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Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Panic Attacks


I have anxiety and depression and I’m currently on 30mg of citalopram (upped from 20mg). In terms of mild, moderate and severe; my depression has scored moderate but my anxiety is currently severe. I’ve been experiencing very few panic attacks for a couple of years (not knowing what they are), but in the last seven months they’ve become a frequent occurrence. They happen a few times a month, as often as once a week and now they’re becoming a daily experience. I experience different symptoms; in some cases I shake and twitch a lot, blink rapidly and then yell my head off uncontrollably like I’m being attacked.

I sometimes blow into a brown paper bag my AA sponsor gave me. Recently I’ve just felt my head become light, my body become heavy and I’ve collapsed where I am. (It’s happened in lectures, AA meetings, in the library, in a gig; with friends. When I was at York University one happened to me during Fresher’s Week but I didn’t know what it was – it also lasted about half an hour).I also hyperventilate, gasp, and in some cases laugh hysterically. Some attacks only last a few minutes; others as often as 10-15 minutes. Afterwards I feel cold and a bit miserable, and then go back to normal. When I have my attacks my brain shuts off and I can’t process my thoughts or actions properly; part of me loses consciousness.

I’m not really sure what brings them on or triggers them. I’ve referred myself for CBT on the NHS and had a consultation already so hopefully I’ll start receiving treatment in the next few weeks. I’m also considering upping my medication to 40mg, but I’m worried that if I do that they’ll be no change and I don’t want to keep increasing it in case I get bad side effects. Lots and lots of people suffer from anxiety, depression and panic attacks and it’s nothing to be ashamed of or worried about.

Obviously when you see it happen to another person you feel powerless and don’t know what to do, but the best thing is to stay calm and reassuring – if you find it difficult to handle leave the room and don’t engage with the person, and know that it will pass shortly. I’m a pretty hysterical, dramatic type of person anyway – I don’t react well to pain or fear, and also react in an extreme way to excitement or joy. People don’t freak out so much if I laugh for ages, but seeing someone scream or cry seems to disturb people. I’ve always been terrified of spiders, and growing up my parents would always get furious with me for screaming or being terrified of them. I would also scream when the shower started running cold, or I banged myself or something small. Obviously if I could decide how to react I wouldn’t react in a seemingly ‘over’ reactive way, but it is an instantaneous physical reaction that doesn’t involve thought or consciousness.

Because I’ve had counselling for years, I’m very self reflective (and self obsessive, but working on that) and I’m in AA; I’m used to talking about my feelings and listening to others talk about their
feelings. But some people just don’t ‘do’ feelings very well. And that doesn’t make them horrible insensitive cunts; it just means we’re all wired differently. (My dad actually used to tell me to kill myself when I said I felt depressed; not cos he's a bastard or meant it, it was just his way of handling his emotions). If I had a choice I wouldn’t have depression or anxiety, I wouldn’t suffer from panic attacks, I wouldn’t be an alcoholic, I wouldn’t scream my head off or jump at the slightest thing (when I got my nose pierced the lady nearly had a heart attack from my yelling) but that isn’t the case. We don’t choose how we are or the kind of person we are. All we can do is work on ourselves and work on the ‘bad’ bits and polish up the ‘good’ bits. There’s nothing wrong with feeling your feelings; they can’t kill you, and we’re all human and there’s no ‘negative’ emotions because emotions run on a spectrum. Best thing is to just ride them out. Hopefully the attacks will get better with therapy and if needed upping my dosage.

Do you suffer from panic attacks or any mental health disorders? If you do then I hope this post helps a bit and they work out for you in the future. Remember; nothing lasts forever, the good and the bad.

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