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Archive for March, 2012

The smallest things can trigger them, insignificant words, images, thoughts or anything else that just happens at the time when I am vulnerable, tired or run down.

Panic attacks are like a rising tide, the start so slowly and suddenly I am in deep water being thrown this way and that – they start with a sense of unease and quickly develop into much more. I can’t breath deeply, I have pins and needles in my limbs, I feel nauseous, I’m frightened of losing control – what will I do, what am I capable of and finally am I going to make it through this.

Slowly, I breath a little easier, I negotiate some sort of peace with myself, I begin to find a more stable base but it takes time to truly ease, time to really feel “normal” again – until next time.

But as with everyone who has had panic attack I am sure, I am never really prepared for how terrifying it is, how sick it makes me feel and scared I am that I won’t make it through this time, that something will go wrong, that maybe this time I won’t be able to hang onto my sanity.

I am told that panic serves a purpose, that there is a trigger, I haven’t found mine or understood what my trigger is yet but hopefully it comes to me, hopefully I can find a way to stop these attacks but until then I simply hope I make it through each one safely.

Looking back the first panic attack I recall was when I was in junior high school, I was catching a bus home and had made it through the first bus trip but then found I couldn’t go any further. I was clammy, nauseous and my heart was racing – I thought I was ill, I thought I was dying. There were others after that, I went to hospital a few times thinking I was having a heart attack, feeling like I couldn’t breath, only to be sent home with the all clear.

One panic attack I had when I was working in a hotel, I lived in the hotel. One night I found myself terrified that I would simply walk out the window, I just simply didn’t think I could stop myself from doing it, like I had no control – I locked myself in the bathroom until it was all over. There was no logic but it worked.

Over time I have learnt little things to help me through a panic attack that work for me, like to sit on a cold surface, splash my face with cold water, put myself in a room with a closed door, I don’t like to be held when I have a panic attack but I have learnt that by telling my husband I am having one means someone else can take control if they need to and above all I have learnt to breath, breath and breath again.

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