8 Things You Can Do During A Panic Attack

When I was first learning to deal with my panic attacks I hated it that during an attack I would convince myself that I was going insane. That the feeling of terror was never going to go away and I was going to feel that way forever. I did that to myself every.single.time. and every.single.time I came out of it and felt fine a few hours later. I knew that I was going to be okay and that the feeling wasn’t going to last, but during an attack I just couldn’t help it. So I wrote myself a reminder in my “notes” on my iPhone so I could read it whenever I started to feel an attack coming on. I found that it actually did help. So that brings me to my first tip.

1. Write yourself a note when you are feeling good to remind yourself that the way you are feeling is only temporary. It WILL go away. Here is what I wrote to myself:

“You are going to be just fine. Everything is going to go right back to the way it was and you are going to forget all about this. Stay strong, you can do it. Take a deep breath. It’s almost over. There are so many people that love you and would be here right away if you needed them. I know it doesn’t feel like it right now, but you are going to be okay.” 

2. I always have a bottle of water handy. For some reason taking a drink of cold water calms me down. 

3. Go for a walk. 

3. Sort your laundry. I know this sounds silly, but it really helps me. Some people recommend watching videos but I can’t seem to keep my focus on that. Sorting laundry isn’t something that takes very long, and doesn’t take much concentration, but it will take your mind off of how you are feeling. Once you have it sorted, throw it in the washer and start it. 

4. Call a friend. Sometimes when I am having an attack I manage to convince myself that I might pass out or something, which makes me panic even more. Calling a friend and just telling them that you are having a panic attack can help. I always call my Mom. She knows that when I am having an attack I don’t want her to do anything. I just want her to know that I am having one. Sometimes she talks about what she is doing or what is new with my family and it takes my mind off of me.

5. Read articles about anxiety. I don’t do this much anymore but it used to help a lot. Just get online and read whatever you can find on the topic. There is so much useful information out there. 

6. Take a shower. I have a friend who also has really bad panic attacks. The only thing that helps him is to sit in the shower. I haven’t tried this. Like I said, sometimes I convince myself that I might pass out, and naked in the shower is the last place I want to do that. 

7. Take a deep breath, go in to an empty room, and take a moment to yourself. I had a pretty bad attack at work once. I am a hairstylist at really busy salon so I’m sure you can see how that made for a really bad environment to have a panic attack. Blow dryers going, women talking and laughing, people walking around everywhere, a fully booked schedule. BAD. I stopped what I was doing, excused myself, and went into one of our massage rooms. I sat down and told myself that everything was alright. Sometimes during an attack I get frantic. I rush around and try to leave wherever I am (if I’m not at home). Don’t leave. Just calm down. 

8. Relax. Lay on the floor on your back and relax all the muscles in your body. I think we all tense up during an attack. Focus on keeping your whole body relaxed. Take deep breaths. Close your eyes. 

I hope these help. Please comment below if I missed anything! 

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Who is Sarah (my story)

Who is Sarah

Hi There! I’m Sarah! Welcome to my blog!

Anxiety and Panic Attacks can be the scariest thing in the world. Trust me, I know, I’ve had them. A lot of them. Before I tell you my story, I just want you to know that you aren’t alone. When I first started having panic attacks I was terrified and I felt like I was the only person in the world that this awful thing was happening to. I wasn’t and you aren’t either. There are a million people in this world that are going through the same thing you are. Also, you are going to be okay. I promise. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

