I’ve been a worrier my entire life. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t worry. I’m always thinking, pondering, mind always spinning. To some point that has served me. My imagination and creativity benefits. Everything else does not. I’m often tired, exhausted, and easily irritated by people.
Most people don’t outwardly see that side of me. I do a good job of putting on a mask. But in 2006, my grandfather passed in February and my mother in November. Both deaths were quick and unexpected. The panic attacks started thereafter.
It took me six months to realize my mother died. I was in a complete fog and had no handle on reality. One night, I woke up, sat straight up in the bed and a wail came from the depths of my soul. And from that point on, the panic attacks ensued.
Sometimes they were bearable. Sometimes I thought I was going to pass out and die. Sweating palms, headaches, tense stomach and back muscles, dizziness, heart racing. Here I was, working as a licensed mental health therapist, facilitating anxiety education group therapy sessions, and I was losing the battle to panic attacks.
I finally went to see a therapist for myself and it helped immensely. Managing my urge to be totally in control of things helped me to deal with the anxiety. And eventually, they started to go away. But I was continuously in a state of anxiety in my marriage. It was something that I did not realize until after the marriage was over.
Things that cooled my anxiety- yoga, writing, reminders in my phone to read something inspirational.
And most of all, I had to remove the thing that was perpetuating my anxiety.
The marriage. Not living the life that I wanted for myself.
All of it had to go.
And once I made a firm decision to operate in a different manner, the panic disappeared. I decided that I wanted life to be panic free. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a worrier. But the panic does not take over anymore. It’s not my immediate response to stress or change.
Here’s a few things I did to decrease the panic:
- Make sure my environment stays calm
- Build in time to relax daily
- Set reminders to focus on something positive
- Don’t be afraid to remove things that are negative or draining
- Include self- care in your routine at least once a week
- Find leisurely activities and don’t apologize for participating
- Talk it out with a trusted loved one
- Don’t be afraid to delegate
Panic attacks are pretty common. And they are also manageable. Take back your life and don’t let panic take over.