Anxiety, Panic, PTSD

It is where your world is shaking.

The world turns into words, and each letter falls. As the world shakes, each word dissolve into letters, something separate and other, and each begins to fall as you try to read. The letter disappear–one by one, morphing into a nothingness, a blank space. The panic and anxiety is unfurling in you–rising like a wave and crashing down just as hard. You see, the panic is a puzzle, you can solve if you could just read the sentence. But, the world is shaking and the letters are breaking off.

Around you, the world collapses; changing a shadow of a thought into something something bad–something that is dragged from your deepest fears and worst nightmares. You are terrified. Your heart is pounding. Awful things are happening right now-RIGHT BESIDE YOU, right behind your door, or in the shadows that converge in the hallway. You have to do something–but you know nothing’s there. It has to stop, but it doesn’t, and you are stripped down to your core, utterly vulnerable and powerless. 

This “panic” / “anxiety” becomes so much more than any one identifiable feeling. Fear and vulnerability drown you from the inside out, and then horror becomes a ticking time bomb in your head, urgency comes as a thunderous buzzing in your mind, and near-blinding panic suffocates you.

Logic tells you, you are breathing, but you’re not breathing. Your chest is tight and getting tighter–your lungs are hollow and contracting, you can see your heart pounding in your chest, and each second keeps passing, and you’re still not breathing.

Everything, it’s pressing down on you.

You’re drowning.

All you needed was to read that simple sentence but now the panic’s won. And, you drown as you sink leagues beneath the sea.

The entire world is pressure. It’s all there ever is and all there ever will be. You may have been a immovable, sturdy truck but the pressure has reduced you to the size of a Rubix Cube. Still though, there is shaking still, and you don’t know how much more you can take before you deconstruct all together, liquesce, evaporate, become nothing.

But.

2+2=4.

 

You remember this.

2+2=4

It will always equal four.

You know your name.

You can spell your name.

You love reading.

And 2+2=4.

It will always equal four.

2+2 will always =4

You’re breathing.

You’re breathing and the world is steadying.

And, you are okay.

…………………………………………………………………………………………….

Long story, short.

I just went through something similiar to this again-a really bad anxiety attack that basically came out of nowhere. I’ve been dealing with these things for a loooong time.

I know anxiety, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, and flashbacks, very well. But I’ll mostly be talking about panic and anxiety attacks today.

 

Coping

One HUGE thing that’s become invaluable to me when panic and anxiety are quaking through my world, shattering words, are numbers, facts and repetition.

Numbers:

  • 2+2=4

Facts:

  • I am Kay.
  • I am a writer
  • 2+2=4
  • It will always equal four.

And Repetition:

  • 2+2=4 and it will always equal four.
  • 2+2=4 and it will always equal four.
  • 2+2=4 and it will always equals four.
  • 2+2=4 and it will always equal four.

 

Repeating, Numbers and Facts or simply Good Ol’ Repetition, are some of the best tricks I use. They enable me to bring something resembling control and order back into my unsteady and shattering world.

These tricks can help bring you back to reality. They tie you to something, even if it is only a ghost of a thought that you can grab ahold of, it will anchor you. In the middle of a panic or anxiety attack, if you can manage to think and focus, on one thing you are, one thing you know, or even one thing, you can follow that wisp of a string back down to the real world–the place where the world isn’t shaking. If you can follow these specific-independant-thoughts you’ll be in more control and will eventually feel safer.

Something that is so very important to do after an attack, like the one that inspired this post, is to try to understand where it comes from and why it happened. It isn’t easy. But it’s worth a try. What sets off the first initial reaction? How did it begin? I used to see no reason for these panic attacks, anxiety attacks, and flashbacks that happen to me (and there was a point where these things were running my life). But, time has passed since then and I’ve learned a lot. Heck, today alone has taught me more about these coping strategies I use. Thinking outside the box can help you to figure out why it happened. Sometimes, the “why” is clear. But sometimes, it isn’t. Because, it doesn’t make sense to feel like your family is in mortal danger while they are simply lying on their beds, in their rooms, in a locked house.

Every fire has a spark. And every attack has a trigger.

What do you think started this?

What was happening before the panic attack?

When did the physical symptoms start?

What were the instigators?

These are examples of questions you can train yourself to explore. By thinking on, and answering them, you may end up understanding the why behind it, and that is no small feat.

Example:

Why did this happen today?

  • It started when I heard this song and then things kept happening and it all reminded me of this bad person
  • I ran into someone awful from the past today and it brought back very strong, very bad memories of things that happened back then.
  • There was shouting from my neighbor’s house and in the blink of an eye I was outside my screaming parents bedroom, crying out to be let in, banging on the door, needing to get in. I shrank to the size of a football-I was weak and powerless to stop the screaming. He could and would do whatever he wanted. I had no power to stop it. Or stop the violence and verbal assault that was directed to her. And, I was just as hopeless at protecting the innocent–those whose eyes were supposed to stay dry.

 

My Point

The most mundane encounter, the silliest object, the random person, the shouting neighbors, can be, or be connected to a whole world of hell for some people. I am one of those some people. It used to rule my life. To the point where I couldn’t leave my house. And I believe it is important for anyone who deals with this stuff have as much knowledge, and as many coping skills, as possible.

A huge step in learning to deal with panic and anxiety attacks is to first, accept them, and realize they may be in control right now, but they won’t be forever. You can learn to deal and control them better; you can learn to cope with them better. They may never go away, but they don’t have run your life for you. They do not have to be in charge. Knowing what sparks them is a huge step in getting some control back. Learning what you can do to help yourself when you are in that situation is the most important gift you can give yourself.

When you work at coping and controlling what’s going on inside of you you take back some of that control the panic and anxiety strip you of. These rudimentary tricks are ones that I value most. They allow you to help yourself when you are in the worst sort of state. They help you get down from those heightened states of ultra-alert awareness.

 

It should also be worth mentioning that every panic attack, all anxiety-anxiety attacks included, are all different. What works for me may not work for you. Also noteworthy is, the panic attacks and anxiety attacks I experience are severe and intense. Not all panic attacks look the same. Not all anxiety does either. And it’s just worth it to mention that no suffering is unimportant.

Well, my fingers are aching, they’ve dislocated twice throughout writing this post, and my wrist is also flaring up. So, this is me, signing off at this obscene hour of night, hoping tomorrow will bring a really, really great day. I could really use one.

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