P is for Panic

[dropcap]P[/dropcap]anic attacks. First the nausea sets in, followed shortly by my heart beat racing. My limbs feel like jelly as the adrenaline starts to kick in and the nausea deepens. A prickly heat creeps up my body and I feel both hot and cold at the same time. I clutch at my chest, because I’m convinced I can’t slow my heart rate down. That sets in even more panic. That strange dreamlike feeling of impending doom creeps in and at its worst, I cry and I don’t know why. That fight or flight mode is kicking in and kicking my ass. My mind thinks I’m danger, but I also know that I’m not. There’s nothing I can do except force myself to take deep breaths, find somewhere quiet, somewhere I feel safe. When the episode is over, I am exhausted. I want nothing more than to crawl into bed to sleep it off. [vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”P IS FOR PANIC” color=”custom” border_width=”2″ accent_color=”#ff8d6b”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I like to keep things easy breezy on this blog. Like Kristen Wiig drunk on an aeroplane or Anna Faris’s rubbery face, you know? But life is not always good, good, good. To appreciate the good, there has to be the bad.

An old friend emailed me earlier this week, feeling low over what they perceived to be the success of former friends- me included. I was like, hang on, NO. Whilst I don’t want this blog to be a negative nancy, I can’t pretend that its a constant stream of sunshine and rainbows. Life can’t be about sunshine and rainbows all the time, that’s just not how it works.

So here’s the thing- I go to therapy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”THERAPY” color=”custom” border_width=”2″ accent_color=”#ff8d6b”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I’ve been open about having a panic attack right before my honeymoon last year. I thought I could manage it, except here’s the thing- I wasn’t.

My ‘wobblies’ as I called them were becoming more frequent and out of the blue. I knew it was time to do something about it when I went to see the Harry Potter play a few weeks back. I couldn’t tell you what happened for the first part of the second act because my eyes were tightly shut as I fought off the panic and doom that had set in. That was when I knew I needed help.

Within days, I had found a therapist and had a session booked.

New situations can make me more susceptible to having a wobbly; so the run up to my first therapy session was…interesting.

I was nervous. Because, hello, stranger, please listen to me pour my heart out and tell me how to fix me. That just isn’t me at all. There can be chaos all around me, and I will still say “I’m fine”

So, typically, what happened within the first 15 minutes of my session?

I bawl my bloody eyes out.

Like Chunk in The Goonies when the bad guys are threatening him, I just blubbed away over things I didn’t even realise I was bothered about.

Therapy man. It kicks you in the nuts.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”AM I ‘CURED’?” color=”custom” border_width=”2″ accent_color=”#ff8d6b”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Do I consider myself ‘cured’?

No. That’s now how it works. Going to therapy is helping me piece together parts of the jigsaw puzzle that is life, not necessarily giving me answers but giving impartial nuggets of wisdom that I hadn’t thought about before.

Have I had any more wobblies since it started?

Sure. A couple. But they fade away quicker, and I am starting to understand the why’s and how come’s of it all.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”WHAT NOW?” color=”custom” border_width=”2″ accent_color=”#ff8d6b”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]I don’t know.

I’m pretty certain I won’t need therapy for much longer, that I won’t feel magically better overnight, but after every session, I feel like I am carrying less of a burden, less of a weight on myself.

So, there we go. Life is good. But it is also crappy. That’s just how it is sometimes. A blog (or any social media presence) is a beautifully curated thing and it is easy to fall into the trap that someone has their shit together. No one has their shit together. We just deal with it in different ways.

If you want any other ‘tips’ or ‘advice’ or my Top Ten Ways to Beat Panic Attacks (sorry, sorry) email me. Okay, but in all seriousness, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have in private.

As every therapy session of mine ends – ‘Go Well!'[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Author: Angela Shek

just a clueless mama in East London

6 thoughts on “P is for Panic”

  1. Hi Angela, thank you so much for opening up about what must be a very difficult subject to talk about. I’m so sorry you’ve been struggling with something that I think a lot of people don’t fully understand or appreciate, but I must say I commend you for being able to work on the fight part of it rather than the flight, however painful that may be for you. My very best friend suffers from this and I want to say a deep thank you because this post helps me understand just that little bit more about what goes through her mind and how I can help her when she has a panic attack. If you were to write more on the subject, I’d love to know the ways people around you help and support you when you have an attack so that instead of shying away from topics like these, we discuss them openly and as a whole, have a better understanding of how to support people when they struggle with something like this.

    http://victoriaspongepeasepudding.com/

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  2. Hi Victoria,

    I’m so glad you found this to be of some help! I’m so sorry your best friend goes through this too, because its so frightening to experience. For me, usually when I’m having an episode, I just want to be somewhere quiet because my first instinct is to be in a safe place. When I was in the theatre during my last ‘big’ attack, just having my friend put his arm around me and knowing he was there to help me feel safe was the best comfort.

    I don’t always want to talk when it happens, because I am focusing on taking in those deep steady breaths to calm my heart rate down. Just being there is a help- to not feel hurried, or judged. When I feel one coming on at work, my colleagues are very understanding and I’m able to steal away some time in a quiet room until it passes. If I’m alone and it happens, a quick text to my best friends helps too, because their replies help give me something to focus on until it passes. In fact, that’s one of the best coping mechanisms of mine- a distraction. I use a Colouring Book app if I have a small attack (say on the tube to work for example) But those are just for the smaller attacks. When it’s a full blow one, just being a comforting presence makes a difference.

    I feel that it shouldn’t be taboo to talk about your mental health. Just like your physical health, your mind needs looking after too and I hope that helps people to click that its okay to talk about.

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  3. This was great to read– while I don’t have major panic attacks, I do struggle with anxiety, and started seeing a therapist last November. It was about 15 years overdue! Many issues like anxiety and panic can’t be explained, like we don’t even know why we are experiencing it, but finding ways to cope from a professional is so helpful. And knowing that a therapist can’t magically heal you and it takes time to do the work on yourself is hard, but worth it. Keep your head up, and know you’re not alone! 🙂 – Sarah

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  4. Thanks Sarah! I’m so glad I decided to share this after all, because it has made me feel that I’m not alone after all! I feel like I learn something new every session- it’s quite nice and gives me a lot of things to mull over until the next session. I think it’s great so far.

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  5. Oh dude I’m so sorry you’re having such a poo time with the attacks at the moment 😦 ❤ It's so so hard to talk about these things online but I've been making myself be brave and open up about it more, and I've found it really is helping. Talking about it makes it seem less of a Thing.

    Well done you for looking for help when you needed it! xxx

    Little Miss Katy

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  6. It is such a relief to know that I’m not alone in the whole ‘life is fine but I’m going to freak out anyway’ party. I’m pleased you’re feeling better and I hope things only continue to improve for you as you totally deserve it.
    Cx
    Charlie, Distracted

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