When Panic Strikes…

“You’re fine Kirsten just ignore it” I keep repeating in my head as a  feeling of fear comes over me and I start to tremble from the inside out. 

 “You’re watching  Narnia, Prince Caspian.  You’re not thinking about anything, don’t be ridiculous you’re not having a panic attack!  You have nothing to panic about WTF?”

 My husband is sleeping beside me unaware of the mental struggle I’ve been having with myself for the past hour.  The trembling is teetering on a fine line and I know if I give in I’ll start to shake uncontrollably, but I can’t get passed the fear.

 “Breathe Kirsten, just breathe”  I think if I can do that I’ll be okay.

 “Did the nurse say to count on the breaths in or breaths out?  Oh fuck I don’t remember”.  Panic is setting in, I can hear myself  breathing out, thr0ugh pursed lips, like a tire slowly letting out air. 

“Crap am I hyperventilating?  Not good, not good at all,  get it together Kirsten”. 

I’ve only had  this type of panic attack a handful of time in the 10 years I’ve lived with Anxiety, but it doesn’t lessen how scary they are or how  much I hate them.  They come out of nowhere and it feels like my whole central nervous system has gone haywire.   I tremble and shake like a drug addict going through withdrawals.

“Maybe just maybe I can fight this thing”.  I keep telling myself.  ” You’ve been through this numerous times before, it hasn’t killed you yet, nothing to fear”. 

I’m nervous but I feel angry ” Come on you bastard is this all you’ve got?” 

A flash thought “oh shit maybe I shouldn’t of said that, shouldn’t taunt it.”

I can hear my thought process start to change.  The fear wont let up and the shaking is getting stronger, I feel myself giving in to the fear. 

I get up and my whole body feels sluggish, every step I take feels like I’ve just pulled my foot free from mud, my body’s exhausted.  I know I need to take something, but I don’t want to.  I should be able to get myself under control.  Tears start to stream down my face. 

I’ve had friends and one family member be very cruel about my anxiety.  At first I really let it beat me up and get me down.  Now I realize they used my anxiety as a way to make themselves feel superior, kick me when I’m down so to speak and that they didn’t care about me or have my best interest at heart.  That doesn’t mean their betrayal didn’t hurt!

 I wake my husband who sits up and rubs my back until the shaking subsides.  It takes about 20 minutes for the medicine to work.  In my head I’m beating myself up for not being able to get my nerves under control.  My thoughts vary from “What the hell’s wrong with you?” to “Will this ever go away?”

My husband falls back asleep once he sees me starting to relax.   What he doesn’t see is my disappointment.  I’m feeling  defeated, empty, and exhausted.

11 thoughts on “When Panic Strikes…

  1. I’m so sorry you have to go through that. I’m surprised people treated you like that… anxiety is very real and scary. My husband has had a couple of attacks and we didn’t know what the first one was so we called 911 and they took him off in an ambulance since we all thought it was a heart attack. I hope things are calm again soon!

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  2. What I really hate about panic attacks is that you sometimes don’t know what’s happening to you until it’s too late.
    The holidays can bring this on in me too. Just find your happy spot and try to go there. And if you can’t, just breathe. (Although you know this already!)

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  3. Oh Kirsty, I was so surprised to read you talking about a panic attack. I had to comment just so you know I was listening. Thank God they are a rare occurance in your life. What you described is exactly what I suffer with many times each day and night and you explained the process far more eloquently than I could ever have done.

    When you challenge panic there is always an element of self doubt that follows. All you can do is succumb, except it, and tell yourself that you can cope, that no harm will come even though it’s horrible to go through.

    I think you’re warm and wonderful and anyone who says otherwise is a jerk!! Sending love and best wishes, CC xxx

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  4. I had this attack a few nights ago! I have anxiety a lot more frequently than I let on, but I don’t want it to be the only thing I talk about. I try not to let it define me by keeping my blog upbeat and positive, but occassionaly I feel the need to write it down. Does that make sense?

    Thanks for all your kind comments I really appreciate them. Writing it down and making myself vulnerable is difficult, but it’s progress and if it resonates with someone and lets them know that they’re not alone then it was worth it.

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  5. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live with this. I’m glad your husband was there for you. I don’t think you should feel guiltly for needing medication to help sometimes. It sounds like it is no less real than depression. It is a real medical problem like a headache or high blood pressure or heart disease. It’s too bad some people don’t understand and judge you for this. Especially family members. I enjoy reading your blog and think most of the time it is upbeat, but I’m glad you took time to write this out. It helps those of us who are not familiar with it better understand it and it may help someone who suffers from anxiety realize they are not alone. And hopefully it is therapeutic for you.

    I’m glad you are feeling better and I hope you have a long break before you have another attack. ((HUGS))

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  6. Thanks for your comment too Kirsty. I made mine sound self indulgent! Opps! I think I was just so surprized because you don’t give the impression that anxiety effects you so much. I worry constantly about being judged by people who may think badly of me, and that is an added burden that anyone who’s ever had a panic attack could well do without. Opening up sometimes when it’s appropriate can be empowering too, but being upbeat when bad things happen can really help to keep you positive and happy. Thanks for that, the reminder is well received here. XXX

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  7. Honey, I know what you are going through. I started with anxiety when Little Man was first diagnosed with autism. I am not going to say it gets better or easier because I do not know. The important thing is to know that you are trying your hardest and you are strong and willing to make it through.

    You are not alone and do not ever feel as if being true to your emotions or hard times makes you vulnerable, it makes you human.

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  8. Kirsten:

    I can so relate to this. I have these attacks too. For no reason. Hubby will say “Why are you panicking?!” As if I can tell him why. I DON”T KNOW WHY! Argh! I get that “I can’t breathe feeling and I get light-headed. I have to stop talking about it. I feel like it is happening as I write and I’m at work. Can’t have it happen here. I have Zoloft and use to have Xanex, but so far I haven’t had to use that in a few years. It is so scary. All I can do is pray for God to take it away. You are not alone.

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  9. Hi Kirsty – And congratulations for your very honest post. In view of how “friends” and family treated you before, it must have taken some courage to open up here & tell the world about your anxiety issue.

    My wife has agoraphobia so I know quite a lot about panic/anxiety disorders.

    Your anxiety condition is quite common, so you’re not a freak. You have obviously been to a doctor if you have medication, but you should know that most experts believe that medication cannot help you to overcome your panic atytacks. In fact, many believe that meds can make things worse, so be careful. If possible, see a doctor who is familiar with panic/anxiety condition, as many family doctors have scant knowledge about it.

    There are 2 types of approach which have proven successful – and you can do both of them. The most well-documented successful approach is CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and your doctor should be able to recommend a therapist; and the other – a newer approach – is called mindfulness and you can have a go at this yourself by looking here…

    http://www.amazon.com/Mindfulness-Acceptance-Workbook-Anxiety-Commitment/dp/1572244992/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1221762432&sr=8-2

    …or check it out at other sites on the net.

    If you believe that your anxiety condition is getting worse, DO NOT WAIT – get help straight away.

    Anxiety is a cruel condition and I have met many sufferers through the internet. i wish you luck in your fight.

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