what's happening to me? (panic attack/anxiety help)




































So, I was browsing on twitter and a clip popped up on my public timeline that someone had retweeted. A young man had gone to ER with a severe panic attack and the member of staff who was 'tending' to him wouldn't take him seriously, laughed and began to mock him. The member of staff who was an older woman mocked him and said ''There's people in this hospital with real illnesses''. It was a horrible clip to view and the poor young man must have been in such a state, going through a panic attack and then having to deal with someone who is supposed to be a qualified professional not taking your situation seriously.

I live in the UK and we are still not where we should be when it comes to mental health. a lot of people who struggle and fight mental illness everyday do not get the treatment they really need, often put on endless waiting lists for counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and given a packet of tablets to take the edge off. sometimes the tablets can help improve how a person may feel and help calm their body and mind, other times, horrible side effects can come into play which make their anxiety worse and then there is the case when they try to stop the medication and have withdrawal symptoms. They say anti-depressants take 3 weeks to get into your system so to expect a rise in anxiety, to anyone going through anxiety, those three weeks go on for what seems like forever. 

Everyone is different, that's why I don't believe in the 'One size fits all' approach to anxiety. a lot of the time people end up trying to help themselves and do you know what?, this is sometimes the best option unless you've really tried every option under the sun and feel like you can put up with the waiting lists and anti-depressant side effects (like I said before, everyone is different, some will feel some effects, some might not).

I see a lot of people struggle on social media, some people are very vocal and share their mental health problems and some prefer to keep their battles private. I take my hat off to people who share their stories to help others but I also completely understand people who wish not to share their stories.

I just felt that I wanted to pick up my laptop and type out this post, it isn't planned but i just wanted to say to you, first of all, thank you for taking the time to read this post and second of all...if you're going through any kind of mental health battle please know that you are not alone. You'd be surprised to learn how so many people go through this everyday, people you think have 'perfect' lives on instagram, social media etc behind closed doors, away from the cameras and filters could be fighting battles you don't know about and with Social media being such a big part of a lot of peoples lives, it can also cause more anxiety and mental health difficulties.

Like a lot of people I've battled anxiety for most of my life, you wouldn't think it in a public setting because I've always managed to hide it the best I can in front of people. It's made me quite a good actress. I've had all the different types of anti-depressants, the side effects, the horrific withdrawals, the endless waiting on NHS waiting lists, being referred to the wrong type of counsellors, panic attacks...you name it, I've been there. 

I've always tried to keep a handle on it with distractions, threw myself into work, holidays, shopping, always on the go and for a long time that worked. last October I went through a really stressful time with work, no sleep, family problems and it was like I couldn't catch a break. I was stood in the kitchen making a cup of tea one morning and my head was over thinking about all the stress and problems that were going on, I felt a wave of panic, that I couldn't breath and my heart started racing like mad. it was terrifying and it seemed to come out of nowhere. I couldn't tell you exactly how long it went on for (rough guess about 20/30 minutes), it seemed like a really long time.

I was exhausted and completely freaked out after this and was terrified it was going to happen again. the next morning, making a cup of tea, I was worried about it happening again and....heart started racing, felt I couldn't breath etc etc. so after that, it snowballed and my anxiety went haywire. I was startled by the least little noise and if I walked upstairs and felt my heart rate pick up a bit, I'd freak. 

I knew that if I went to the doctors they'd just stick me on anti-depressants with three weeks of me feeling extra anxious (again I stress that this is not the same case with everyone) and put me on an endless waiting list and I just couldn't face it. I wanted to see if I could do this myself and I'll tell you the truth, you can do it, you have to get to a point where you accept that it's not going to happen overnight and there will be set backs (that's life). It will be hard to accept at first that what you're going through is a result of your body and mind being exhausted, playing tricks on you and your mind going ten to the dozen.

Some people who've never been through panic attacks have no idea how terrifying it can be and as someone who has gone through it, it can be very hard to explain. panic attacks can come on like waves out of nowhere and can last from minutes to hours. you're not going to die, nothing is wrong, you're body is reacting to the extra adrenaline due to the anxiety and over thinking. some people don't even realise they are over thinking or doing anything that could be contributing to their anxiety/panic attacks, like, being around certain people, reading negative things on social media etc. all these kinds of things can build up and cause someone to have stress and anxiety.

