Panic Attacks

I don’t really cry over my brothers suicide, I think out of everyone I have cried the least. I find my emotion too overbearing to exert , my heartache to burning to express and my feelings too out of control to publicaly emit.

When I do cry, I do so alone. With no one around so I can bask in my own pain. On one end of the spectrum maybe a couple of tears might fall or on the other end I could sit for an hour waiting with my head in my hands. Sometimes when others cry over him, I laugh…. it’s a trait I can’t control, because I can’t cry, I feel as though I could explode, so the only other emtion that can come out is a laugh.

A smiling laugh with dead eyes

One thing which has dramatically changed my life is the sudden onset of panic attacks in my everyday life. They can happen anywhere and at any time, throughout the last 9 months I have learned, not how to stop a panic attack, but to accept them and deal with them in the best manner possible.

First, lets go back to the basics.

Step One: Understand What Is Happening. 

What is a Panic Attack? 

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms: Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate. Sweating. Trembling or shaking. Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering.

For me, my heart starts racing and the room begins to close in around me and I can no longer grasp a breath.

Step Two: Awareness 

The first attack will catch you by surprise. You will be feeling unsure what is happening, you could even begin to think you are having a heart attack. After the second or third, the onset starts to become familiar, become aware that you are having a panic attack and accept that it is about to start but always remember: This will end and the feeling is only temporary.

Step Three: Find The Cause

I started to write in my diary each time I had a panic attack, the super organiser in me actually jotted them on a graph to see the overall peaks of super attacks as I call them. The results are shocking, I ranged them from 1 – 10 depending on the severtity of the attack. In my diary I also recorded what I was thinking about several seconds before the panic attack or what I was talking about when it started. This enabled me to narrow down the source of the panic, which in turn allowed me to deal with the actual problems which dramatically decreased the amount of panic attacks I have.

I highlighted the cause of my panic attacks which was the fear of letting my brother down with the work I am doing for the Zachary Geddis Break the Silence Trust and also a certain image surrounding this death that I was unable to deal with personally.

I accepted this cause and dealt with them head on and reassure myself everyday that Zachary would be proud of me and that I am just to keep going for him.

My new root cause however, is the mentality and structure of my families current emotional and psychological situation. I have yet to figure out how to personaly deal with this.

Step Four: Breathe and Wait

Count, 1 – 2 – 3 … and wait out the panic attack. My longest was 6 minutes, it happened in my work place and it was then that I decided I was going to leave my job because I was left alone with my own thoughts a little too much. The panic attack will end, but if you don’t count, breathe and wait, the dangers of passing out and hitting your head causing further damage increases tenfold.

Step Five: Think Positive Thoughts 

What is positive thoughts? Thinking of your family? Honestly, that thought didn’t work for me, honestly it made it worse because my family are connected to the root cause of the panic attacks, so I found thinking of them usually made me worse. (Sorry Mummy)

Instead, I thought of Moses, my dog who has helped me so much through my grieving process as he is so oblivious to my pain I can only smile when thinking of him and his wrinkly skin. I teach Karate as I have stated before, and sometimes I would even think of the children I teach in a special community project and their funny attributes they each have that make me laugh every session.

These steps are only through my personal experience, but I hope through sharing my panic attack journey I can help one other person control what they feel is uncontrolable.