I trained my mind to deal with a panic attack.
I was standing at the subway station in New York City with my boyfriend. The fluorescent lights shone above my head and the subway cars were on the tracks around me. It was sticky and humid in New York City during the summer. Hundreds of people were crammed into the narrow halls of the subway station waiting for the next train. There are 7 steps.
This was not a heart attack. It wasn’t until several weeks later that I realized I had suffered a panic attack. I was struck with a hot flash, and my vision shifted, showing my world off-kilter. I broke out in a raging sweat and my vision wasn’t correct. I couldn’t hold my weight anymore after my knees shook. I fell to the ground because I was so scared that I was going to die. I said goodbye to my boyfriend as he cradled me in his arms on the bench to wait out what was happening to me. I told him to call the police because I knew he needed assistance.
I was wrong about it. I wondered if I could have a panic attack if I wasn’t panicked. In that moment, before the episode, I didn’t feel particularly scared or nervous. I had always thought that if you had a panic attack, you needed to be in a state of stress or anxiety.
The panic attack was a wake up call. I knew I needed to take control of my anxiety because I had been ignoring it for so long. The panic attack came out of the blue. I woke up to the fact that my anxiety had gotten out of my control after it screamed at me so loudly. I was distraught when I broke up with someone I thought was the love of my life, but I thought I had done a good job of keeping my anxiety in check.
I think the best thing I have ever done for myself is seek therapy. I now recommend therapy to everyone, because I am such a believer in it. A third party professional can help you with your problems without a diagnosis. Panic attacks seem to be quite common, and they are terrifying. There are techniques that can be used to reduce the occurrence of panic attacks, even though there is no cure.
The article is not about therapy. It is about how I was able to deal with panic attacks in the moment to buy myself time to see a therapist. I didn’t want to see a therapist since I was 16. I wanted to be able to handle my problems on my own, and to prove my strength in a way. Seeking therapy was surrendering to the fact that I didn’t have the money to pay for it. I am so glad I did. If you find the right therapist that practices the kind of therapy that is right for you, it will give you some relief and help you to navigate this world with more ease.
From a young age, I have been playing detective on my own medical problems. When I was younger, my ER- doctor father would consult me with challenging medical cases that needed a creative solution and I would ponder over them for weeks. I was obsessed with the scientific method, and this likely inspired my constant self-experimentation and academic pursuit of Epidemiology. I want to share my experience since I have been able to calm my body naturally since I faced panic attacks head on.
When I had my first panic attack at 22 years old, I decided to try different mental techniques at the time, instead of taking daily anxiety medication. It was a new challenge for me to solve when I was a child. I used to suffer horrible, disabling migraines in college. I have not had a migraines since I discovered that vegetarianism reduced my headaches.
If you are willing to try something different, then my advice is here, because the techniques I have tried have worked for me in combatting my anxiety and panic attacks. For the past 4 years, I have been panic attack-free because of these techniques.
The setting that brought on the panic attack was risky. I kept telling myself that a panic attack wouldn’t kill me, and I needed to understand why it happened. Evaluating my body and mind while in the subway helped me to understand how I was feeling. I understood that I was trapped in a cramped space and felt claustrophobic. I realized that I was over stimulated by the combination of people, lights, and sounds.
I was scared to revisit that subway station since I had my first panic attack there. I thought that if I could get myself to be ok in the subway station, that I would win against anxiety. I started to spend more time in subway stations as a result of taking it on as a challenge. I would sit on a bench and look at myself. How was my breathing? What was my heart rate? I was wondering what I was thinking. How was my day? Was it a nervous moment? What is triggering me to be nervous?
I was bigger and stronger than it and it was manageable. When I learned what was making me anxious, I knew that it was something that could be managed. It felt like the anxiety had been reduced from a large black cloud to something that could fit in my hand.
It was difficult to face the sources of my nervousness. Pre-panic attack symptoms are still present when I ride the subway. I realized I needed to go further than just understanding my symptoms. I sought to immerse myself in my nervous triggers after taking the time to learn and understand them, instead of avoiding them. I think this practice is similar to immersion therapy, but I felt stronger facing my fears head-on rather than avoiding them, and they had less power over me and like I was the one in control.
I would close my eyes and imagine myself on a wide, expansive, airy beach with soft warm sand and crystal blue waters. I was able to imagine myself in this other world and it gave me a lot of relief. I could take the subway car to a place where I could relax and breathe. I decided to take myself somewhere else when I started to experience symptoms of anxiety and pre-panic attack, like feelings of hot flashes, band-like headaches, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and flustered thoughts. Not physically, but mentally.
