not judge.
Mood: Anxious. Okay almost into down right panic.
See I have to go get my medications today, which by the way I have no clue how I was able to talk the Psychiatrist I was seeing at the hospital I just got out of into refilling them but hey whatever works in life at this point in time. He probably refilled them because I can’t just stop taking the damn things now that I’ve been on them for this long and doesn’t want a medical law suit, like I could afford a lawyer at this time in life. Anyway, back to going to get my medications. That means I have to get a ride and travel 45 minutes one way in a car and then back. I have panic attacks in cars, every single time. It sucks bat brains. I’ve been anxious all morning and have pretty much worked myself into a frenzy about having to go do this. Sigh. I’m sick of worrying. I’m sick of anxiety. I’m sick of disorders to which there are no cures. I’m sick of being sick. I’m sick of having something wrong with me and I just know so is everyone else around me. Most likely they’re not but that’s the irrational thought process of my anxiety disorder.
It’s stupid and tiring.
I started having panic attacks in my twenties. I don’t know if it was a result of all the alcohol in my system, bipolar disorder, life, or a combination of all three. I’m leaning towards that last one. They can seem life threatening and certainly can be devastating. The first one I had I was in a grocery store standing in line and I literally thought I was going to die. How did I deal with them back then? I drank. How do I deal with them now? Many ways. One important aspect to realize as you read these steps (and these are just a few that help) is control. Remember you have control not the panic.
1. Take deep breaths. You’re in complete control of your breaths not the panic. It’s your lungs, you are the one breathing.
2. Rub your temples in a circular motion. Again just this simple act can make your mind realize you are in control of your body, not the feeling of panic.
3. Drinking a glass of chilled water can actually help you feel better get your nerves in order. I don’t have a PhD and I have no clue why but I know it works.
4. Force yourself to get your mind involved in something; watching TV, reading a book, writing. It’ll take a little while to force your mind onto something else but with practice you’ll be able to get there and hey you might (I can’t promise this) accomplish something meaningful in the process.
5. If you can’t sit for obvious reasons stand up and pace around (I’m surprised I haven’t paced through my kitchen floor yet) or walk or jog in place until your mind eases. Jumping jacks also can help. Don’t forget to breath as you are doing this!
6. Rational thinking – All kinds of negative thoughts pass through your head when you experience a panic attack. These thoughts are unfounded. It can help to shout STOP!!! inside your head to stop your negative thoughts in their tracks. Or hey shout it out loud, it’s sure to stop something or well someone. It’s also a great way to remind your thoughts that you are the one in control not the feeling of panic.
7. Breathe into a paper bag. This trick really does work, I’ve done this one more than one occasion. Of course doing it in the check out line at the grocery store gets you a few looks but it can also get you ahead in line.
8. I suck at math, it’s not my cup of tea unless I have a calculator handy however simple math can pull you out of your panic filled thoughts, again it reminds you of the fact that you do have control over your body. If you don’t want to do multiplication or division just do the simple act of counting from 1 to 100 or 100 to 1.
And lastly there are many medications out on the market that can help you with a panic disorder, if you can afford them why not seek that help out? I would if I could.
If you have ever had to deal with a panic attack, what helped you?