Why I didn’t say hello in the grocery store
Thank you once again, Andrea. I suffer from diagnosed major depression, anxiety & panic disorders & agoraphobia, along with epilepsy. I honestly have no one that understands the daily nightmares, but you do. I'm so grateful for you.
Love to You, Always! 💙
Ahhhh, good old friend who kept me captive from my own experiences until I mastered it with my masters. It took me becoming a therapist to confidently meet a checkout line without checking out.
Full Disclosure and Public Apology to You Know Who You Are-
I have been that ass scolding, "Just Breathe".
I have said, "There's nothing here to fear-what's wrong-you're safe."
I have been that non-helpful, trauma amplifying, know it all.
I'm also capable of learning-Thank you to my Teachers, You Know Who You Are-
I promise to do better. I'll listen to you, the expert in being you.
I commit to learning to be being present with, instead of solving for, if given another chance.
Andrea, thank you for this window into your experience and for naming what can be true for so many.
Also, you made me laugh (after I cringed in self-recognition).
Happy National Poetry Month.
Thanks so much for sharing this with us. I've been dancing with anxiety and panic attacks since my early twenties. For the past decade, I thought the worst of it was behind me, and then I published my debut novel and did my first public event to promote it. Since then, every time I've done an event, I've had a huge anxiety attack. Solidarity with everyone who's going through this. Your advice is spot on and very welcome. So grateful for your candor and vulnerability!
Honestly the point about just letting the fear be is so true. Something I get so tense that I literally cannot do anything and in those times I pray for a panic attack, because then it happens and just leave and I feel better. Rather than just waiting in the anxiety for days on end. But whenever I’m going through one (and I’m glad I now know feel when their coming) I get sensitive to light, sound, touch. So I don’t like being touch or people telling me to ‘breath’, but without fail, Take me home by Jess Glynne is my go to. The song only works with my headphones and I can listen to the song about 5 times or until I calm down.
Neatest source of running water. If in public I turn on cold over both wrists turned up or side by side not touching. The blood circulated the body several times a minute. Blood cools, let it hurt. If severe, grab napkins and ask for ice, let it melt in the palms of your hands. The science is that your para sympathetic nervous system kicks in. This is the one that turns of the greedy for attention Sympathetic Nervous System trying to shut us down. I have been filled with rage to an intensity if healthy I would be a danger to others, but my screams are primal. I put my entire head shirt and all over the side of my shower with nothing but the coldest water. I was so filled with an emotion at that time, in an emotional flashback that I couldn’t feel the cold-only the soothing caress of water and the echo of shower trying to drown out my screams. In 1-3 minutes I found myself wet and tired, and still angry. Wait...I was appropriately angry. Yesterday no longer had control of my nervous system.
FREEZE IT OUT! Put your face in packages of frozen vegetables!!! Find your peas
For a long time, I had "Plastic Kathy." When I thought I couldn't do something, or felt the terror coming on, I'd mentally put on Plastic Kathy. She could do anything and her plastic was impervious to the outside world. So I could be there, protected, and participating. I was a public information officer for a federal agency and was interviewed for TV and Radio at least once a week. So wearing Plastic Kathy became such a habit that at a certain point I didn't even realize I was wearing her. Then I wore her out. I was a Fire Information Officer in the summers, and one day a fire blew up and killed 14 firefighters. I spent 3 days straight in the fire info trailer, never going home, just answering calls from media all across the planet, talking to distraught staff, family and friends, and coordinating search and rescue. On the afternoon that I had to tell my co-workers that one of our friends hadn't survived, I went home without telling anyone and went to bed. In the morning I was actually paralyzed. I couldn't get out of bed. And Plastic Kathy was gone. She'd done more than she could and she just vaporized I guess. Until today, I never really thought about how I survived after that without her. I can remember feeling raw and telling my therapist I wasn't coming in anymore because talking felt like road rash all over my body. But I did keep talking, and I got better, and usually I'm fine. Maybe Plastic Kathy is somewhere inside me, helping me breathe through things while letting me be just myself.
