Flashing Vision

13 Sep
  • Diaphragmatic Breathing or Abdominal Breathing — Breathing slowly through the nose using the diaphragm and abdomen. Do not breathe through the mouth. Focus on exhaling very slowly. This will correct or prevent an imbalance of oxygen to carbon dioxide in the blood stream.
  • Taking anti-anxiety medication — to be used under the guidance and direction of a physician.
  • Staying in the Present — rather than having “what if” thoughts that are future oriented asking yourself, “what is happening now” and “how do I wish to respond to it”. (Carbonell 2004)
  • Acceptance and Acknowledgement– accepting and acknowledging the panic attack. (Carbonell 2004)
  • Floating with the symptoms — allowing time to pass and floating with the symptoms rather than trying to make them better or fighting them. (Carbonell 2004)
  • Coping Statements — repeated as part of an internal monologue
    • “No one has ever died from an anxiety attack.”
    • “I will let my body do its thing. This will pass.”
    • “I can be anxious and still deal with this situation.”
    • “This does not feel great, but I can deal with it”.
    • “I am frightened of being frightened, therefore if I stop worrying about being frightened, then I have nothing to be scared of.”
  • Talking with a supportive person — someone who has experienced true panic attacks personally; someone who is highly trained in treating panic attacks; loved ones who can offer support and comfort.
  • One particularly helpful and effective form of therapy is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is the most generally accepted method of treatment.

I’ve been having panic attacks up the ass lately, and you know what? I don’t like it. I morph from rationality to batshit crazy bitch, and feel like I’m standing on the sidelines, hyperventilating. I had one so bad at work yesterday I almost packed my shit up and left despite deadlines.

They scare me. The absolute overriding panic scares the shit out of me, and I don’t know if these are starting in earnest because I’m letting some things out in my head I never really have before or what. But the fear-the need to escape, the feeling cornered, the tightness in my chest and the fire that crawls up from my belly into my face…I’ve had anxiety before, but it’s been more social and situational-don’t go out in crowds-I’ll be fine. Now, it rears it’s head the minute I do anything, especially if thinking is involved. And out comes the Ativan.

I can feel one building as I sit here typing this, full of it’s wrong thoughts and fears, instead of the strength I know I have to weather anything life can throw at me. I know I’m strong as shit-why doesn’t my brain? The panic sits lightly on my diaphragm, waiting. Frankly it can wait all it wants since I’ll take a pill to head it off anyway…

Maybe this really has been my issue for a very long time, despite the lithium. Underlying anxiety and panic, all the things I just don’t talk about since I’ll look crazy or paranoid and mean. The little worries that pile up and pile up, the fears I shouldn’t worry about, since rationally, will the world end? Will I need to save someone trapped under a bus? Doubtful.

So I’ll take more pills, weather this storm till I see my pdoc again, and hope that maybe this time I’m on the right train.

In the meantime, if you hear of any brain transplants, do let me know. Mine seems to serve no one properly.

8 Responses to “Flashing Vision”

  1. cinnamon gurl September 13, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    I’ve had true panic attacks too. They SUCK! But you know what? Once I learned how to manage them (through the things you mention and by working with a counsellor for a brief time), they stopped coming. I had one recently, the first in years. I do still have anxiety (as demonstrated by the meds I took for the plane ride to NS and back) but it rarely goes to full-blown panic. I blogged a series about my experience with panic and anxiety, if you’re interested – it’s even got its own category at my space (anxiety) so you can check it out if you feel like it. The most difficult and most necessary thing I did to overcome panic was pull my brain away from the panic. It was SO hard to drag it away, but once I learned how, it got easier and more effective. Email me anytime…

  2. Cynthia Page September 13, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    I used to have full blown panic attacks too. Way back in 1998, one of the first terrorizing attacks took hold at work and my boss called an ambulance. I was mortified to return to work, which made all my anxiety issues that much worse.

    I used to feel like I was dying. To make matters worse, so many symptoms of panic attacks are also symptoms of stroke or heart attack, so there would be this nagging worry that I should be doing something. I finally printed off a complete list of symptoms of panic attack and would read it to reassure myself I wasn’t dying. It was occasionally helpful.

    I think there were two physical contributors. One was an infection with post nasal drip that exacerbated that choking sensation and laboured breathing. The other was that I did have a racing heart and palpitations in absence of hyperventilation. I would be calmly reading a book and thinking about nothing and suddenly I’d feel my heart racing and pounding erratically which would set the panic in motion. I’ve since learned that practically every woman in my family has mitral-valve prolapse which causes those symptoms but is totally benign.

    I went on stress-leave and rarely left my house. I would have them anywhere at anytime for no discernible reason. I’d have them while relaxing watching television, having a bath, lying in bed. Can’t breath, choking sensation, chest pain, numbness, blurred vision, racing heart…just pure terror. And then one day, they just stopped. I remember no chance in my circumstances, behavior or medication to account for that.

    As much as I bitch about being social anxiety, I would take it any day over panic attacks. I can’t even think of words that adequately describe how utterly horrifying they were. It was such a whole body experience for me – if felt as though my broken brain and my body were conspiring against me.

  3. thordora September 13, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    Cin-I forgot you had that experience-it’s likely I will email you.

    I’m finding that stuffing back the Ativan at the first itsy bitsy sign works-keeps the stupid thoughts at bay, makes it easier for me to put off the “what ifs” that plague me.

    Social anxiety is MUCH preferable to hanging on to my desk hyperventilating waiting for the sky to fall…

  4. Marcy September 14, 2008 at 8:31 am #

    You know it was panic attacks that sent me to the hospital after Amy was born.

    I am thankful that it’s been a while since I’ve had a doozy — really the last one was that night I went back on the drugs and set a therapy appointment.

    Your list of coping skills is good. So is all the work you’ve been doing on being mindful during emotions — letting them in and out, taking notice but not grabbing or pushing them.

    As I’ve mentioned either here or at my blog, two things that especially help me are facing my fear directly and realizing it won’t destroy me and that most of the time it’s not a real rational fear to begin with and therefore not worth taking seriously — and realizing how much fear of fear is worse for me than the fear itself.

  5. mercurial scribe September 15, 2008 at 12:49 am #

    Dang girlie, that sucks. I have panic disorder and I entirely understand what you’re going through. Considering my current situation, I’m fighting them too. You have an excellent list there – utilize it as much as possible.

    You have my empathy. I wish I could offer more.

  6. Krista September 16, 2008 at 12:01 am #

    Yep. Ativan is a good fiend to have. I still have some in the cabinet. I vividly remember the can’t breath, heart about to exit my chest, limbs start to go numb feelings. Oh wait I still do that, but now it is only for reviews/meetings with a boss. Lucky me my current one likes to meet 1x a month so you know where you stand and that there are no surprises at review time. So now insteat of 1 or 2 times a year. I get to freak out 1x a month…..12 times a year. I was willing to live w/ 1x a year. Guess I need to re-thing the “I’m managing this theroy”……….I’m with ya girl!

    By the way we surrivived Hurricane Ike and were w/o power less than 48 hours! They say only 30% have has their power restored…..one time I like being in the minority!

  7. Treating Panic Attacks December 21, 2008 at 7:52 pm #

    The hardest step is identifying when a panic attack is about to strike. The first thing to do is to not add negative thoughts into mind as well a depressive attitude because these usually heighten the level of panic in a victim.

  8. Keila Snellman February 18, 2010 at 3:02 am #

    There is actually a lot to read about the subject. I believe you hit remarkable good points

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