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Panic Disorders Message Board

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Hi 'Girl,

I read your initial post on here, remembering a time when I felt that out of control. It wasn't so much the symptoms of panic attacks themselves, but the out of control fear and scary racing thoughts that came with them - IMGOINGTODIE, IWONTBEABLETOSURVIVETHIS....

The most revealing sentence (to me) that you wrote was...."and I wasn't even anxious". I don't know how many times I would say the exact same thing. But the truth is sweetie, you probably were very revved up from everything that you were experiencing (your body sensations), and although you were trying to maintain some calm on the outside because you were at work, you were probably in a complete knot on the inside.

The body is such an amazing work of art! It's hard to take pleasure in it when it "attacks" you all the time, I know. Pretty soon, you become scared of yourself. You wonder if you're breathing right, or if your brain's okay, or if your legs will work. Things that used to be simple joys are now nightmares. Will all this going on, of course it's normal to not feel like yourself.

The thing is, you ARE the same person you have always been, only now you're dealing with anxiety, and you're probably so overwhelmed with trying to cope with that, that this is all you focus on. It's amazing how things change when dealing with panic. All of a sudden our thoughts and actions revolve around our panic/anxiety issues - we base our days and nights, and everything in between on how we feel or how me might feel or what we need to avoid or not do to make ourselves feel better and "survive".

ACCEPT. We can't run away from ourselves though, so the first step I have found in dealing with panic/anxiety is to accept that your symptoms are just that. It's your body's way of throwing tantrums. It's so used to being scared and being kept in check, that anything you do outside of your comfort zone is going to give you anxiety. And like a child, your body will continue to "act out" until it gets used to the idea that YOU are in charge. And it may take a little whilw to start doing the things you CAN do, without your body reacting so strongly.

BE OBJECTIVE. When you are this overwhelmed (and you are), your body is very sensitive to the slightest scary thought or sensation. So, you may not even be aware of making yourself anxious with a passing "what if" thought. Or, you may feel a flutter and since you are so used to being so scared, you may think that flutter is an indication of something really wrong, and that can start you off.

It appears as though you received a clean bill of health! That's great. It sounds like you are a healthy person who has anxiety attacks. What I started doing was every time I would feel a bodily sensation, instead of immediately going into panic mode (which would happen in a mili-second for me, ha ha), I would sit back and say, "well, there's that flutter again". And then I gave myself comfortable options. About that flutter, I could: a) flip out, which only upset me more, and when I was exhausted, the flutter may or may not still be there, but I was a mess. b) Call my doctor or tell someone if my symptoms got worse; I knew there was always medical attention available if I needed it and someone would help me if it got to that point. Or, c) Wait it out and see what was really happening, not what I was imagining. After some practice, I always chose C. So it helps to look at your symptoms objectively rather than emotionally. Now my first reaction to something scary about my body is "well, I'll just wait and see what happens here".

CHANGE YOUR REACTION. I wouldn't tell you to stop worrying. Everyone worries, some more than others. But sometimes it's more how you react to things and feelings that can make a difference. If every time your vision goes blurry you are thinking "brain tumor", well, that kind of reaction needs a little work! I usually use the phrase, "well isn't that interesting". This way I am acknowledging my symptoms or sensations (ignoring them won't work), but doing it in a calmer manner. Believe it or not, you have the ability calm yourself, even if you think you are too scared or out of control to do so. It just takes time, practice, and a familiarity with your panic symptoms and triggers.

CHALLENGE YOURSELF. If you start to face your panic and anxiety more, you will see it doesn't encompass all of you. You will also see that you are able to continue to make good choices, offer support to others, and be productive. So, when you are in the throws of a wild panic attack, try to make your symptoms worse. You will see not much more comes of it. Or, if you feel yourself escalating in fear, don't run away (like leave work or go home), but instead, acknowledge your symptoms and just let them wash over you. Your body is a well functioning machine! Once you get used to some of the scary symptoms, they won't be such a bother.

You are not weak or stupid or a failure. You are just a person dealing with anxiety.

You may always have issues with panic and anxiety. Sometimes that's just the way it is. But there are coping mechanisms that you can try (and you have to work at it) that will get you back to the point of feeling more like yourself.

You're okay. Now YOU say that. Big hug.

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