Panic Attacks and Coping?

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Panic Attacks and Coping?

Postby Princess_Exodia » September 18th, 2014, 6:45 am

I'm a long time sufferer of anxiety and with that comes panic attacks (which I'm sure a lot of people here know). Thankfully, they're not as frequent as they used to be. Now, I can usually pinpoint where the source of my anxiety is coming from whereas months ago it was very difficult.

In June, I attended an anime convention, despite my wariness of crowds. I was having a decent time until a stranger wanted to give me a hug. I felt pressured into obliging (which I really shouldn't have) and then came the panic attack. My best friend was there to help me which made it easier for me to calm down, Otherwise, I'm not sure how long I would've been standing there crying :cry:.

My last attack was during work last Saturday. My job got extremely busy and I have to bring in new clients whenever there's down time. My manager was pushing me to give out more fliers and be more assertive which is when I started to panic. It was so bad that even at the end of my shift she kept asking if I was okay because I looked awful. The job is getting easier but it's still a work in progress. I love the position and I know that I can't just quit.

I still find myself struggling to calm myself down whenever something like that happens. I have the habit of making things worse by thinking "you're being unreasonable", "you're going to embarrass yourself", "there's no reason to freak out", etc. I've tried counting down in my head, more to keep myself occupied than anything else. I was wondering if anybody had any better ways to deal with attacks?
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Re: Panic Attacks and Coping?

Postby manuel_moe_g » September 18th, 2014, 9:53 am

Princess_Exodia wrote:I have the habit of making things worse by thinking "you're being unreasonable", "you're going to embarrass yourself", "there's no reason to freak out", etc.

This makes me sad. Please be self-loving in your talk to yourself. The "panic attack" part of yourself needs to be held and comforted like a sobbing child, held by the adult part of yourself.

It is hard. I have practiced speaking in a self-loving way to my inner-child that is my anxiety -- it takes a while to make it a habit.

I like this book:

Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life: The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy; Steven C. Hayes

I am now working with my therapist to just be aware when triggers happen, not to move toward self-blame and self-hatred. Using my imagination, my trigger becomes a red box, and I instantly replace the red box with a green box that represents a realistic and hopeful response - my response is the choice I always have to slowly improve. I am not my old bad habits, I am slowly replacing my bad habits of thought in the red box with the green box of choosing to improve.

Lately I have liked this quote: "Better is the most important step to becoming your best"

