Controlling Panic Attacks

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Post by Guest on Thu May 21, 2015 12:43 pm

Hit a new milestone today: had a panic attack for the first time in front of someone else.

I have always had enough time to be able to isolate myself in order to let a panic attack happen. This one was near instantaneous.

Friend of mine (geniune friend) had came over to help me edit a project I was working on (and let me tell you, I hate editing). It was getting increasingly difficult to concentrate and my friend was getting a little annoyed that I seemed increasingly unable to function.

And suddenly it hit me all at once and I ran for the bedroom as fast as I could so I could try to minimize things. I did not quite make it.

I was hyperventilating on the floor and yelling and holding myself and I couldn't stop it at all. I was holding my mouth and slapping myself trying to shut up.

Over all of this, my friend stares down at me with this absolutely disturbed look and then quietly leaves.

Now the plus side is that this friend is aware of the panic attacks, I've told her about them, she's just never seen them herself. She knows I'm depressed and that I want to die, all that jazz.

It's a new level of being unable to control myself. Man oh man, I always say to myself that things can't get any worse, but they always do. Once I think I've hit bottom, I keep going deeper and deeper and deeper. I'm drowning, and I've got barely a second of air left until I suffocate. I'm very close to the end now. I can actually smell it.


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Post by PintsizeBro on Thu May 21, 2015 12:58 pm

Panic attacks suck in the best case scenario (is there even such a thing?). It's all the worse when someone sees and so not only do you have to deal with the panic attack itself, you have to deal with being embarrassed about it too.

The good news here is that telling your friend "Yeah, it was one of those panic attacks I told you about, no I don't know why it happened in the moment" is really all you should have to say on the subject.

Your friend reacted the way she did because she had no idea what to do in that situation. It's easy to get annoyed with someone who's just not paying attention when you've come over to help them and it's not clear that there's something wrong. But once it becomes clear that something is seriously wrong... a lot of people don't know how to deal.

Maybe that's not helpful.

Have you talked to your doctor about medication for the panic attacks? I couldn't have gotten through all of the bureaucratic nonsense that happened to me as an undergrad without a Valium prescription.


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Post by Enail on Thu May 21, 2015 3:28 pm

That sounds like it must be very scary and out-of-control-feeling, panic attacks seem just horrible.

I second PintSizeBro that your friend probably didn't know how to react and figured she'd best just get out of the way - and I just want to point out that it's awesome that you've got a friend that you've been able to tell about all this stuff. You might find that things feel kind of awkward with her for a bit, because she may not know how to react or how to be helpful or if she should mention it or if you'd rather she not bring it up, so don't jump to assuming that she hates you now or anything if it is a little weird next time you talk to her. She'll probably take her cue from you, so PintSizeBro's suggestion sounds like a good way to help things get un-weird again.

I also second looking into medication for panic attacks (but with a caution to ask about addictive potential and do a little research of your own to make sure, because some medications for that are quite addictive so you'll want to know what the limits are for using them safely. Addiction is not fun).

A couple of other things that might be helpful:

-maybe see if you can learn to detect early warning signs so you can recognize when you're getting into the onset of a panic attack a little earlier in the process - do you always have increased trouble concentrating right before? If you can excuse yourself and get somewhere you feel more safe earlier, that might lessen the intensity of the attack than if you're also worried about other people seeing it or are in an environment that's stressful.

-an exercise people I know who get panic attacks say can help bring them out of it more easily: focus on your senses by listing 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell (not sure about taste, that seems a little tricky).

-it can also be helpful to keep something with you that stimulates one of your senses to help ground you - something you can hold or touch like a stone that feels good in your hand or a piece of fabric you like the texture of, a little bottle of an essential oil or other scent you find calming or even a few different scents that you can distract yourself with.

-the more you can reduce your stress generally, the better that will be for lessening panic attacks. You're under a lot of stress right now, you're going to be more prone to panic attacks than you normally would. As much as you can, invest in stress-relief and reduction.

I know it feels like this is part of an inevitable descent from which there's no return, but panic attacks really are something that can get worse for a period and then better. My wife went through a few years where she started having panic attacks, and it got so bad she could barely make plans or even leave the house at times, and they gradually got better so now she doesn't really have them at all anymore. They are a thing that's happening now for you and is worsening now, and that sucks, but it doesn't mean it will always continue in this vein.

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