Another one of those posts that I’ve debated posting for a while. It’s nothing to do with embarrassment but I guess when you start a blog you have to decide how much about yourself you want to reveal, particularly those who don’t know you. My job involves working in the healthcare industry, most recently mental health which is really what got me thinking about this post and the impact we have as individuals on the mental health as a whole, as well as the healthcare professionals.
Those of you who know me well, will know I have a pretty long history with panic attacks and anxiety/panic disorder [insert picture of me and my beloved brown paper mushroom bag]. That being said, it’s something I never used to want to talk about unless in a situation where I had no other choice (the ones where you’re in the middle of shopping with friends and suddenly think you’re going to stop breathing or me on an airplane in general). And once the panic attacks stopped, I just wanted to forget it.
Now I’ve finally come to realise it’s nothing to be embarrassed about and pretending it’s not there doesn’t really change a thing. That being said, it took me a long time to get to this point. I wanted to share some tips to help and things to remember, with a view that at least one thing on this list might help someone somewhere. Obviously I’m not a doctor, but this is based on my own experience –
1. Symptoms of panic attacks are very real – Sometimes you really do feel like you’re going to die or stop breathing and if someone doesn’t understand that, that’s okay. But it doesn’t take away from what you’re going through and how real it is – it’s the adrenaline running through your body and it will pass.
2. Overcoming embarrassment can be key to recovery – One of the worst things is battling with the anxious thoughts alone. Sometimes holding it all in and hoping a panic attack won’t come, can only build up the anxiety. Your anxiety doesn’t change who you are.
3. Small lifestyle changes can make a huge difference – This is something you’ll figure out and what works best for you, for me I stopped drinking as much for a bit and tried to spend more time in fresh air. The changes don’t have to be forever either.
4. Say the alphabet backwards – Okay this is something I swear by, partly because at first it’s so difficult it’s a great distraction technique. By the time you’ve gone from Z to A, some of the symptoms should subside.
5. Repetitive phone games can help too – Something like Stack or Tetris is another good way to zone out of your panic.
6. Sometimes you just need to get angry at your anxiety and tell it to f**k off – Usually this is something I don’t say out loud .. It’s more of an internal thing. But basically don’t let it take over you, it’s like an annoying little brother and it doesn’t define who you are in the slightest.
7. Make something – Baking is my go-to, but it might be sewing or writing a blog. My Hummingbird Bakery book is a bit worse for wear now.
8. You’re not an inconvenience, you’re not weird, your life will go on and you’ll be stronger for it – Good things also come out of panic attacks, whether it’s your ability to sympathise, better emotional intelligence or general empathy towards others. Everyone has their own thing – they’re pretty messy, sometimes get a bit anxious or a complete shopholic. It’s just a thing, it’s not everything.
- 25 Stories of Panic Attacks and Living With Anxiety
- Zoella and Panic Attacks
- Accepting your anxiety can lead to peace