I never felt as alone I when I had bad panic attacks. When your brain suddenly goes nuts and you feel like you can’t control anything within yourself and outside anymore, your ears have this tendency to shut themselves down automatically to what anyone else could be saying. You just focus on how feel, on how bad you feel, and on how you are probably going to die in the next few minutes.
In reality, things don’t always have to be like that. With time, I learned that when other people I knew were around me, I could count on them, and I was certainly not alone. Of course, what we are going through when a panic attack comes out is usually very hard, sometimes even impossible to understand for someone who has never experienced it. However, that is far from meaning they cannot help us.
Personally, I have always been shy when it comes to talking about my anxious condition. I have always seen it as something I should hide, someone I was ashamed of because I didn’t know how to control it. I didn’t realize that, by talking about it to others, I could find a way out. I could pace myself during the worst attacks.
My father was the one who really started to help. I didn’t have to say anything to him, and in that regard I was very lucky, he just looked at me and knew what to do. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t work from the first time, and the beginning were rough. When I was having a crisis, it was hard for him to understand why I was acting like that, ignoring him and everything else. He didn’t get that I couldn’t actually control myself.
However, once he got the extent of what I was going through, everything changed. He was there to make me feel safe, to pace me up, to make me come out of the panic attack. How? Well, through a very simple process, that can be applied to everyone. I’m sure you probably heard that a hundred times already, but it all comes to one thing: breathing.
During my worst panic attacks, my father used to take me outside, in a quiet place, and had me lie down. I always felt like I was about to die, like I couldn’t breathe anymore, and I was screaming. To reassure me, he used to say that everything was alright, that I was in my normal environment, that nothing had changed. It was just a panic attack. Now, that is a key thing you have to keep in mind. When you get those symptoms, repeat to yourself that it is only a panic attack, that it is not dangerous and that nothing will happen to you. If someone is with you at that moment, have them say that to you too.
Then, he made me focus on my breathing. Only that. Focus on the movements of your chest going up and down. If you are not alone and experience focusing all by yourself, ask this person to say out loud ‘breathe in, breathe out’. Feel the air coming in and out of your body, and put all your thoughts on that. This will have two effects. First, it will take your mind off the panic attack itself and will prevent you to work yourself up into an even worse state. Unconsciously, without even realizing it, you will be calming down. Second, by controlling the rhythm of your breathing, it will regulate your oxygen flux and also bring the attack to an end.
A good way to start on the way to eradicates those nasty panics…!