My Experience with Panic Attacks

All of a sudden a heat rises up in me.

My palms are sweaty and my skin prickles,

The little hairs on the back of my neck stick up.

My face flushes red hot,

My throat feels like it’s closing up,

I can’t breathe..

I can’t even swallow..

What’s happening to me?

Am I dying?

My heart pounds in my chest,

My head throbs,

My pulse is racing.

I feel like I’m going to be sick..

My knees get weak,

I can’t catch a breath.

Lights dance before my eyes,

Everything is black..

Have you ever had a panic attack? They can come out of nowhere and hit you like a tonne of bricks.

Anxiety and stress greatly increase your chances of having a panic attack. They are terrifying, you feel like you are dying.

When I first started having panic attacks I had no idea what was going on, each time I would collapse and blackout. I have woken up in an ambulance and on one particular occasion where I collapsed waiting for a bus I came to in a puddle on the side of the road. A taxi man very kindly pulled up beside me, rang an ambulance and sat me up in his car.

I started having them while I was in school, at the time I had also been very sick and had my appendix removed. After a while the attacks seemed to ease off but I was still none the wiser as to what was wrong with me. They increased again during my first pregnancy and after numerous tests and a lot of time spent in the hospital I was eventually diagnosed with a Panic Disorder with associated drop attacks. With help I was able to recognise when an attack was starting and how to defer it so here are some helpful tips if you feel a panic attack coming on :

  • If you can, put your back to a wall and slowly sink down to your knees, this will help stop you from collapsing.
  • Don’t think about not breathing focus on slowing your breathing because more than likely you will be hyperventilating which is why you aren’t getting enough air, take deep breaths slowly in and out again.
  • Don’t worry about what’s going on around you, never be embarrassed.
  • If you are inside, once your breathing has eased a bit and you feel steady on your feet go out and get some air, it will cool you down too. Bring someone with you.
  • If you are feeling stressed, anxious, aren’t sleeping or eating well, go talk to your Doctor. There is probably an underlying issue that needs to be addressed and it really helps to talk (easier said than done I know).
  • Don’t bottle up your worries, write it all down, talk to friends and family if you can, let them know how you feel. Talk to friends online, call a helpline.

If you are with someone who is experiencing a panic attack GIVE THEM SPACE, don’t crowd the person and KEEP YOURSELF CALM, get them into a safe position back against a wall and allow them to focus on their breathing, don’t keep asking them what’s wrong because chances are in that moment they don’t know themselves. Talking can and should come later but not right at that moment. If they black out get them onto their side in the recovery position, make sure they’re breathing and call for help.

I was diagnosed with my Panic Disorder 10 years ago, I got the collapsing under control with professional help, I haven’t experienced a severe attack in a number of years. I deal with my anxiety everyday, it hasn’t gone away I have just learned how to manage it and prevent myself from it taking over. Everybody deals with stress and anxiety at some point in their life for some of us it’s a constant but I hope these tips can be helpful for all. I just want to clarify that I am not a doctor of any kind and I am just speaking from my own personal experiences.

I first shared this post to my old blog a few years ago, I’ve added a bit more to it today.

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