I was in my Sophomore year of college. I had a great boyfriend. My family was always there for me. I had more friends than I had time for. I had a great life. I was happy. I had just turned 21 and landed a job as a bartender at a local bar downtown. I went to work one afternoon and opened the bar just as I had done probably 10 times before. There were 2 people in the bar when my heart started beating. I started to feel sick to my stomach. I felt dizzy. I thought I was dying. I needed to get out. All I wanted was to leave. I managed to calm myself long enough to call my boss to come cover my shift. My boyfriend came to get me and I went to the emergency room. Once I was at the hospital I started to calm down. After an EKG and a few blood tests the doctor came in and told me I had an anxiety attack and sent me home. That was real helpful… NOT! It felt like the end of the world to me. Why was he acting so nonchalant about it!! I went home and went to sleep and went to classes without incident for the next week. The very next weekend I showed up to work and the second I walked through the door my heart started pounding. I immediately turned and walked out the door and never went back. I had no idea why these crazy episodes were only happening when I walked into that certain bar, but I was definitely not going back. Ever. Fast forward a few months to finals week. I was all prepared and ready to kick my finals in the tush. It was Saturday morning and I woke up not feeling well. I felt nauseous. I went into the bathroom to get sick and that is when my heart started pounding. I knew what was happening, but why was it happening here? I was in my own bathroom at my own house! I felt like the world was ending. This time was so much worse than the first. I was scared beyond belief, I couldn’t concentrate, I felt like I was going to pass out. “There is no way those doctors could possibly be right”, I thought. “There is something absolutely wrong with me.” I walked out of the bathroom and had my boyfriend drive me, yet again, to the emergency room. This time my Grandfather met us there, and this time I didn’t calm down when I got there. I still felt sick, I still felt nauseous, I still felt like I was dying/going crazy.  I decided I wasn’t leaving until they gave me some answers. After a few hours (which felt like torture) a psychiatrist came into my room. He asked me a few questions and we made an appointment for me to see him the next day. My Grandpa took me home with him that night and my anxiety/panic went on throughout the night. The next day I woke up in a panic. I could barely even shower and get dressed for my appointment with the psychiatrist. My anxiety came in waves (it still does).  It would be really bad and then I would start to calm down, then it would hit me hard again. I thought seeing this psychiatrist would help me. I thought he would just make it all go away. Boy was I wrong. He basically just told me I was a control freak, asked me a few more questions, and made my next appointment. I left his office completely let down. He tried putting me on anti-depressants which didn’t help. I wasn’t depressed. They just made my hands shake. Finally, I saw a woman psychiatrist who prescribed me with Xanax.  I hated the idea of taking a drug like that but it was the only thing that calmed me down. I though Xanax was for crazy people. I could not, would not, accept that I might have a mental illness. The first few months after my major panic attack were awful. I didn’t want to drive alone, go to class alone, get my hair done alone, or anything else. I went through periods where I convinced myself that the panic attacks were caused by something that I ate, so I would just stop eating certain things. The morning that my really bad panic attack happened I had drank Mountain Dew. To this day I cannot drink MD. I wouldn’t go anywhere that I couldn’t get up and leave quickly should I start to have a panic attack.  Slowly, with the help of my Xanax, I learned to cope with the panic attacks. I never took the Xanax on a regular basis. I probably didn’t even take it as often as I should because I was terrified of getting addicted to it. But just knowing that is was there and that it would help if I needed it made me feel better. I started reading articles to learn more about panic disorder and the more familiar I got with it, the more comfortable I was. I eventually started driving again and going places alone but I don’t think I will ever completely recover. I don’t really think anyone does. I still have days where I am anxious all day for no reason. I still have panic attacks. I have months where I feel completely normal and then months where I’m afraid to drive to the grocery store by myself. I think the only thing that you can do is keep pushing. Don’t let the anxiety/panic stop you from doing the things that you want to do. If you let it stop you, it will just continue to stop you. You have to fight back.

My reason for starting this blog is to help. Maybe if I had found a blog like this when I first started having panic attacks it would have helped me. I understand what you are going through. I am not a doctor, but I am a real person with plenty of experience in this area. I know that sometimes just talking about it can help. I also know what it is like to be embarrassed about what you are going through. If there is anything I can do to help, even if you just want to tell me your story, please email me. I want to hear from you. Really. Together we can make it better. 

sarah.anxiety@gmail.com

You are not alone. I’m here.

I wish I could tell you that your anxiety will completely go away. Kind of like a cold or the flu. That after a few weeks you will forget about it and move on with your life. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been true for me. I have weeks, even months where I feel almost completely normal, and then all of a sudden my anxiety is just as bad as it was in the beginning. Each time it is a little bit different and I don’t think everyones anxiety is the same. I think we all have very similar encounters or symptoms, but I don’t think that any two people have the exact same experience every time they have a panic attack. I have gone through times where I didn’t want to go out to dinner because I couldn’t get up and leave in a hurry. Where I didn’t want to take the ferry because I would be stuck in the city if I had a panic attack. Where I didn’t want to carpool because it would be too embarrassing if I had a panic attack and had to make everyone leave. Each time the anxiety or panic tries to stop you from doing what you want to do, you have to push it. You have to go out and do whatever it is that it is trying to stop you from doing. If you let it take over your life you won’t be happy. I know, I’ve been there. I’ve let it take over and it just keeps taking. Don’t let it. Each time you fight it and you accomplish what you wanted to do it makes you stronger. Go to dinner with your friends, take that bus trip, or do whatever it is that you want to do. Trust me, it will all be okay. 🙂 What are some things that your anxiety has stopped you from doing? Share your story in the comment section below.