Coping with panic attacks
“a sudden overwhelming feeling of acute and disabling anxiety.”
Breathe in: 1… 2… 3 Hold: 1… 2… 3 Breathe out: 1… 2… 3
I have witnessed panic attacks, I have experienced panic attacks and I hate panic attacks. When I try to put pen to paper about the overwhelming feeling brought on by them, I can only describe it as an almost out of body experience. My hands and feet stung and my body felt weighted down and I cried for hours thinking that something was wrong. So what did I do? I texted my friend.
Here's some advice as to what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation:
(1) Tell a friend. Immediately, my friend knew what was wrong; he reassured me that I was not going to die and he spoke consistently until the panic attack was over. What he did was a technique I used for future experiences and still helps me to this day.
(2) Find a distraction. When I do not have a friend who is glued to their phone, I tend to use other means of distraction. First, I write down the main emotion I am experiencing (e.g. anger, sadness, fear) in the middle of a page and then I write words or draw pictures around it that explain how that emotion is making me feel. Other distractions can be playing music loudly (perhaps with earphones, for your neighbours’ sake), creating something: painting, origami, paper snowflake or even attempting to recite the alphabet backwards can be a helpful distraction.
(3) Remember. The most important thing to do is to remember where you are and remember that the panic attack will eventually pass. Although it can be a terrifying experience, it does not control you, it does not control your body, it does not control your mind and you can get past this. You are going to be okay.
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The articles here are written by guest writers or previous TWE members.