Let me tell you something about anxiety. There should never be a JUST in front of it. There is no such thing as JUST a panic attack. That’s like saying you JUST felt you heart jump out of your chest, you JUST felt you hands go numb to the point of not being able to pick up the phone to call for help. Or you JUST began to black out and imagined yourself literally dying right in front of your children.
This is what I experienced for the first time a few short days ago and I would not wish it on anyone! While I have experienced anxiety in the past, this attack sent my husband running though red lights to get me to the Emergency Room. When I stumbled in there, I was completely disoriented and could barely form a sentence. My hands turned to claws and I couldn’t even hold my Insurance card. I was hyperventilating and in complete panic!
The E.R. tech sat me down and helped me to calm down. I then had an EKG and a chest x-ray since I had been having chest pains for weeks. I was given a prescription and a referral. I could not help but think about what would have happened if I had been alone with my kids. Thankfully this was not the case, and thinking like that does nothing but cause more anxiety.
While my experience is very personal, I feel the need to share it to hopefully help others to stop feeling so alone. Anxiety is a REAL thing and more awareness has to be brought to this topic.
I am learning to cope with my anxiety in natural ways. I have had too much going on with in my life these days and I reached my breaking point. Now I am learning to slow down and BREATHE!
Here are a few strategies I have found to work when I feel panic coming on:
- DEEP BREATHING – This helps prevent hyperventilating, which brings other symptoms. Focus on taking deep breaths in and out through your mouth, feeling the air slowly fill your chest and belly and then slowly leave them again. Breathe in for a count of four, hold for a second, and then breathe out for a count of four.
- CLOSE YOUR EYES – This reduces the stimuli that may overwhelm you. It also allows me to focus on my breathing with fewer distractions.
- RECOGNIZE THAT IT IS A PANIC ATTACK – This is important to preventing my attack from getting worse. The moment I started to believe that I was going to die and my heart was giving out, that was the moment my arms went numb and I could no longer move my hands. I thought I was dying and my body reacted accordingly.
- FINDING A HAPPY PLACE – I think about my children laughing, or a recent tropical vacation. I take myself out of my current situation and think about something that brought me peace at one point.
- REPEATING OR COUNTING – Song lyrics or a mantra. “This too shall pass”, or an old nursery rhythm. Feeling my pulse and counting heartbeats. For some reason I find this therapeutic and calming. This may actually cause anxiety for some people but it works for me.
My family needs me and I need to take care of myself in order to be the best mom I can be. Taking on too much may seem like the only option at times, but it’s not. Learning to slow down and make time for yourself is the best thing you can do for your mental health.
Please comment with your own personal experiences with anxiety and/or your own suggestions for keeping it at bay. I am new to this and learning as I go.