Tag: panic attack

Anxiety Diaries: My First Real Panic Attack

Thank you, artist, for this cartoon.

 

 

I wish I had some elaborate story where my first real panic attack was just after saving a box of kittens from drowning, and even though I suffered the debilitating panic attack, I managed to come out of it a heroine. Like Superwoman. Or Wonder Woman. Or another female superhero I don’t know the name of.

But no. Because this is me. My first real panic attack was walking across a crosswalk. That’s it. Just a random crosswalk.

Without a car, I do a lot of walking. When I had my first panic attack, I was walking across the street after hitting up Starbucks, just like I had done dozens of times before. The panic came when I was about halfway across, and I suddenly couldn’t move. I froze right there in the middle of the crosswalk at a super busy intersection. This wasn’t a little casual side street, it is a major street with a shit load of cars all waiting to pass. So there are about 20 cars on either side watching me as I stand without moving in the middle of a crosswalk, clutching my heart thinking I am having a heart attack, and not being able to breathe.

There were no warning signs, it just came out of nowhere. Completely random. I always thought a real panic attack would be triggered by something, or I would feel my normal anxiety first. But nope. One minute I’m fine, the next my feet feel like they’re made of concrete, I can’t breathe, my throat is dry, it feels like it’s about a million degrees, and my heart palpitations are so bad I just keep waiting for death to take me.

Luckily, I was able to move my concrete feet enough to stumble across and not die, but it sucked. I still felt like I couldn’t breathe and that my heart would stop beating any second, so I clutched my latte and ran for it. I don’t run, so you know this is serious. Like, if a serial killer was chasing me with an axe in his hand, I would try really hard to do a fast-ish walk.

It was about a week later when I realized I was traumatized by my first panic attack, and could no longer walk across that damn street. Since then, I have had all kinds of panic parties. When I’m riding in the car, while walking my dogs, just before falling asleep when the heart palpitations start, when I’m watching cartoons normal shows that adults watch.

I’m an introvert with social anxiety that now has her worse panic attacks when going outside; it’s a miracle I ever leave the house.

What about you? Have you ever suffered a similar experience? Tell me about so I don’t feel like a crazy weirdo.

JennSig

The Anxiety Diaries: Heart Palpitations

 

How cute is this heart plush? I want it.

At the very beginning of my new life with anxiety and crippling panic attacks, heart palpitations were my worst enemy. Nowadays, I don’t get them as often, but when I do, it ultimately leads to a panic attack lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to four hours or so. They are by far one of the worst things I experience, since I can literally feel my heart beating. Everyone has different situations that cause them to go into ultimate panic mode: for me, my biggest fears are not being able to breathe, choking, or that my heart will suddenly stop beating. Enter heart palpitations. Every time I can feel my heart beating so severely, I am just waiting for it to stop. It doesn’t make me feel better knowing it is still beating, it only gets me more anxious. So that leads to more anxiety and restlessness, which then makes the heart palpitations even worse.

It’s a vicious cycle with seemingly no end in sight. Have I mentioned how stupid panic attacks are?

Some nights, it is so terrible that I pass out as I am listening to the heavy, frightening beats, and wake up the next morning not sure how I managed to fall asleep. Other times, though, it takes me hours to relax.

stopheartpalpitations

Here are some helpful ways I have found that help me put a stop to the heart palpitations:

Distract yourself. It is by far the best way to start slowing them down. They won’t go away immediately, but if you can find something else to occupy your mind, they gradually calm. Personally, I have to get up and watch TV, read a book, or even write a blog post. The moving around helps as well as the mental distractions.

Get exercise. If you’re getting heart palpitations during daylight, you can go for a walk outside. In reality, any type of movement is helpful. I have found by moving around, I don’t notice the heart palpitations. once I think they’re gone, my heartbeats actually calm, really making them go away. It’s just a little trick I have learned.

Drink cold water. While you’re up, get a glass of cold water. For some reason, cold water slows down your heart rate and helps about 50% of the time for me. Mine get pretty bad, so I won’t lie and say this is a magical cure. Others swear by cold showers, but.. pass.

Perform breathing exercises. Anyone struggling with anxiety disorder or panic attacks should know proper breathing techniques. I’ll be honest here: they don’t work for me all that often, but that doesn’t mean they won’t work for you. Completely worth a try.

Things you shouldn’t do if you get heart palpitations frequently:

Drink excessive amounts of alcohol

Drink caffeine before bedtime

Take certain medications

Stay off Google. You WILL somehow end up on a page telling you palpitations mean an impending heart attack. Just don’t.

JennSig