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Anxiety and Panic Attacks (1 Viewer)

notsocordial

Senior Member
I am sitting on my bed, reading a book, drinking my second cup of coffee for the day. I see it's time for dinner. So, I finish the coffee quickly but then change my mind to eat dinner later. I smirk at myself for being so fickle, so many thoughts invade my mind. It's so strange how our minds travel the whole world in a blink of an eye. I feel a thumping on my chest, a feeling of restlessness. It feels like something is pulling me from all sides, there is a tightening in the stomach. My hands and feet turn cold, yet I'm sweating. My muscles twitch and I feel queasy. I realize my eyes have become teary. I am undergoing some really disturbing thoughts now. There is a chaos in my brain and I am scared. I feel loss, hurt and pain. I feel failure, detachment, and loneliness. All at once.

I know you can relate to this, but to those of you who can not- trust me, it's good that you can not. On most mornings, I would open my eyes and lie on my bed, trying to get up. A shiver would pass throughout my body anticipating how I am going to go about the day. A certain kind of fear would rise, worrying about things that do not exist, would never happen. "Never" scared me. My heart would sink when I would think about things that I have no control over.


The sad reality is people going through anxiety and panic attacks have no idea what it is when it is happening to them. Since no one ever talks about it and it is not treated as a health issue, there is no knowledge of any precaution or diagnosis to this when it is happening. When I first experienced this, I had no idea what was going on and why. I would twist and turn my brain cells trying to comprehend the reason behind this but that'd only aggravate the panic. A devious feeling of being lost and helpless, desperately trying to make myself feel calmer.


I had no idea that there's a trigger to this. There is always a trigger. It might be as small as someone speaking in a loud voice or even as difficult as a broken marriage, but there is always a trigger. Finding that trigger is the first step. No one can help you with that but yourself. You have to sit your chaotic mind down and ask the reasons for which it is dancing all over the place. Are you reminded of something from your past? Did you lose someone? Are you unable to focus on something? Are you unable to achieve something? Did you suffer abuse from someone? Did someone betray you? These are a few of the many questions you should be asking yourself before you figure out a trigger.

Your trigger might be a cumulative of many experiences (like mine) too. But, you have to take the first step and figure that out first. It might take some time, don't worry. Give it as much time as needed. Few days, weeks or even months. If you cannot do it yourself, take help. Talk to a therapist. They are trained to extract your deeper insights from your subconscious. One thing we need to remember after we have found the trigger is- it is not your enemy. We have to make room in your head for all the thoughts that it triggers. There has to be an understanding between us and the trigger and we must share compassion with it rather than shoo it away. When I realized what my trigger was, I made sure I don't ignore it. I wanted to make friends with it and co-exist with it in peace. We have to understand that it is our experience and thoughts and the repercussions of it that generated it in the first place. Would you treat something which is yours badly? When you practice making peace with your trigger, you will not be scared of it when it instigates attacks.


Oh, I almost forgot an important thing. Cut down on caffeine, alcohol, and drugs. If you keep giving supplements to your mind to function better or soothe down, you will merely suppress the problems but never learn to handle it with care. One thing that really worked for me was maintaining a good diet, and having Chamomile Tea. If you need to choose, pick tea over coffee. I know all the coffee-addicts must be worried by now, but remember, everything that's bad seems really good at first (and vice versa ;)). Give it a shot.


Now, I know this might sound overstated, but meditation and a good 15 minutes of exercise before you start your day really helps. I think the science behind this is when your body feels good, your mind automatically feels better. A sense of good health and freshness is revived. The tension in the muscles release and it just makes it all better.


Anxiety and panic attacks do not show prior signs and they do not leave a "Sorry" note after they're gone. People who often go through this strange series of emotions know how excruciatingly painful it is. We have no idea when it came, how long it is going to stay and how many sleepless nights it is going to bring for us. Meetings, parties, even when we're just sitting alone and sipping our cup of tea, it will knock at our door. We will open it, invite it, and it will leave us drained of energy, happiness, and good thoughts. Self-doubt, self-depreciation, and self-humiliation will lie on the floor and we will sit broken on the floor.
Hey, but this is exactly when we need to understand it is coming from within and we have the power in us to bring it under our control. We have it in us to not give in; not let it shatter us, burn us.
 

