Just recently it was a mental health day, and I am so glad that today’s society is talking about it loudly. That it isn’t something you should be a shamed of and suffer in solitude or feel isolated. Because if not yourself, then there must be someone who you know who is affected by it. And it isn’t just about the extreme cases, we are living in a time where depressions, anxiety and panic attacks are common things.
Just recently I had my last panic attack. It doesn’t happen so regularly anymore but when it did, I just felt an urge to write about it and share it! I think it is important to bring awareness about mental health and normalise it just as we look at the physical health.
Panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming fear and anxiety. Usually it lasts from 10 to 30 minutes but it varies for everyone and can be even longer. There are different symptoms but at the moment of the panic attack, you feel like your fear is bursting out of control, where physically it’s usually harmless. Panic attack is a response of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) which comes under automatic nervous system. It functions to regulate the body’s unconscious actions and SNS’s primary process is to stimulate the body’s fight-or-flight response.
And few years ago, in my young adulthood, I would acknowledge that, I too, have a mental health issue. First I realised that I would get panic attacks on regular basis and my current situation in life then, was causing me stress that led me into a form of depression. Also, at that time, I was living with someone in my family who has schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Although, it can be very hard, challenging and even emotionally draining at times, I did learn and understand about mental health and people who deal with it every single day, so much better! That now I can recognise it, I know how to deal with it and I can be a more supportive person!
Since I started working with myself through yoga and meditation, and changed my lifestyle including my diet, I learnt how to deal with my panic attacks! At first, I wouldn’t even know what was happening to me. I probably had my first panic attack when I was about 11 years old. Since that, it happened maybe few more times until when I was about 18 years old when it started happening much more often!
It would happen in different situations and most would involve being in unfamiliar environments where I would feel like I don’t have the control over the situation…And this condition is called agoraphobia. Also if I am in a place where I feel claustrophobic, like I won’t be able to escape. If I am feeling overly tired or dehydrated, it also increase the chance for it to happen. Too many people or I generally don’t feel in physically safe place…these are my triggers! Sometimes I can recognise what could make it happen but sometimes it’s just comes unexpected! For each person, it is different! It is different symptoms and different situations. Personally, I can feel my heart beat increasing, my fingers start to swallow and feel numb. I feel hot and sweaty. There is shortness of breath and it becomes shallow. I feel like I don’t have enough air and there is a sensation of choking. I start to feel like I want to throw up, which triggers also my phobia of vomiting. I need to get out from wherever I am. There is panic in my mind, like a power cut to my brain. My body becomes tense… there are lots of fears..it feels horrible and exhausting!
But I also have learned how to deal with it when it starts happening! It is important to recognise it and be aware of it! To acknowledge that it is mainly happening only in your mind! Not always it works 100% but it helps. And the key is breath! In yoga I have learnt pranayama, and the control of the breath. In that moment, I tell myself that I am in a safe space no matter what and if I can, I leave the place and change the environment, fresh open air is always the best! If can’t leave, I really start focusing on my breathing. Deepening and counting each breath. I try and not let my mind take over the control. And I keep telling myself that it is only happening in my mind and that it is going to pass and I am completely fine!
This can cause more anxiety and fear of even doing things you enjoy because you might have experienced a panic attack in that particular place or doing a certain things before. But it is not the case, because anything really can cause it to happen! And for me, I alway feel that people might look at me, don’t understand and judge me..and I feel socially embarrassed.
But all together, there are things you can do to help with healing yourself. I have never been to a doctor or taken any mediation for it nor I am an expert about it! And I am not saying it is the right thing for everyone! But you should definitely speak about it with someone you trust! It can be a family member, a friend or health professional. Allow yourself to express your feelings! In my own personal experience, I go with my own intuition, trusting my inner wisdom. And I truly believe that there are natural ways to help yourself. There isn’t a magical pill that will solve all the problems but there are lots of alternative ways, we just have to work with ourselves! I really hope that there is a growing awareness and we can talk about it more openly and without feeling of being alone in it! There is lots of strength in being vulnerable and open!
Thank you 🙏🏼