Catching My Breath

I’m having a full out panic attack.  I’m just coming out the end of it, but I’m not 100%.  During these times, I normally pace, or do something to take my mind off it and to burn the energy.  Today, I can’t even stand I feel so weak.  Even though I’ve felt this way before, my mind automatically goes to the bad stuff.  I’m dying.  I can’t breath.  My heart is going to stop.  I’m going to faint and never wake up.  I have no one to help me and I’m in the house all alone.

I laid down as soon as I felt the overwhelming fear hit me.  And then I found an SOS guided meditation.  Didn’t help.  Tried to stand up and I can’t, the dizziness is too much.  My heart is palpitating and it feels like it’s skipping a hundred beats.  And I’m writing with the hope that it’s going to help guide me through this.

The panic has come back the last month or so.  It’s been sneaking up on me at times where I think I’m relaxed.  And therein lies the power of the mind.  I have things going on in my life that are stressful.  Yet when the attacks hit, I’m not thinking about them, I’m not in the middle of a stressful situation, I’m not feeling badly.  That is what scares me the most about this, I have absolutely no control and no idea when they are going to hit.

When I’m able to come down from the peak of the attack, I have the ability to think rationally again.  I stop the racing ‘what if’ thoughts and begin the positive affirmations – I’m safe, I’m grounded, I’m strong.  I’m here now, I’ve made it out of the worst of it and now I focus on recovering.  It usually takes a good 20 minutes or so to stop the trembling, sometimes stop the crying (which by the way can be a very good release during an attack).  The fight or flight has been disabled.

So why did this happen?  I can’t say for sure.  It’s Saturday morning, I had a great sleep and I’m in my robe having quality time with my dogs.  But I can speculate based on my life circumstances.

For the last couple of years I’ve been dealing with the separation of my marriage.  It has been an emotional rollercoaster.  So there’s stress factor number one.  Stress factor number two -for the last month I’ve been experiencing heart palpitations, much more than normal.  I’m not sure if it is related to stress and the anxiety disorder or the opposite, if the anxiety and panic has been heightened by the palpitations.  So I just finished some testing and will find out next week.  Stress factor number three – I am about to leave for a combination work/pleasure trip that will have me away from my house and my dogs for 13 days.  I have someone new looking after them.  Nuff said.  Stress factor number four – work.  Big conference coming up in a week, somewhat high stakes.  Stress factor number five – the weather.  Yes, as I’ve mentioned before the weather has a direct impact on my anxiety level.  I can hear a brisk wind blowing outside my window right now and it makes me tense.  And the last stress factor – I’ve been alone all week.  Working from home has its perks, but the big downside is not getting outside enough in the winter as well as not enough human interaction.  I’m social by nature, but over the last year I find myself alone for good stretches of time.  It’s not good for me.

In the 20 minutes or so that I’ve been writing this, my anxiety level has completely dropped.  I’m feeling like I can now move on with my day, and that is progress.  These things used to have so much control over me that when they hit, I couldn’t leave the house for days after for fear of it hitting me again in public.  So for that I am grateful.

Tip #5.  Redirecting your thoughts can be really helpful during times of distress.  Just the act of writing down your feelings can be so helpful in working through whatever you may be going through emotionally

3 thoughts on “Catching My Breath”

  1. Have you read walking the tiger? There’s a theory in ot that has a bit of traction now that the reason panic attacks hit when you’re relaxed is because your body senses you have the space to process the stress or trauma. Maybe it’s that. They say to just focus on what is happening and let it do its thing, which is what you did by writing through it, that’s a great tip!


      1. That’s cool. Yeah it seems like a weird idea but when you go into it it makes a lot of sense and it meshes with my experience as well.


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