March 4th, 2015
Almost on the same level, panic attacks are next to depressions the most ignored disease. According to studies, 25 % of all people are diagnosed with this illness or with this symptom, however, the estimated number of unreported cases is probably a lot higher.
The bad news first: There is no real cure.
The good news: There is a way to learn to live with it.
It seems to be like alcoholism. There is no real cure for this disease. As soon as you experienced it, your body has it on its agenda and is able to recall it. Of course, there are a lot of pills that are able to suppress the symptoms, but a lot of them can be addictive at once.
I know that most would go very very far to not have to experience the fear of dying, the breathlessness, the panic to not being able to control one’s body, the rapid heartbeat and the helplessness again. I know the feeling of not being able to ever live a normal life again. Being somehow handicapped and needing a lot of power, energy and self discipline to manage day to day activities. I don’t know how often I said ‘I cannot live with that!’
You can! And you will!
A lot of people dismiss this disease with naming it stage fright, calling people affected eccentric, fragile and unable to cope with life. Far from it! If not co-existing symptom of another illness, panic attacks are a physical reaction of external circumstances or influences. There are a lot of them. It can be high-level stress that couldn’t be released, fears, problems one cannot cope with, an accident and a lot more.
Usually the first panic attack happens out of the blue. Many people report that the situation they first experienced it, was not frightening at all. Quite often it was something they did every day or at least something they got used to over a long time period. And suddenly … BANG! They felt like dying. The heart rate escalated to over 200. Even heavily breathing it seemed like they are not getting enough air into their lungs. The whole body starts feeling weak, legs seemed to turn into jelly. Often accompanied by a weird feeling in the stomach and kind of a tunnel vision. Those conditions can stay for seconds, minutes or hours.
But as quick as it came it is over again and a feeling of having fought a body weakened illness stays for hours or days.
The most understandable reaction to this is to avoid the situation that has caused it. Sometimes that works, but for day to day activities it does not.
When stress, fears, unsolved problems or even grief is one of the triggers of panic attacks avoiding the situation, people attached to the situation and also avoiding places where it happened is the basic reaction. At first it seems that it helps and that the problem is solved, but it is not. Besides, that not all situations and people can be avoided. What happens here as a result is fear of fear. Those affected fear that a panic attack is going to happen again and they fear literally the fear.
Whenever it comes to the topic of treatment everything is suggested from psychotherapy to sedatives. Now for all who tried a psychotherapy that didn’t help and who want to avoid getting addicted, here is the good news: the best to deal with this is to slowly cope with it and learn to live with it.
First of all, it is okay to avoid situation, people and places that are attached to the first appearance of your panic attacks. For a short time! But there are two things, you really should do in the beginning of your way on learning to live with panic attacks.
1. Find out the daytime and place, you feel most comfortable and strong and where over a period of time nothing happened, not even the tiniest cause of discomfort. From now on this is your comfort zone! You can be there whenever you want it or need it!
2. Talk with people who suffer the same. As soon as you talk to people openly about it and start your search, you will find out that a lot more people suffer or suffered from the same, you ever had imagined. This prevents the feeling of being alone with your panic attacks.
As soon as you start feeling a bit better, no matter if it takes weeks, months or years, start being very realistic and blunt.
You don’t owe anything to anybody, but yourself!
You and only you decide what to do and what not!
For example, if there is a situation you are not feeling well in or if you are in company of people, you cannot stand (at the moment) … LEAVE! Go out of this situation. You have the right to do so because YOU decide what to do when. You do not have to account to others why you are doing this and that and this not. This is the most important thing to learn.
Don’t let others push you, blame you or make you feel guilty. With the panic attacks your body reacted to something or someone and made it very clear that there might be something wrong. Whatever or whoever this is that is not important now. Now is only important that you listen and do what its best for you!
I know that there are masses now raising their voices and screaming something about obligations yadda yadda. Be serious people! The only obligation you have is to stay healthy, everything else is peanuts and narrow-minded thinking. No? Look … the job is at stake because you can’t stand being in the company anymore and experiencing one panic attack after the other? Well, probably the overload stress has caused the attacks and it is best to either work on being less stressed at work or searching for another job, right? Don’t tell me that this is not possible!
Okay, not convinced? Let’s take it to the upper ten thousand where the big money rules. Imagine a super star. Demands from people all around, agents, concert agency, label, fans and more. No time to relax, no time to even think something through. A big concert tour. World wide. And then suddenly right before a gig … panic! Now, what is the worst that happens if this super star is calling off the show? Fans being sad? Well, they will understand for sure. Manager or agent having a mental break down? Well, they will get over it. The worst here that is going to happen probably is a penalty for breach of contract. Usually an astronomically high one, so what? It is just money. No, NO, NO! It is JUST money! Everybody needs money and even more everybody wants as much money as he can get, but I can tell you one thing from own experience: Money is just money and it does nothing else than feeding you or making a luxury life possible. Money can’t buy you health, love, a family and money can’t bring back dead. You can’t cuddle with money (I hope you don’t) and it can’t give you happiness. You think people below the poverty line cannot exist? RETHINK!
With only those three steps you are on the right way to heal yourself. It won’t happen today or tomorrow, but maybe the day after tomorrow. Slowly, but steadily you will grow stronger, be more yourself and stand up for yourself. Make your very own decisions and stick to them. It is a process and a long way, but at the end there is a life waiting for you. A life where you can say ‘I suffered panic attacks, but I learned to live with them. They got less intensive and severe, became rarer and finally they were gone.’
You are not alone! At least there is one person who knows what you’re going through and who cares. ♥