I don’t have panic attacks per say, but I have definite social anxiety as do my children. It’s taken me so many years to come to terms with it, and I’m still a work in progress. It feels like the conditioning that happens when we’re young tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, etc. What age and time has given me though is realizing if I go headfirst into things without giving that anxiety time to root itself in whatever event of the day involves socializing helps. My anxiety is still there, but I refuse to hear it until after everything is over. The bad part about that is after the fact I over analyze everything….I’m still working on that part. Did I mention I’m a work in progress? Thank you for these articles, and giving my brain new concepts to mull over. <3
Thank you. I felt seen. I don’t have panic attacks in public (only at night from sleeping 😢) but i do struggle with anxiety in public snd with my anxiety can be overwhelm, moodiness, and feelings of nervous system dysregulation. I have been told I seem unfriendly or unapproachable due to this and sometimes Im not in the mood to talk to others or be social in public. People have taken this as an offense when its just be dealing with my own shit in my head. I don’t want to be perceived this way but it is a part of me I no longer want to feel shame about, thanks for the suggestions and the sharing of your experience
The thing that I have avoided my entire life is the one thing that has changed everything for me around panic and anxiety. And like most things, I have to become desperate in order to entertain the idea of change, so I became desperate, and I started doing inner child soothing. At first I could not come up with the words myself, so I did a google search "encouraging things to tell kids" or something like that. I got a list of 100 sentences and I would read them to myself every morning, not the whole list just a couple, maybe 5. Then I started to steal sentences I heard form others. And now, I can use my own words.
My biggest fear has been flying. I do it becuase my desire to be somewhere new is just slightly greater than my fear, but I am in total panic the entire time. This last flight from NYC to Milan was the first time I tried the inner child soothing thing I'd been doing. The panic started to rise, and I told myself the facts, "airplane travel is the safest form of transportaiton. That turbulance is just bumps in the road which are totally ok and normal." My anxiety lessened. I would repeat that every time my anxiety would start to rise. I remained calm, so calm, that for the first time in my life I was able to sleep on the plane. I've taken MANY flights back and forth between Europe and NYC and I have never ever been anything but in total panic the entire flight. It is a miracle, a total miracle that I never though would ever come true for me. I think .... I may be ... becoming free of panic attacks and anxiety.
Thank you for sharing this. My daughters have panic attacks and I used to. My heart goes out to you, as it goes out to my daughters. I know how it feels. But there is an end to this tunnel. First you learn to manage it, then you learn to conquer it, then you forget it. Until your daughters grow up to face it. Love, Susie
I read this within an hour of staving off my own panic attack tonight. What often helps me the most is having someone who understands. My partner gets it. He sometimes struggles with his own. And we work together to help ground each other when it seems our bodies are ready to flee their own skin.
I know not everyone has a partner they can count on. I know not everyone even wants one. And all of that is completely valid. I've often heard that we can't do life alone, and so I do think finding the courage to create a strong and understanding support system is one of the best things we can do for ourselves and our mental and emotional health. Whether that support system is in a partner, a family, a friend, or some combination thereof. 💖
My queen. My king. My Kwing. For ever.
Hello Andrea and everyone else in this community! I am a new member of Things That Don’t Suck and am so happy to be here.
Panic attacks have been a part of my life for almost 30 years…and my son has also experienced them as young as 10….when we are having them, something that often helps is pressing down on one nostril and breathing in through the other, then release the breathe through the other nostril and alternate sides. For my son, he immediately seeks me out when he is having one, and me holding him or being nearby will often calm his attacks.
My sister experienced her first panic attack while talking on the phone with me about 5 years ago, and abruptly hung up on me and called an ambulance because she thought she was dying. I wish I had known at the time what was happening to her body so perhaps I could have helped and spared her a huge ambulance bill.
Sending love and hugs out to you all!
As a person who isn’t diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, feeling the fear is definitely not what my body wants to do either! But I too find that allowing my body to sink into it helps me actually move through it.
“Let’s hyperventilate like it’s 1999.” I will keep this forever. Thank you, for flipping my eternal, internal script (at least at this minute) from weakness to warrior.
Much love to you.