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What is this? A panic attack? Help!

Old 04-05-2013, 01:46 PM
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What is this? A panic attack? Help!

I needed to buy groceries, so I got out of "home" (I'm renting this place but it doesn't feel like Home, at all...), took the bus and while I was getting closer to the shop, it started... First, I started to feel uncomfortable, like when you're not sure if you turned the lights off before you left. Then I started to feel real nervous, like you feel before a school exam or something... But I had no reason, absolutely no reason to feel like that!
When I got out of the bus, it got worse...and worse... My heart was racing, I started to sweat a lot...for no reason! I tried to think to my self "OK, why are you feeling like this?" I tried to be logic but I couldn't focus. Thoughts were running, flying in my head, thousands of thoughts at the same time! I tried to calm down, tried to think, to remain logic...but I just coudn't focus! It got so bad that I felt like I was about to throw up!
I bought what I needed but forgot about half the stuff I wanted to buy. I just wanted to get out and going back "Home"!
Right now, I'm at the bus stop in front of the shop, waiting for the bus, typing on my iPad, trying to explain how I felt, how I feel. I feel better now but I'm still shaking...
This isn't the first time. I remember that I felt like this quite often when I was at school and later on, at work... Not necessarily before an exam, it happened for no particular reason, just like now. I remember one morning, I was in the bus going to school, I felt so bad that I had to kneel, just in front of everyone... At that moment, I felt so bad, so sick that I didn't care if they were all watching me.
I've read about social anxiety and what I read sounds very familiar! What about you, guys? Have you felt like this before? Do you still feel like this sometimes? Is this what's called a "panic attack"?
You know what? I really love this place (website) because I can share these things with you all and I know that no one will make fun of me. This is something very personal and it is very, very hard to talk about this with friends. I have talked about this to a few "friends" but I feel like they either don't understand or worse, they think I'm making this up! The worst answer that I keep getting is "this is all just in your head". Well, where else is it supposed to be? In my elbow?!?! Of course it's in my head! Everything you feel is in your head! Some really try to help and tell me things like "you should go out more, meet people, have some fun, so that you think about other things, positive things!" Well, thanks for the advice, but when I get these "attacks", it's precisely when I go out or when I'm surroundd by people... What I don't understand is why it happens or better yet, why it doesn't happen all the time! There are times when I've been to the movies or a sold out concert, surrounded by many, many people...and it went just fine. Other times, like now, I can't explain why, I can't understand why...
Have you found a way to deal with these attacks? I mean, besides taking some pills...
Thank you for reading this and if you can, tell me how YOU deal with it. It could help me a lot! Thanks!
P.S.
I just got "home". I feel better but my stomach is still upset. I know that if I watch TV or read/watch something on the Internet, I will get distracted and it will help to feel just fine again, but why do these things keep happening? How can I prevent these situations? I got home from the grocery store and when I was putting everything away, I realised that I forgot to buy more than half of what I needed! When I was there, all I wanted was to go back home. This is becoming a problem, a bigger and bigger problem in my life. When this happens, that "voice", as I call it, comes back and that's when it's the loudest, when it gets most powerful...Izt tells me "why do you keep doing this to yourself? You know what to do! You know that this doesn't happen when you use dope! Is it really worth it? Are you sure that, even with all the downsides, that living with dope isn't the best thing for you?" and so on... It took a while but now, most of the time, I'm strong enough to stay sober and not give in to the temptation...but sometimes, like this evening, it is very hard to convince myself that not going to the trainstation (that's where all the dealers are, here) and not buying dope and staying clean is the right thing to do! That "voice" can be incredebly convincing in moments like these! What keeps me from buying and using is thinking about all the time that I've been clean and telling myself that it would be a shame to use now, after such a long time and anyway, after using, I know that I would regret it!
But let's go back to these "attacks" or whatever it is called. Have you had them? When, where? And have you found a way to deal with them, or better yet, to avoid them?! That would be great!
Looking forward to read your replies! Thanks again!
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Old 04-11-2013, 06:13 AM
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I've had "attacks" like the one you describe on and off over the years. I don't know if they're considered panic attacks... the few people I know who have had diagnosed panic attacks described it as very physical. One actually called the police because he thought he was having a heart attack. Mine are physical... I don't like to be around light, I like to have pressure on my head (blankets and pillows), and I get very twitchy... but not as extreme as what I think of as a "panic attack"... but I don't really know.

A few months ago I finally decided that I needed medication for my depression and anxiety, so I'm on Prozac now; that and the sobriety seem to be helping massively so far.

But I also dealt with them med-free for many years. I can describe my process:

Step One. Get myself to the "safest" possible place. Ideally this is home, in my room with the door closed. But if I'm out and about it may be a park or a library or even just locking myself in a bathroom somewhere.

Step Two. STOP the swirling thoughts. I find that the first thing I experience is the physical feeling. Then my brain basically reacts like it's a fire alarm and goes looking for the fire. If I give in to this, I'll latch onto some crazy train of thought and become obsessed with it. "I'm anxious because of that thing that happened yesterday!"

Step Three. Focus on the physical sensations. I remind myself that the thoughts are just my brain reacting to whatever biochemical thing is happening to me, and focus in on those feelings. I mentally scan my body for the places where I feel the anxiety, and examine them the way I would physical pain. I try to feel it just as a sensation, without attaching words or meaning to it.

Step Four. Once I've gotten to that wordless, physical place, I just wait it out. Again, ideally this is at home in bed with the covers over my head! But in a pinch I can do it anywhere... I just need to work harder when I'm out to not let myself obsess over whether or not people are noticing my behavior.


A lot of this approach is based of of things I learned from meditation, which I've practiced since I was young. You might want to try attending some classes... there are free classes offered by many centers everywhere I've ever lived, so maybe some near you too?

A couple links from Luxembourg:

Welcome to the Frontpage
Cours de méditation - Urbeez Luxembourg
AngloINFO Luxembourg: Pilates, Yoga & Meditation The AngloFILE Business Directory Luxembourg


Anyway, that's what works for me. Have you been to a doctor about this?
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Old 04-11-2013, 06:22 PM
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Fantail very much nailed it. I just wanted to say that you're NOT alone in dealing with these types of episodes and more people experience them --some to a degree that is debilitating --than you'd imagine. Your body is reacting to what it 'perceives' as a threat with the 'fight-or-flight' response...which is what you'd experience if you were faced with imminent danger. The trigger for this may be a specific situation, circumstance or place or nothing at all. My attacks began 15 years ago out of sleep. I was absolutely convinced I was going to die. I called 911. 20 minutes later I'm apologizing to the Paramedics when they arrive, as I was obviously still alive. After some half-dozen medical workups a very astute MD concluded that I had acute anxiety and depression and after starting medication (antidepressant and anticonvulsant) I was almost 'normal' after two weeks. The doctor and many others have reminded me that not all people will need medicinal intervention; it really depends on the severity. Years later I'm on a low dosage and have managed to keep them at bay. You'll find out that the key to controlling anxiety episodes is exactly what fantail has detailed above: stopping the 'what-if/oh no!' thoughts in their tracks, breathe and then talk to someone (if you can) and/or post here

In sum, this is not something to feel ashamed or fearful of. Talk to your doctor and a therapist if you can. Realize what your stress triggers are as well---anxiety and extreme stress are quite capable of leaving you in a mental fog and forgetful. It's great that you are aware of what's going on and willing to be open about it.

Please keep us posted on your progress.

All the best!

T.
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