PANIC: HOW TO COPE

I’m going to go in a different direction with this post and talk about something that has been plaguing me for eight long years. Anxiety. I am currently in the throws of one of the more intense waves I have had in a while and it occurred to me that I am probably not the only one suffering from it. My anxiety started one day when I was sitting on the steps outside of a house I lived in during college. I had just taken a Benadryl for my allergies and, like flipping a switch, my brain rerouted the drug’s side-effects into pure, inescapable panic. The best way I can describe it was a sudden surge of intense fear. It felt as though the world was pulling the plug on my life and I was plummeting, head first, into a black hole of solitary darkness. Looking back, I am sure this darkness was actually my untimely death. Never having had a panic attack before I, somehow, managed to drive myself to my school’s health center. I reached the office and tried to fill out the check-in paperwork. This was quite difficult since I was on the brink of death and shaking uncontrollably. “What seems to be the problem?” Said the irritating woman behind the counter. “ I think I am having an allergic reaction to my allergy medicine.” I told her. I didn’t even have the energy to chuckle at the irony of the situation! That should give you an idea of how bad things were! I was escorted to a room and two nurses took my vitals and gave me a brown paper bag. “ I don’t feel like I am going to be sick.” I said, handing the bag back to her. “No, honey, you are supposed to breath into the bag. It will help to calm you down.” Calm me down? I am calm! It’s my body that is freaking out! I reluctantly took the bag and cupped it around my mouth. While they buzzed around my I started breathing in and out of the bag, watching it expand and contract. Someone handed me a tiny white pill and some water. The medicine kicked in immediately and I felt my body melt a little. After what seemed like eternity, the doctor came in and sat down next to me. “ Congratulations Katherine!” He said. “ You have survived your first panic attack!”

Thus began my endless war with anxiety. 

That’s the funny thing about panic. Once your brain takes itself to the level of a full-on panic attack, it has adequately greased the rails so that, any time something makes you nervous or stressed, your brain slides right on over that same panic and terror side of reality.  Now that I have clocked in thousands of hours of first-hand anxiety and panic experience I like to think of myself as somewhat of an expert on the subject. Below you will find my top 8 tips and tricks for surviving a panic/anxiety attack (also known as ‘you are not actually going to die’ therapy).

KATHERINE’S TOP 8 TRICKS FOR LIVING THROUGH A PANIC ATTACK

1.   GET OFF THE 15TH FLOOR.

As many of you know, with panic comes a plethora of wholly irrational fears including, but not limited to, a suddenly crippling fear of heights (more specifically, the fear of falling out of a window)

2.   STOP DRINKING COFFEE

The only thing worse than a panic attack is a panic attack on caffeine. 

3.   READ A REALLY JUICY ROMANCE NOVEL

It may sound strange, but I have found it quite helpful when experiencing an intense sensation like panic to replace it with, well, another intense sensation.

4.   GO FOR A WALK OUTSIDE

It’s helpful, when your mind has convinced you that the world is ending, to get on outside and see for yourself. Chances are, the world is carrying on quite normally and all the gloom and doom is in your head. 

5. GET IT ON. 

Need I say more?

6. GO FOR A RUN.

I find it quite comforting to know that I can outrun my anxiety. The sorry bastard is really out of shape.

7. DO A LITTLE SHOPPING

Whether it’s grocery shopping, clothes shopping or any other kind of shopping it will help you feel normal and grounded.

8. BREATHE! 

It’s the first thing to go and the last thing you want to forget.

Did I forget anything? Let me know! I would love to hear your experiences with anxiety.

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2 thoughts on “PANIC: HOW TO COPE

  1. I have been experiencing horrid bouts of anxiety the past couple of weeks, also. I’ve had two panic attacks in my life; I would not wish that on anyone. Truly the only thing that relieves a panic attack for me is Xanax. I have tried running, yoga, and many of the tips you’ve mentioned above. But once my brain is in full-on panic mode, it is impossible to stop. Any type of exercise, especially yoga, does assuage anxiety, but once I’m in the midst of a panic attack, nothing helps except medication. I wish it were easier. Anxiety sucks.

  2. You are most definitely not alone in this. I can personally vouch for Tip #6. Getting out for a walk (or ride, in my case) makes a huge difference. Good luck to you. 🙂

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