So, as I said before. it will take time and patience and you'll have days when you think you'll never get better and do the things you would like to do but you will, you will get there and your body will get there when it's ready. 

some of the bodily sensations/things you may be going through may include:

- Over thinking
- Racing heart/faster heart rate
- Dizziness
- Sweaty hands
- Tingles in hands and feet
- Dry mouth
- Bursting/throbbing feeling in throat
- palpitations
- loss of appetite
- Increase in appetite
- nightmares
- paranoia
- Easily startled
- Avoiding certain places (in case of another panic attack)
- Feeling you can't breath
- Tightness/pain in chest
- Jump starts (waking up suddenly during the night with rapid heart beat)

Those are just some of the awful things you can go through with anxiety and panic disorder. The list goes on. obviously, I'm not a doctor and if you're normally a relaxed person with no stress, anxiety and suddenly get chest pains etc then of course see a doctor, if you don't feel right about anything above feel free to see your doctor (you can have your doctor call you at home if you don't feel comfortable to go into the medical centre). I just listed some of the things that myself and friends have gone through but some people go through other things too. The human body can go through extraordinary things when it's under stress.

So how do I deal with anxiety and panic attacks?, well, as I've said before, everyone is different and I'm just sharing my tips (it doesn't hurt to try, right?). The more I did the things below, the less anxiety I felt and a big positive difference in panic attacks coming back. 

My tips:

- Cut out caffeine (sometimes the jittery feelings can trigger a panic attack and palpitations, some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others).

- Drink caffeine-free drinks like Pukka chamomile, vanilla & Manuka honey tea (aim for 3 cups a day, morning, noon and night).

- Don't have really hot baths! (I was like Freddie Mercury with my baths and it would get my heart rate up which would trigger a panic attack)

- Get some lavender in (whether it be a scented candle or pillow spray, lavender is well known for relaxation)

- Look for some self-help books on anxiety, panic attacks and CBT on amazon. They have some good books with activities in to help you to recognise negative thinking.

- If you feel a panic attack come on, try and take a deep breath through your nose and slowly out of your mouth. if it helps, say caaalllm, when you breath out. walk up and down slowly click your fingers and talk about something random, like a a fun holiday you had (doing this distracts your brain and without realising, your heart rate will begin to slow down)

- Another tip is kneeling down and clicking your fingers and talking during the panic attack.

- Some people have suggested a cold bath or putting some ice cubes on your neck to get your heart rate down, I've never tried this but a few people have said it worked for them so I thought I'd include it here.

- Eat properly! Have a small meal every 3/4 hours to keep blood sugar levels balanced (Being hungry can also set off a panic attack)

- Take care of yourself during periods too as hormones are often sky high during PMS and sometimes during your period so that can spark off panic attacks and added anxiety. Make sure you have plenty of chamomile tea for anxiety and cramps and some chocolate.

- Sleep as much as you can! If you have a bad night's sleep then it's important to have a nap either in the morning or afternoon. With an anxious mind and body, any sleep that you can get will help. Some people have to catch up with sleep during the day.

- Foot massages! If you can get someone to do this for you, then great! If not, you can do it yourself. It helps relax you. you can use oils or moisturiser and gently press down and massage your feet.

- If you're really jumpy, avoid horror movies, anything negative as much as possible. try and watch positive funny things, comedy movies to help keep you in a positive frame of mind.

- Keep a diary! This can help you come to terms with accepting what's going on and you can look back if you go through another difficult time in the future and see that you've been through it before and that you can come through it again.

- Don't use Dr Google!! 

- If you're looking for a good forum for anxiety, 'No More Panic' is a good one. 

Just remember 'This too shall pass'. you're going through a bit of a tough time but you'll come through it and hopefully all or some of my tips will help you. If you have any tips that help you please include them in the comments to help others. 

I hope this post helps someone and I hope that one day Mental health is taken more seriously and that more facilities and proper help is available and more research is done.

Much love to ya,

x (A fellow anxiety warrior)