Amnesiac

Senior Member
I am a combat vet, and deal with PTSD. Sharp, sudden noises are the worst. Crowds, screaming children, the smell of burnt flesh, hair, or food, or peoples' unrestrained anger... All of these are pretty heavy triggers. When I'm triggered, every muscle tenses, my heart starts pounding, and adrenaline floods through me. It's like being a passenger in my own body. My go-to seems to be anger; usually far beyond what the situation warrants. There have actually been brain-scans done on combat vets with PTSD, and they've discovered that there are actual brain-structure changes that take place; namely, hypertrophy of the amygdala, which is the seat of emotion. Other structures in the brain also undergo change, but this was, to me, the most pertinent finding.

I've meditated regularly for years. What I've found, is that the trigger response is more like a bell-curve. Unchecked, the emotion and anxiety crest at my personal maximum, and I'm unable to calm myself or regain control for a time, and then it gradually ebbs and I go back to "normal." (Whatever the fuck "normal" is...) But if I can turn within during the embryonic stage of the ramp-up, I can say, "I'm feeling anxious," or, "I'm feeling frustrated," or, "I'm feeling angry." At this point, it's like pinching out the fuse on a stick of dynamite. It short-circuits the whole thing, and I'm able to maintain control. This gives me a split-second, which is all I need, to choose how I'm going to react, IF I'm going to react, or simply go outside and get some fresh air.

Your mileage may vary...
 

Bard_Daniel

Senior Member
I deal with anxiety among my other issues and I feel that you encapsulated this very well. Opening with an anecdote of the literal manifestations of the disorder was an excellent, spell-binding way to grab your readers attention. I felt that you could have taken that a TINY step further, but that was it. The advice was solid and backed by your own understanding of the topic (which was good) and I, overall, enjoyed the piece.

You're getting better at this! Keep at it, notsocordial! :D

P.S.

Frank,

You have also offered some great descriptors and your personal, relevant experience added much perspective. Thanks for sharing your experience. :)
 

notsocordial

Senior Member
I am a combat vet, and deal with PTSD. Sharp, sudden noises are the worst. Crowds, screaming children, the smell of burnt flesh, hair, or food, or peoples' unrestrained anger... All of these are pretty heavy triggers. When I'm triggered, every muscle tenses, my heart starts pounding, and adrenaline floods through me. It's like being a passenger in my own body. My go-to seems to be anger; usually far beyond what the situation warrants. There have actually been brain-scans done on combat vets with PTSD, and they've discovered that there are actual brain-structure changes that take place; namely, hypertrophy of the amygdala, which is the seat of emotion. Other structures in the brain also undergo change, but this was, to me, the most pertinent finding.

I've meditated regularly for years. What I've found, is that the trigger response is more like a bell-curve. Unchecked, the emotion and anxiety crest at my personal maximum, and I'm unable to calm myself or regain control for a time, and then it gradually ebbs and I go back to "normal." (Whatever the fuck "normal" is...) But if I can turn within during the embryonic stage of the ramp-up, I can say, "I'm feeling anxious," or, "I'm feeling frustrated," or, "I'm feeling angry." At this point, it's like pinching out the fuse on a stick of dynamite. It short-circuits the whole thing, and I'm able to maintain control. This gives me a split-second, which is all I need, to choose how I'm going to react, IF I'm going to react, or simply go outside and get some fresh air.

Your mileage may vary...

I am so sorry for whatever you have to go through. Thanks for sharing this with us though. One day at a time :)
 
I've had panic attacks ever since I was really little. . .fortunately I had parents who were understanding so I was able to have a handle on what was happening to me. Even then, though, it's disorienting and hard to understand. I appreciate you taking the time to write this; it covers the experience of anxiety as well as some ways to deal with it. I get the idea that your audience is people who have anxiety, but I think it could also be helpful for people who don't but want to understand.

Your opening was solid but this sentence--
I am undergoing some really disturbing thoughts now.
--took me out of the moment. If you could qualify what those thoughts are I think it would keep the tension necessary for the opening.
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
Amnesiac, I always feel so inadequate when hearing how PTSD affects someone. It's hard for me to relate, even though I'm Irish, with red hair and have been known (in my youth) to have a hair-trigger temper. I'm not trying to be funny here, just saying that it is the other vets who will understand this the best, but I do thank you for explaining it so succinctly. Every time I hear of the horrors of war, I want to send the info to the powers that be, so no wars ever, ever again take our young men or women and screws with their brains enough that the pain and fear never end, but I know that will never happen. I often wonder if any of them have spent time with a Vet, really listened to what they had to say about how the images linger, how the anger takes over at surprising moments, long after he or she has put away their combat boots and helmets. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your bravery and also, again, for explaining how your PTSD continues to express itself.
 

