Hey guys and welcome back to blog, apologies for me missing two weeks!
I feel that it’s time to be super raw and real with you guys, as I know with social media, you can portray your life as YOU want it to be seen. When the reality of it is, EVERYONE goes through hard times. And there isn’t anything wrong with that.
Before I continue to write this blog post, I’d like to let you know that this is quite a personal topic for me to write about, but I thought that it is time for me to share this with you, as I do get a lot of questions regarding this topic, and that if you’re reading/happen to stumble on this and you are an anxiety sufferer, I may be able to help you in some way. On the other hand, if you’re reading this and you have a friend or a loved one you know who suffers from anxiety/panic attacks, I hope this will help you get a better understanding and how to display ways in which you can support said person.
Anxiety is one of the ‘not so nice’ emotions to feel, a feeling that in some cases cannot be controlled and you are unaware of it slowly creeping up on you. There are various levels to anxiety that are in all of us all the time. From the typical ‘Oh gosh, I’ve got school/college tomorrow’ to something a bit more intense like a job interview or going to get an injection (eek I’m sure I’m not alone with that one). As I said, although anxiety lies in all of us, it affects people in different ways. When we’re stressed, our anxiety levels are much higher and some of us can become a lot more sensitive to it. To the peeps who are calm, collected and as cool as a cucumber , you will have a much lower anxiety threshold (go you!).
I’ve suffered with anxiety and panic attacks for 6 years now, and so I’m writing this for those of you who may feel alone, embarrassed, struggling to understand, need someone else to understand or need advice.
It’s understandable that not everyone ‘gets’ what a panic attack is. In my experience, I’ve met more people who don’t know what they are. Over the years I found that some of the closest to me, struggled to understand exactly how it affects me, or my day to day life. But it doesn’t mean over time they won’t begin to understand, through opening up and explaining, they will get it! (or reading this post)
A sudden overwhelming feeling of dread, the overbearing urge to push your way through to the nearest exit in your sights, everybody staring at you and smothering you. Your body then releases adrenaline; this adrenaline is released as your body is preparing for ‘flight or fight’. A programme our brains has when put in to a life threatening situation. In a fight, we use adrenaline in order to be strong, and you need adrenaline for flight, in order to run fast and get away. Our lovely ancestors would have used this to fight or run away from danger, but for us adrenaline may be released when in situations like, nearly falling over, being really excited, going on a roller-coaster ride or in an accident; adrenaline is released in to our bodies all the time.
Adrenaline is released, causing your heart to gradually start beating faster, and your muscles begin to tense up. We begin to breath in more oxygen, which our muscles use to turn sugar in to energy, blood is then diverted to the muscles, resulting in you becoming pale and light headed. This also causes you to shake. Our digestive system starts to shut down, making our throat dry and making you feel sick. Your senses are heightened, you become more aware of sounds and smells around you.
When adrenalin increases within your body, it can cause a various number of different emotional and physical effects during a panic attack, such as:
At times, panic attacks can come on very quickly, symptoms usually peaking within 10 minutes. Most panic attacks last between 5-20 minutes. However, there a more serious cases of panic attacks being reported of lasting up to an hour.
I honestly cannot remember how I triggered my anxiety. When I started college, at first I just thought it was the normal nerves you get just before you sit an exam. However it ended up in me being in hospital for a couple of days and the doctor diagnosing me. I was experiencing high levels of heart palpitations and not understanding why my body became suddenly weak and drained.
Being 18 and being told I had an illness, I was very confused as I didn’t really know what anxiety was and that there are various different types of it. I became very embarrassed and didn’t do anything about it, foolishly suffering in silence.
When I’m actually having a panic attack, I find the only thing that helps me is fresh air. Taking in slow deep breaths to calm me down, I also begin to pray. Praying for me ( as I am a Christian) helps me A LOT, sometimes I pray in my head as I just don’t have the energy to speak.
But remember, slow deep breathing…
In terms of long term treatment, stupidly, for 5 an half years, I put off going to a doctor as I thought I was able to control them myself. Eventually I went to my GP and explained everything I was battling with. Personally I’ve never read any books regarding this topic but I have read some really great ‘self help’ books. I don’t take any medication for my panic attacks (but there is nothing wrong if you do!!). I am currently having CBT, which stands for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, for me this has been very beneficial, I find a freedom in talking to someone who doesn’t know me (weird I know). If any of you have had any experiences you want to share, please do! Not for me to read but for others too.
Okay so this little section here is on ‘how to help’ someone who is having panic attacks. So these are a few suggestions that I found online that hit the nail on the head. You can then show this to your partners/friends/family and then they can feel a little more at ease about how to help you. Although it isn’t the most positive thing having a panic attack, I can’t imagine standing next to someone feeling helpless.
1. Remain calm. There is nothing worse than being with someone who is freaking out whilst they are, they will never calm down if you aren’t!!!!
“Relax. Calm down. Don’t be anxious. You can fight this. What should we do next? Don’t be ridiculous. You have to stay. Don’t be a coward. Pull yourself together, Stop being silly, what’s wrong with you”.
“You can do it no matter how you feel. I am proud of you. Tell me what you need now. Breathe slow and low. Stay in the present. It’s not the place that’s bothering you, it’s the thought. I know that what you are feeling is painful, but it’s not dangerous. You are courageous. Remember that panic attacks only last a maximum of 20 minutes”
You are not alone, panic attacks are VERY common in both men and women, and although terrifying, will not kill you. Don’t let your attacks ruin your confidence or dent your self esteem, you are an amazing person, and you CAN stop them, with the right treatment and techniques. Do not force yourself to go somewhere you don’t feel comfortable. If someone close to you fails to understand, it can leave you feeling terribly alone and insecure, FORCE them to read this blog post (nicely). Please do not suffer in silence as I did and get the help you deserve, why is it when we break a bone we are more than comfortable to go to the hospital for help, but when it’s a mental illness no one talks about it?
The world needs to be more educated and comfortable with talking about mental illnesses. You are all beautifully and wonderfully made! ♥