Please take care, all the best, we here are cheering for you and for your greatest today and tomorrow.
~~~~~~ -- Obsequious Thumbtack Headdress
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Re: Panic Attacks and Coping?

Postby Syuni » September 18th, 2014, 7:38 pm

I know that feeling so well. Just a few minutes ago I was overcome by anxiety and panicked over something silly. Some days I think I can overcome it, and other days like today I'm reminded that it will never leave me. I hate that you had to go through that at an anime convention. I have alway wanted to go to one, or a comic con, but I can't even handle the crowd at Walmart. I'm so afraid I'll live my life never doing anything like that. I can so relate to your panic after a stranger hugged you. I'm sorry you had to go through that.

I get those same thoughts too. What I'm thinking is not rational, why am I doing this? I'm trying to work at it, and advice like manuel_moe_g's has helped. Also having supportive friends can help a lot, it's awesome you had a caring friend help you during that time.

I don't know too much advice to give, but know you're not alone and things can improve even with bad days.
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Re: Panic Attacks and Coping?

Postby Princess_Exodia » September 19th, 2014, 4:47 am

A huge thanks to both of you!

manuel_moe_g, I'm going to try your approach as it is something I really need to work on. Staying positive would help me tremendously. I might look into getting some books for myself. I can't wait until things in my life start to settle down, I really need to find myself a new therapist. I was feeling much better when I had weekly sessions. My family tries their hardest to be supportive but they really just don't understand. To them, it's a matter of "getting over it" when, in reality, it's more about learning to deal with it. I'll never "get over" my anxiety or even my depression but I can learn to live with them so I can function on a daily basis. Right now, it's the anxiety I really need to focus on. Thanks again!
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Re: Panic Attacks and Coping?

Postby anymomentinthewoods » September 19th, 2014, 6:02 am

I've also had panic attacks and some anxiety at anime conventions so I can kind of speak to that specifically, Princess_Exodia. The two panic attacks were when I was younger: the first when I was ambushed while wearing a costume and the second when a friend forced me to wear something I didn't want to in a huge crowd of people. My anxiety manifests in my stomach a lot of the time so I will get nauseous or sick sometimes when dealing with some of the crowds or when I'm too excited. The best thing that helped with that was taking some time away from the convention to decompress. Spend some time in the hotel alone or walking around the area where the convention is. Just taking some time to be mindful and find yourself again can be good. Another good thing is to try your hardest to sleep and eat properly during the convention. It's so easy to get into the fun of things and forget to properly take care of yourself. Trust me, I know. I don't know if that helps directly with the panic attacks but I noticed that when I'm feeling good and not tired, it's easier to relax and to tell when attacks are coming.

I also think you should listen to this week's episode of the podcast. There's some professional advice on panic attacks that Paul reads that might be helpful.
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Re: Panic Attacks and Coping?

Postby IdentityPoltergeist » September 22nd, 2014, 5:14 am

My general and social anxiety that started at about age 12 developed into a panic disorder that my parents often dismissed as "just in my head" and not something worth getting help for so I was left dealing with daily panic attacked which often occurred for absolutely no reason at all. Perhaps some loose connection to a triggering moment, but often nothing specific. The first year or two, I was very concerned and immobilized. Eventually, I found unhealthy coping methods I won't go into as I don't want anyone trying them. When I decided to change that, I was left with two choices: confront my fears or Ride it out and pretend it isn't happening.

Confronting my fears is only a newly-acted on strategy. I am terrified of being on the phone, but at my job I was forced into taking a lot of incoming phone calls and my attacks were constant, to the point that ignoring them was impossible. I started therapy with all the stress of this, which is tough with an anxiety disorder and especially anxiety with the phone calling a therapist, that system is just cruel. She helped me a bit by just being tough with me and encouraging me to take the challenge. So I did. I made a lot of mistakes and suffered a lot but the more exposure I had to the phone, the less they occurred and my confidence grew. There is also a weird high at conquering a debilitating fear.

Avoidance will only increase your anxiety and lead to more avoidance. And cons are great... Except San Diego comic con, don't bother. Any other anime or comic con though, you can get into some panels and meet a lot of interesting people who share your interests. I love cons and I hate crowds and social interaction in general. My recommendation? It's a con, wear a costume and assume another identity. An identity that has more confidence. I find getting into a role helps tremendously! One year I went as the death note (a giant notebook with face completely hidden). It was so empowering!

I'm not perfect. I still hate going to the store, running errands, or taking trips by myself. I rely on others too much. I feel completely incompetent on my own. I still don't like using the phone, but I can force myself to call for pizza now.

Lean on your friends to get you there but when it comes time to face your fear, don't rely heavily on them. You need to know that you can do this on your own. Beyond that, please have strength and don't feel weakened by this uncontrollable anxiety. I hope this didn't come across as "suck it up and get over it" because that is the worst advice and dismisses your legitimate problem. But don't dwell on it, challenge it. You may still have an attack but surviving it will give you yhe confidence to keep trying. Be strong!
"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live." -- Oscar Wilde
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Re: Panic Attacks and Coping?

Postby Princess_Exodia » September 25th, 2014, 6:53 pm

Update: my manager has basically threatened to fire me if I don't sell more products so I'm looking for a new position. I know that I do my job the way that I was trained and I've never had this happen to me before. I've worked before and have always been told I'm polite and efficient in each task that I complete. I believe this wasn't the right choice for me but I was desperate for money and didn't have any other option. Surprisingly, I didn't have an attack during work when this was going on. I'm managing pretty okay, it's a daily process. I haven't quit and I don't want to unless it gets to the point where I feel like I'm not in a great environment. I didn't want to leave until I secured a new position somewhere better suited for me.

I'm also looking into going back to college. I'm going to apply for the Fall of next year as a Graphic Design major. Again, I'm managing not to feel anxious about all of it. Change is what usually does it for me but I want to get back on the path that I saw for myself. My mental illness is what stopped me originally and I refuse to let that stop me from trying again.
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Re: Panic Attacks and Coping?

Postby littlem » September 25th, 2014, 9:43 pm

Sorry to hear about your job; sometimes you can work hard but it's not about you, but the boss or the company. I'm sure you'll find something better. Definitely continue to reach for your goals--good luck with college! I'm sure you'll be successful :)

Back to your original question re: panic attacks:

First, try to banish those negative thoughts! I try to think positive things like "you'll be fine," "you can do this!" or "you are okay, you have support here," etc. Find something positive that works for you.

I no longer suffer from panic attacks, but when I did I found it helped to focus on something tangible like my breathing, a sound, a touch, etc. It helped plant me in the "now" and reality instead of the spiralling panic thoughts in my head. The more I concentrated on my panic the worse it tended to get.

I agree with IdentityPoltergeist that confronting your fears in slow, managed steps is key to overcoming anxiety. It's not about jumping in head first, but by taking small steps out of your comfort zone and continuing to have success that your comfort level will slowly grow. For an example from my own experience: I have anxiety about using the phone, so at the beginning I would call somewhere easy like ordering pizza, and use pre-planned script or notes to help me through the conversation. I highly recommend working with a therapist who specializes in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT helped me more than anything with my anxiety. Even though I still sometimes feel anxious when I need to talk to people, use the phone, etc. I am not longer paralyzed and can find ways to do most things thanks to the strategies I learned through CBT.
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Re: Panic Attacks and Coping?

Postby Brooke » October 10th, 2014, 7:12 am

Panic attacks suck...I have the kind that is not so "threatening" like feeling like I'm going to die or anything, but I get panicky when I feel like I have to go to places alone. I feel like I'm going to faint and indeed I get nauseous and have to sit at a quiet place (finding one is the hard part because you are already feeling wobbly and sick). I just don't like other people to see me. Even though I dress nice because of my pride, I don't want other people's eyes on me...I know, screwed up. Especially in tight places like the subway. I hate the subway, but in a large city, you've got to get used to them because that's the main transportation. I just don't like people getting too close in my personal space. With my car, I can blast my favorite music, stop somewhere and recline my seat, take my anti-anxiety without people watching me, etc. I just feel like I'm in a safe bubble. With anxiety, we fear things that aren't fearful. Nothing has the power to make us feel powerless in theory, but we all suffer. For me, I try to tell myself that nothing terrible is going to happen to me when I'm out. It doesn't always work, so I take a pill if I feel "it" coming on. I know Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very powerful with anxiety, so when I have the courage to step outside, I try to do the best I can. It sucks in the winter because it's cold and dark.
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