My heart rate would slow down, my muscles would unclench, and my chest would open up so I could breathe again. I was offered relief even though I was in a place that made me stressed. My body was able to relax when I saw this place in my mind.
I gathered the strength to get out of the theater and sit on a bench. A friend was there to help me as I was completely out of it. It felt like I had been hit in the head with a baseball bat and I was not sure what was real or not. I was exhausted the rest of the night after only 20 minutes of the show. It felt like I had just finished a marathon, and the storm was so intense that I could not sleep for days.
I was watching a war movie in a large dark theater, where the loud banging, flashing lights, and commotion of the movie mimicked a situation similar to the subway station. I felt a band around my head and thought it was just a throbbing head ache, until my world tilted and I started hyperventilating I wasn’t nervous about anything, it all happened so fast. I had never been affected by a movie like that before.
I was able to face that stress head on by continuing to immerse myself in places that caused me stress, but I did decrease it to a manageable level. That was enough. It was enough to get me through the moment and the collections of moments that turned into days, until I could seek professional help.
This experience gave me a better idea of what I was going through. I realized that I get nervous in cramped spaces, not just subway stations. It helped me to understand that I get triggered by bright lights, flashing, and loud noises, not just in the subway station. The experience didn’t kill me and INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals INRDeals
1 Sit or lie down. You should look around you. I would describe my techniques for managing panic attacks.
You can touch 4 things. There are 5 things you can see.
There are 2 things you can smell. You can hear 3 things.
It will help you to feel more in control of your environment. This is a good way to help you in the moment, before you start to understand what causes your panic attacks. You can taste one thing.
In this technique, you close your eyes and imagine yourself in a space that doesn’t cause you anxiety, a space in which you feel comfortable and in control. That space is an open place for me. A large field of grass or a clear beach are possibilities. Allow your mind to lead you to that place. If you feel like you are in that place, your mind and body will relax as well. There are 2. A safer space can be visualized.
You should be a student when you feel anxious or frightened because the environment you are in can make you feel worse. Take note of the situations that might cause anxiety. What is causing you to be anxious or what is causing you to feel different ways? You can record these observations in a notebook. There are 3. You should be aware of your anxiety.
You can begin to understand it once you become aware of your anxiety. Why are these situations making you nervous or anxious? You might not be able to understand it on your own. This is a place where a therapist might be able to help you find some relief from panic attacks. Ask yourself about the feelings preceding the anxiety. There are 4. Understand how you are feeling.
If you understand why you feel anxious, you can sit with it. This is very painful for me. The pain lasts about 90 seconds, and once you make it through, you will feel pretty safe. It felt like I was free. I was able to feel like I could manage my anxiety because I knew I could sit with it. There are 5. Take a break from your anxiety.
This technique doesn’t work for everyone. I saw my anxiety as a challenge to be addressed. Not everyone will see the need to approach their anxiety this way, but that is fine. By embracing your anxiety, I mean going back to the situations that caused panic, sitting with the anxiety, and fending it off. It has helped me to re-frame my anxiety as something that I can control, rather than something that I have control over. You can deal with more situations where you feel anxious by feeling so. There are 6. Do you embrace or immerse yourself in your anxiety?
The most long-term relief with underlying anxiety has been provided by seeing a therapist. It is important to research therapists in your insurance network before choosing one or several to test out, as I have seen therapists that I don’t like. You should research therapists that specialize in the type of treatment you are looking for. Some therapy is better suited to different issues. The process of diving into my childhood didn’t provide relief for my daily anxiety, despite the fact that I’ve tried Cognitive Behavioral Therapy before. It made the situation worse. I have been seeing a therapist who practices Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which is a kind of therapy that is based on being present and living in the moment, and it has helped me to live more easily and address my problems and feelings in the moment. It has helped me greatly over the past year or so, and it is the first time in my life that I feel positive about my future. It can be difficult to find a therapist that works for you. If you don’t feel comfortable or trust your therapist, you can’t benefit from therapy. You are putting yourself in a very vulnerable situation, but one that will provide you with a lot of relief through the process. There are 7. You can talk to a therapist.
I want to say that there is always hope. Even if you feel like you have surrendered to your anxiety, you can recover from it. I have first-hand experience with that. It is not easy to help yourself or seek help. If you don’t have the strength now, that’s fine. Humans are not perfect. We don’t appreciate the light days without the dark days. You will discover that you are stronger than your anxiety when there is a light moment.
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