Anxiety is something that me and a lot of other people suffer with. Some of you reading this may not know what anxiety is or what a panic attack is. Some of you may suffer from it. But I will try my best to explain what it is and also give a few tips that I was told by my therapist a few years ago.
I've struggled with anxiety since I was around 10 I think and I had my first panic attack when I was 12. The symptoms and reasons for anxiety I'll write about are only from my own experience so I do not speak for everyone who struggles with anxiety. The way it is for me is not the way it is for everyone.
Let's start with some symptoms of anxiety and/or a panic attack. It's different for everyone, so again, this is only from my own personal experience. Chest pain is very common, it's almost feels like someone's is grabbing your heart and lightly crushes it in their hand. Numbness in hands, feet, arms, finding it hard to breathe and a racing heart is also some symptoms that I usually experience. A lot of people get nauseous, their mouth gets really dry and their hands get really sweaty.
You will not die from a panic attack, it will last for about 5-20 minutes and you are absolutely not alone with feeling this way. Someone once told me that people with anxiety are like those cars on the street whose the car alarm goes off from a little gust of wind unlike all other cars whose car alarm will only go off is someone's smashing the window.
So what can trigger anxiety or a panic attack?
The only time I barely feel anxious at all is when I am home alone. I have better days and I have worse days. On a really bad day I won't leave my house at all. But even on a good day it is hard for me to be out in public. I always feel like everyone are staring at me, judging me and talking about me. People always tell me that it's just me being paranoid but I can't turn off my feelings. Sometimes the feeling of everyone staring at me can get overwhelming and I start having trouble breathing. If I feel like that I know that I have to get out from where I am because I'm about to have a panic attack. Things that can trigger my panic attacks are crowded places, very small places or if I'm the center of attention. But sometimes I can have a panic attack in the middle of the night, for no reason.
So over the years I've learned a few things that makes life with anxiety a little easier. I'll write them below and hopefully it will help someone.
1. Get help, talk to a therapist. I know this is so hard to do, because I've done it twice and I'm probably gonna start seeing one again. But it really helps to talk about it to someone and (this takes a long time and a lot of work) but you could eventually overcome your anxiety or at least live a much easier life.
2. If you ever find it hard to breathe because you're panicking you can ''breathe in a square'' as my past therapist called it. You breathe in for 4 seconds, then you hold your breath for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds and hold your breath for 4 seconds. And just keep breathing like that until you feel like you can breathe normally again.
3. Something that usually helps me calm down a little is to look around me and try to find 5 things I can see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste. This helps me feel like I'm present and doing this + the breathing exercise can help a lot.
These are some things that have helped me through the years. I know people use medication sometimes but I haven't gotten prescribed any so I haven't tried that yet.
So last thing I want to write about is what you can do if you are with someone who is having a panic attack. You could do some or all of these things. Just be respectful and don't push them to do things they can't do.
Stay calm (!!!) and be patient.
Give the person a glass or bottle of water.
Sit down next to them, show them that you are still with them.
Ask them to tighten a muscle and then relax (ex. make a fist and then relax the hand)
Remind them to keep breathing, slowly and preferably through my nose.
Place their own hand on their stomach so they can feel their own breathing.
Try to have a conversation with them, if they can't then just be quiet. Just being there can help a lot.
Ask what they need to change in the environment they are in right now for them to feel safe. And if it's possible to change it, help them do that.
I hope this was helpful for someone. Until next time, stay alive.