Anxiety attacks happen. They happen fast and they happen hard to millions every day. The attacks are frightening and take a toll on your well-being. The first step in is to realize that the feeling of “you’re going to die” is an anxiety attack. The next step is knowing you and only you have the power to control them. It won’t happen overnight, after all it took you some time to get to this “heightened state” of anxiety, but it can be done. How do I know, I was a sufferer myself.
The first step is knowing what it is
Giving a name to the condition allows you to take action. I didn't know what was happening to me. Heart attack? Asthma attack? Am I going crazy? Cancer? One visit with my personal physician for a regularly scheduled checkup brought the subject up. I was given a clean bill of health. I was in such denial of an existing emotional state that when he asked me if anything else was going on with my body or I had any complaints, I said no. These attacks had taken over my life and I said I was fine. We began talking and out it popped, “yes I am having a problem.” He told me it was anxiety or panic attack. I felt some relief immediately, it’s not cancer, and its not my heart.
“But I can’t help you with it, there’s nothing I can do about it.” Freaking out again, now what? You need to come in every two to three days and I will teach you how.” Teach me" I don't have time for teaching I might die I wanted it to stop now.
Never accept failure
When you are dealing with the human mind and a heightened emotional state, a one-size-fits-all approach seldom works for everyone. I didn’t want to fix me. I'm not a doctor. Anxiety attacks are powerful and scary and I wanted him to do what a doctor does, cut me open, or give me medicine, but please make it stop now.
The mind is extremely powerful and what you are not willing to deal with or are afraid to face on the outside of you in the dark, has a way of coming to light and making you pay attention. I agreed to the visits and in the meantime he gave me a bottle with about five or six pills in it that I was only to take a piece of each day.
The anxiety attacks didn’t stop with the taking of a pill
But allowing myself to relax and stop pushing for a quick easy cure while doing nothing but listening as the doctor spoke, did volumes. “Stop pushing I told myself, petrified at the thought of having another attack, “ stop interrupting and listen.” The doctor explained that I was under emotional duress. Who me? I’m the picture of calm, all my friends think I’m so laid back and easy to get along with. He used the “D” word, denial. “You aren’t having anxiety attacks because everything is calm and rational around you. You’ve gotten good at pushing it deep down inside of you, away so far that it’s not a problem for you anymore.”
I didn’t know if that made me feel better or worse. On the drive home from the doctor’s office I pondered the subject and admitted finally to myself, that yes I had been through a lot in my life. It had been a very stressful life and I began to cry. Everything that was pushed down inside me all those years, welled up and flowed over board. I had to pull the car over.
“What’s going on around you when you are having the anxiety attacks”
Breathing exercises. Breathe in for five seconds. Hold it for two seconds. Exhale for 7 seconds. When you are having an anxiety attack the last thing you want to do is hold your breath for any amount of time, especially when you are gasping for air for the life of you. But it’s one way for the “little” you to gain control of the “big” you and take your life back. It doesn’t happen overnight but over the course of time you’ll remember to start practicing the technique a little bit more each time during your attacks, and like meditation, it gives you something else to focus on. Again focus doesn’t happen overnight, it takes with practice.
Half way through the adventure in anxiety
I would get upset and cry, why is this happening to me, when will it stop. But the doctors words encouraged and empowered me to find my courage and take control of my body back. One day during an attack, I got mad and slammed my fist on the couch and told myself aloud, “ I am in control. Stop it. This stuff has got to stop.” The attacks continued, but very little by little I got control back. It was a turning point. It also involved looking around me, at my surroundings at the time the anxiety attacks where occurring.
- Who is around you, what is really going on right now,
- Where do you really want to be right now,
- When are you going to take the action to deal with it-what are your options,
- How are you going to move forward with this information.
Exercise to relieve the stress is a must. I was skinny and barely weighed 100 pounds what did I need to exercise for. The doctor told me the story of cell memory. What you are not able to bring to the surface just yet emotionally, your body has been holding in storage all of this time, and it desperately needs relief. The anxiety attacks are a sign that you are on overload.
Your diet. I was skinny and I barely ate due to the emotional duress I would later come to realize, and my choices were not always healthy ones. A candy bar on the run was my way to eat a meal, because slowing down for a meal would mean I had time to sit in my energy and face what had been going on in my life.
I would either cry, scream or punch the wall for days if I allowed it to come out. Letting my feelings out and crying or talking as needed was not allowed growing up. I stayed busy working or being with friends always going places always “doing.” Slow down and make the time to cook and eat real healthy food. As emotions come up journal or diary them, get it all out in a safe and healthy way, even if it means you are just writing the same word over and over.
My anxiety attacks left me forever, mediation and regular exercise came in and I always keep a journal, my personal sounding board. During a messy divorce almost two decades later, the attacks tried to rear their ugly head again. But I gained control of my mental state and my body’s healthy state and sent them on their way.
It’s so easy to dive into drugs and alcohol when you are under stress as a way to numb out. It makes matters worse. It may not seem like it at the time, and it looks like a quick and easy “fix.” Eventually the drugs and alcohol stop working and it wrecks lives and then you’ll have that to clean up too.
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