Amnesiac

Senior Member
Sue, thank you so much. Most of the time, I'm okay. I refuse to be victimized by it, and the thing about PTSD: It IS treatable and it DOES get better. There are other things... Survivor's guilt, lots of avoidance... I don't care to see any kind of war movies anymore, and although I've become better at dealing with crowds, it's definitely not my favorite. It would be great if there were no more war, but this is a warring planet, and as long as this Earth remains, it will forever be so.

The hardest thing is when I'm traveling, and I see men in uniform headed to Iraq, Afghanistan, or other places, and I think, "Why am I in civilian clothes? Those are my guys!" and I feel guilty; diminished... I don't talk much. Other old crows blab endlessly about how they were in the military and what they did, and I think, "Shut up. These guys don't care one bit. They don't want to be thanked, hear stories from has-beens, or feel like they have to fake some polite facade. They want to go, do their jobs, and get home. That's it. That's all." *sigh*

There's this collective national guilt about how the Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home, but there's something to be said for being allowed to quietly blend back into society, too. It's definitely a weird spot... Like, unending awkwardness. LOL
 

Amnesiac

Senior Member
One more thing, NotSoCordial: If, when you feel the anxiety creeping up on you, if you can go to a restroom and run cold water over your wrists, it helps. Why, I don't know, but it does.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
I know you can relate to this, but to those of you who can not-
It is not exactly an oxymoron, but I think it should be 'I know some can relate to this'

have no idea what it is when it is happening to them.
Minor, but it is worth considering the order things are presented 'People having panic attacks have no idea what it is' is a complete concept which is then adjusted temporally. Put that first and it is clear instantly, ' When it is happening to them people having panic attacks ...'

there is no knowledge of any precaution or diagnosis to this when it is happening
.At first I thought 'Diagnosis of', no 'Precaution to', but then it occurred to me 'there is no knowledge of any precaution or diagnosis when it is happening.'

Sorry I hit 'Post' in error. I will return.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
Hi, a good night's sleep and here I am again :)
When I realized what my trigger was, I made sure I don't ignore it.
You switch tense here, may I suggest 'not to ignore it'?

Starting sentences 'Now,' or 'Hey,' is a conversational gambit, it can make sure your audience is listening and it can give the speaker time to think. Neither are needed in writing, though it can give a 'feel' to it to some extent.

I have commented on the writing rather than the experience, it is not one I have, though it does seem similar to extreme emotional distress in some ways. You get the feeling across very well.
However, I was listening to a radio programme the other day which was talking about the considerable effects that the bacteria in out gut have on our thinking. People are beginning to discover that there is an intimate two way connection between us and those colonies, one scientist went so far as to say he no longer thought of them as separate from him, but rather thought of himself as a conglomerate being that included them. It does make me wonder if that might be at least part of the reason why diet has such an effect.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
I take anti-anxiety medications. It's been a year since I have gone to a movie theater. The noises or a good scare from the movie itself can trigger it. I have no anxiety or nearly as much it seems. I do not know if going to the movie theater would affect me as much. I will say this, anti-anxiety medicines are worth it if you can control the symptoms. Anxiety is studied by psychiatrists. I know it can create a sense of dread and fear of what other people are thinking of you. Which in my case in the past caused auditory hallucinations. I am not alone in this. Thanks for posting a small personal essay on it. It increases awareness of it. Part of the reason I don't leave the house is that anxiety attacks me. I fear the medicine will stop working. So I don't expose myself to it. Besides, I plan to when I have a source of income to change the way I go to places. I always go with family members because it is not easy to feel mistreated for whatever reason the person may have.

P.S. I was told to not drink coffee since it can make things worse during anxiety and panic attacks.
 

hectortwede

Member
It is actually surprising how much the society and the people around us affect us. Most depressions and anxieties are caused by the outer factors. I used to be a grad student and I suffered from anxiety and stress a lot.
 

TMarie

Senior Member
I didn't realize PTSD could be the result of 'anything' traumatic until I was in counselling a few years back, and discovered that sexual abuse as a child created PTSD with intimacy as an adult (not just sexual). The therapist I was seeing suggested EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) which has helped immensely with those memories, and I am better able to process through triggers ... not 100% mind you, but enough that they aren't debilitating.

I commend you and anyone who faces trauma head-on and finds what works so that life is a bowl of cherries, rather than the pits.
 

Foxee

Patron
Patron
The therapist I was seeing suggested EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) which has helped immensely with those memories, and I am better able to process through triggers ... not 100% mind you, but enough that they aren't debilitating.
I just heard of EMDR for the first time last week. I'm interested in it if I can find someone who is qualified (the one person I know is swamped with clients and I'd be on a long waiting list).
 
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