1. What one thing did you do better today?
Serenity; the state of being peaceful and calm; a state I am today able to get myself into. To have the ability to do so on this day particularly it is mostly thanks to a peaceful surroundings of nature, sea, a good book and an even better company. To have the ability to do so these days in general, it is thanks to a number of things, one of them being panic attacks that I wish to write about today. My story about them, experience I wish to share and lessons learned from it – in answer to question number 3. As I did not want to leave any important parts out, this post will continue in comments. Anyone having any questions, stories or experience wanting to share – leave a comment, send me a message – always more than welcome and appreciated.
2. Has doing so made you or someone else feel better?
The serenity state – me and my company. Writing about panic attacks – I wish to possibly inform someone on the issue, offer consolation or words of familiarity to those who know what going through it feels like. You are not alone.
3. Has it brought any new realisations?
My first ever panic attack happened less than a year ago. When it happened, I had no clue what was going on. I only realised afterwards this is called a panic attack. It was my worst one, a nightmare that lasted for almost two hours and I am sure I experienced it in such an extreme, horrible, I-am-going-to-die way is mostly due to not knowing what it was. This is why I wish to write about it – I hope more people would know what a panic attack is, how to recognise its symptoms and be equipped with some very basic knowledge on how to get over it. How I felt it? I woke up crying, it was in the morning and I had so many thoughts running through my head I thought I cannot handle them anymore. Just random quickly passing thoughts, most of them coming from fear. I felt pins and needles in my left arm, my heart started to beat really fast, my breathing was shallow, I was sitting on a chair, my body restless, shaking, I called my mom and all I was repeatedly saying was “I am not OK.” My mom wanted to come pick me up but I felt like I couldn’t move. To even imagine putting my shoes on was impossible, the thought of having to move, change my position was overwhelming. “I am not OK, I am not OK, I am not OK.” I thought this is it for me, I have gone mad. Then I somehow got myself to bed, fell asleep, woke up tired as if I have just ran 20k, however I knew what I was experiencing earlier was a phase, a thing that passed, a very intense thing that is not meant to last long, that I have not gone mad. This happened only a few days prior to me being diagnosed with a burnout. My doctor then informed me on panic attacks, prohibited me to read any forums and instead gave me some literature on panic attacks as she knew I would want to know all about it. What I found from it and the main thing that helped me to get over panic attacks after was this – when experiencing it you feel highly in danger, as if your life is at risk and you are completely out of control, however you have to remind yourself this is only how you feel and what you think. When experiencing a panic attack, your life is not in danger. What helps immediately is controlled, slow and deep breathing. What also worked for me was looking at familiar things that grounded me, my plants for example. To be in a known, safe environment. Touching a table, a chair, feeling my feet touching the ground and calming myself with this thought – this will pass, you feel in danger, but you are not. It is a phase, it will pass. Another realisation experiencing it brought is this – so many people experience it!! I was shocked after I told some of my friends about what happened and a majority of them then shared with me their own experience. I remember thinking – why did we not talk about this before?! Why did I not know so many of my friends suffered from it in the past? It was then that I made a decision to speak openly about my story. I wish everyone would know what a panic attack is to be able to recognise it when it happens (hopefully it never does) and to have the knowledge it is something common, it happens at some point to many people and you will not die from it. Another lesson I have learned so far is that to feel at peace and not in fear of another attack happening is a long term work, on all the small things. Panic attacks then repeated for me but none of those that followed were nearly as stressful and intense as the first one. They usually lasted only a few minutes or even seconds. What works for me to stay away from them or to accept them as they come is to spend as much time in nature, to notice your thoughts and when they seem more powerful and worrying, spend extra time with people you love, doing things you love and avoiding technology and an income of too many information at once (social media, news, screens, crowds). To finish this – serenity is a state I can experience now even more strongly and I truly value it also due to going through panic attacks – for me the very opposite state of serenity.