The last few days I have felt myself backsliding mentally what with quitting my job and a mixture of other less than delightful happenings. But today it happened. For the first time in about 3 or so years I had..am having?… a panic attack. The manic pixie girls of the world have romanticized this episodic, and lets be honest, crippling emotional occurrence. But honestly fuck them because this isn’t some “Lana del Ray and cheap wine cries” type shit.
I don’t know about you or how you process or feel panic. I’m not going to assume that you have ever had a panic attack because I don’t want that for you, ever. But I’m going to do my best to describe what happens and offer some help just in case you ever need it. Before I begin I need to say that my panic attacks usually start in my sleep and yes that is a fresh level of weird hell and that yours may start or be triggered by a number of things or even nothing. It isn’t your fault, please remember that. Being overly stimulated to the point of panic happens far more often than anyone wants to admit because no one wants be seen as weak. You aren’t broken. Think of it as a physical manifestation of “the straw that broke the camels back” (that poor camel).
Symptoms (this will vary but below are common ones) :
Quick shallow breaths
Hyper fixation on an item, movement, or point in space
Sensitivity to light and/or sound
Conflicting need to be with someone but to be in abject solitude
Inability to will yourself into motion or action or inability to stop moving
It sucks as much as it sounds and the above is in no way an exhaustive list. It is difficult to explain to those on the outside looking in how it feels for your headquarters to suddenly shut down and your brain and body going into a silent revolt about different things. Because all of a sudden now you’re hungry, extremely thirsty, anxious, have to use the bathroom, everything hurts but you can’t really feel anything. Panic attacks are your entire existence up on it’s end for a brief period of time. Although the brevity is a joke when you’re in the midst of one.
The one I experienced this morning was more intense than I have had before and took quite a bit to quell. Sometimes I can sleep through it but today was not going to be that easy. But the steps I have used, some of which I employed today, are below and can be used together or apart to help calm you:
Identify what is wrong- please do not skip this one even if it isn’t a detailed analysis give yourself something to grasp
Lower the temperature in your room or lie on a cool floor
Recite something basic like a poem or your address to ground your mind
draw your blinds/window treatments for a little while
have something to drink preferably flavored to have something to at least subconsciously consider
Turn on a fan or white noise machine
If it works for you pick an ASMR video that is sound only. I’d recommend this one by WhispersRed ASMR
Lay under heavy blankets or weighted if you have one- this can give the feeling of security
DO NOT FORCE YOURSELF TO DO ANYTHING YOU DON’T FEEL UP TO
This isn’t a race. Recovering from a panic attack can take time and practice to find out what really works to help you navigate to calmer waters. Be easy on yourself and do what you can until you feel better.