I wake up early anticipating a great day talking to god as I do every morning asking for guidance and support and tell myself I will reward myself with something that I have been experimenting with little success over the last couple of years because of its detrimental side affects to me that I don’t want to accept and hope they will not be the same every time.
I tell myself I’m proud of you for avoiding temptation with coffee the last while and reward myself with a 12oz Americano. As like always the first ten minutes an explosion of endorphins and serotonin are released in my brain leaving me with an incredible sense of pleasure looking around me with a smile on my face but in the back of my mind I am anticipating the negative consequences to follow in a sick and self masochistic behavior.
About 20 minutes after the coffee has been ingested and the caffeine has entered my blood stream and the amygdala begins firing and releasing adrenalin through the body. First sign of this is tension in my abdomen and my breathing because very shallow and forced for me to inhale a full breath. When I recognize that my mind says, “here is comes” and I try to force myself to a deep breathing pattern to attempt to avoid an even larger flush of adrenalin from my brain because one of my basic functions is thought to be in danger and the body wants to stay alive by nature and alertness comes from adrenalin. This would be great when in a seriously dangerous situation where you are being chased by a man eating beast, or being held up at gun point but for myself like many other suffers of panic attacks it creates a devastating situation which leaves the individual with the most fear ever imagined. Some have said that being held up at gun point would be a walk in a park compared to the fear experienced from a panic attack, I would absolutely agree with this 110%. My body and mind has learned to react differently to the fight or flight response and instead is frozen with fearing and cascading spiraling negative thoughts.
Once you are in the complete drop off and loss of basically every rational thought when the panic takes over my mind is filled with thoughts such as, I’m going crazy, I’m going to die, I’m going to pass out, a feeling of complete helplessness that no one seems to be able to comfort you and protect you from. The experts recommend at this point focus on square breathing to adjust your internal rhythm and by regulating the oxygen flow it tells the brain “the body is alright”, this is an incredibly difficult task to dive into when the sufferer is at the height of the panic attack, like myself this morning.
Convinced of eminent death that is coming for me or at least passing out my head tells me I need to escape and usually that results in a quick trip to the emergency when a temporary sense of relief eases a lot of the dramatic and overpowering spiraling thoughts that have poisoned my mind and created more and more reason to freak out than I ever needed to experience to begin with. But, today I wanted something different. Like many times while in the midst of a panic attack I have asked whoever is out there, God, I believe, to take my life because the pain is so overwhelming and scary that I cant take it. I got down on my knees and began praying for guidance and help and support, I began to ask for strength to get through this experience knowing that I would use my experience to help benefits and bring awareness into the suffering that millions of people experience far too regularly.
Slowly positive thoughts began to come of changing my old behaviors and negative mindset and letting go of my old states of reaction when I’m flooded with anxiety which gave me just that extra ability to open up my mouth and breathe in what I feel could very well be my last breaths before I faint or die. Rational thought is so completely off the logical radar at this point the last thing I need to hear is to just calm down, it’s the same as telling a hemophiliac to just stop bleeding when they are cut, next to impossible. I calm for what seems to be a while, but in reality is a couple minutes and I congratulate myself for what seems a huge victory. A solid victory over the incapacitating experience and begin to sit and breathe deeply and thank God for this temporary relief.
I feel that I am in the clear but neglect the panic cycle is still in effect and takes hours to regulate itself again back to normal levels and ten minutes later I find myself in a place of lack of breath and back on my knees praying for strength or what I feel should be my next move is to call 911 or get into my car and drive ten minutes away to the hospital. I am overwhelmed with fear and helplessness from what I thought I would be in the clear from and I fell tears start to build in my eyes out of complete terror and I reach for what I have only know to help calm me a warm bath and a clonazepam .25mg and sit in the tub trying to focus all my attention on the water or something positive in my life to give me that temporary distraction from my fear based thinking. Twenty minutes has passed and I’m at a place where I can sit and write these words down with only slightly less fear and a growing sense of calm.
Although at this point in my knowledge of panic attacks they arise from habitual trained thinking and believe there is a way out, but repetition of these positive thoughts and affirmations during a panic attacks leaves people with much doubt because the reward of the work isn’t immediate. But I can say I helped me and brought some comfort and I will continue to try and support myself to break this cycle without the use of any Benzodiazepines, but this journey is as much of a process as it was for me to get to a place where my central nervous system broke and panic attacks began. Mild glimpses of hope through the use of affirmations and self-talk should be used more frequently to guide individuals to their own safe ground instead away from the negative internal dialogue that produces real physical responses in the body. I have yet to master this but do seem the benefit and hope to progress further with more habitual practice. At this point I’m completely willing to try absolutely anything non-pharmaceutical.
For any other sufferers out there I can honestly say no matter how much education I have and knowledge of panic attacks it becomes completely useless to me in the middle of one, and forcing a change in thought patterns is really the only way out, but be gentle on yourself like I was this morning, and don’t look to the experience as yourself being inferior or weak, but continue to challenge yourself in the terror of the moment to slightly adjust your thought patterns.
I have held back from taking any sedative to help in the mending process but now accept I have to find a solution that is gentle and beneficial to my growth of getting out of the destructive internal cycle I would never wish anyone in the world to experience, even my worst enemy. Because suffers generally have ties to low self worth and repetitive habitual negative self talk it makes the problem that much more difficult to tackle, but the hard work does avail some progress, I strongly encourage you to practice this regardless if you see merit to it or not. I have been struggling for four years with panic attacks and can tell you it definitely helps to ease the pain and get me back to a safer ground more easily.