Sunday, August 5, 2018

ONE-YEAR PANIC FREE

Hi everyone! 

Some of you may have seen posted on my Facebook that in February it had been one year since my last panic attack. Although it doesn’t sound like a ground-breaking accomplishment, to me, it is probably one of my greatest and proudest achievements to date! Here’s why. 

The definition of a panic attack is “the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms: palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling or shaking.” In other words, they are nasty, and I wouldn’t wish a panic attack on anyone! Listed above are all the physical symptoms but I would say that the mental side effects of a panic attack were worse for me.

During a panic attack, as well as feeling great discomfort and general exhaustion, my state of mind would begin to deteriorate. Accompanied with feeling confused, I would often find myself saying, “why am I like this” or “what’s wrong with me.” These feelings could last anywhere between 20 mins and several hours. After a panic attack, crying would be a great comfort. Talking to anyone else about it wasn’t an option, so I would attempt to console myself, but it wouldn’t make me feel any better.  

My panic attacks made me feel like a burden to everyone around me and this is partly the reason as to why I kept it to myself. It was hard, but I tried, where I could, to have panic attacks out of sight from anyone else. My bedroom or the toilet were the usual places. I do sometimes wish that I had not tried to hide them from everyone. Having a panic attack in front of people would have probably helped me and given me the push that I needed to talk about it with other people. 

This leads me on to the main point of this post – talking to people. My mental health has improved beyond recognition down to the simple fact that I started telling people about it. It feels like a weight has been taken off your shoulders once you start to share how you are feeling. Personally, I found comfort in telling all sorts of people; family, friends, my doctor – I found it especially helpful talking to people who I didn’t know. It was so refreshing hearing people’s opinions and suggestions with how to cope with it and has ultimately lead to me having more effective coping mechanisms. 

I haven’t had a panic attack in over a year, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have anxiety. By no stretch of the imagination has my anxiety gone – it has certainly subsided, but I have reached the point where I can no longer imagine myself not being a very anxious person! But that’s okay. What matters is that I have people to turn to should it get worse. I have a doting family, loving friends (and boyfriend!) and a whole health care system to support me.  

One last thanks to everyone who helped me get to one-year panic free. Let’s make it two! 

B x

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