Today, October 10th, is recognized as World Mental Health Day. I wanted to be extremely transparent on this post and let you guys in on one of many reasons why I am a mental health advocate.
This website and all of the products featured in Flowerchild777 Shop wouldn’t be possible without my own life experiences. Yes, I am an avid researcher, especially pertaining to psychology and mental health disparities, but a lot of what I know derives from real life Sh*#! I didn’t just wake up one day and say…hmm let me jump on the mental health bandwagon. As I shared with you all previously, my mental health journey took me outside of the United States for almost 2 years so that I could put in the work on a soul level. In that time, I cried like a baby healing inner wounds. I had to come face to face with my own issues in an environment that was far away from the place in which I had gotten sick. You can learn a little bit more about that time period in the post below.
In 2019, I experienced panic attacks for the first time in my entire life. I was in and out of the ER because I truly believed at that time I was dying. I had rapid heartbeats, shaking, confusion, blurred vision, and was even close to loss of consciousness. I was afraid to be at home alone after a week of panic attacks. I would go to the grocery store and immediately had to leave all items behind, because a panic attack would come upon me. I was so distraught that I couldn’t do normal things anymore. I had to sit at a relative’s house each day because of paranoia and fear of experiencing another attack. Hearing the phrase panic attack would even send me into a panic attack!
I would experience an episode just riding in the car and my sister would have to help me breathe through it. There was one moment my attack was so severe and I felt so helpless, my younger brother had to hold my hand in an interlocking fashion to help me feel safe.
Each panic attack took so much from me energetically, I would often become drained. I had insomnia at night and would have to sleep during the daytime. The new job that I had secured at that time, I had to let it go, because I couldn’t remain focused enough to finish the training.
It was so frustrating not knowing how to calm myself down and not fully comprehending at that time where the trigger was coming from.
What Causes Panic Attacks
When a person is in the middle of a panic attack, a feeling of impending doom overcomes their mind and body.
Panic attacks often arise after an uncontrollable situation transpires in our life. For example, I grew up with an absent father. As a young lady, this wreaked havoc on my emotional wellbeing. I grew into an adult female who had severe attachment and codependency in intimate relationships. I tried to control and steer relationships in a direction where my partner would never leave me in an unconscious attempt to avoid abandonment pain triggers. After experiencing unhealthy relationship cycles AND abandonment triggering, I finally enlisted guidance from a mental health counselor. Through the sessions, I learned that my toxic pattern and low-key obsession with ensuring partners maintained good conduct was a way my wounded inner child was trying to control never experiencing abandonment from a male ever again. Through my distorted lenses, I truly believed that keeping tabs and almost scaring male partners into submission would ensure that they never abandoned me, especially my husband! I mean, he couldn’t abandon me and the children we created together, right? WE had a mission, even if he was completely unaware, to keep our marriage going so that ‘my’ children wouldn’t turn into the little fatherless me.
You guys, this created so much chaos in my relationship and actually made my partner feel as if he was walking on eggshells around me. I’m pretty sure he experienced some sort of mental health disparity having to endure my mannerisms. This type of toxic behavior actually orchestrated events that ended up triggering my inner wound anyway and I had to face the decision to heal the wound or continue to suffer and drag my husband along in the suffering as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also caused MANY to be triggered in a similar manner. This illness came into all of our reality without notice. At the beginning of the pandemic, many people cleaned compulsively, refused to walk down an aisle in the store if someone was talking without a mask, etc. Some humans are overly anxious and panicky at the mere thought of having sars-cov-2. A simple cough, sore throat, or headache stemming from allergies could make someone assume they have contracted the virus and send themselves into a panic attack.
Death and severe grief during this time has also triggered attacks.
Almost every person I know has experienced the loss of a loved one, or multiple loved ones, unexpectedly. This loss may have triggered humans into panic attacks because they could not control the outcome of their loved one’s illness. It’s not uncommon to feel lost, confused, or even scared after this type of emotional trauma, because if a loved one could pass away without warning from a respiratory virus, then who’s next? How much time do we have left on our own life? It’s normal to question our existence after this type of trauma. The panic attacks arise from an awareness that we cannot control death. Death can happen to anyone at any given moment and there is little that we can do to avoid this reality.
Go WITH the Flow, Not Against It
It’s important to know through any moment of impending anxiety or panic that may sweep over your body that there is nothing to control and this is not to be discouraging or bring about a sense of hopelessness. Trying to control the severity only makes the symptoms worse. By trying to control the panic attack, you are in a sense trying to dominate and put the attack under your authority.
Realize that there is nothing to control or overcome. Sit with it. Breathe through it. Accept what is. Perceive what is happening and release it each time it comes. Imagine holding the hand of the panic attack and nurturing it to calm it instead. Think of this as soothing a fussy child in a comforting manner versus trying to soothe an infant while you are flustered, agitated, or hastily attempting to rock them to sleep.
Babies can feel when you aren’t calm and they tend to become more anxious and fussy. Your panic attacks behave in the same way. As you become more unnerved, so does the attack. So, think of the soothing baby technique each time you experience an episode. Think of this as well…When we try to control the attack, we deny ourselves of the opportunity to analyze the trauma and we deny ourselves of our authentic feelings.
It’s important to realize that there’s a natural law of balance in this life. As we learned in Physics, the higher the resistance, the lower the current flow. The more you resist the emotions, the harder it will be for you to move through and out of the attack. So, accept that every battle doesn’t have to be fought. Some battles require peacekeeping. Sometimes you just have to make a truce with life experiences.
Instead of thinking of panic attacks as an enemy, think of it as emotions rushing through your body and having no place to exit. I know that in the moment, it is extremely frightening and worrisome, because you truly feel as if something bad will happen. Understand that this phenomenon happens to many and it is called the fight or flight response. Adrenaline is also known as the “fight-or-flight hormone.” It’s released in response to a stressful, exciting, dangerous, or threatening situation. In my case, the threat was abandonment.
How I Manage Stress/Anxiety to Minimize Panic Attack Occurrences
The first tip to minimizing panic attacks is to start thinking about your situation in a rational manner. Know that You are not alone and that many others have experienced what you are going through. Take a deep breath and analyze the issue with reason. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to walk yourself through it mentally and out loud.
- Am I in a dangerous situation?
- Am I safe?
If you are in a dangerous situation, such as an abusive relationship, I would invite you to seek help from the National Domestic Violence Hotline so that you can learn of ways to escape the relationship unharmed.
If you aren’t in a dangerous situation, lit your mind at ease and say this affirmation…I AM SAFE RIGHT HERE IN MY BODY. NO HARM OR DANGER WILL COME NEAR ME.
It may be best to leave the environment in which the trauma was activated for a little while to get some fresh air and to place yourself in an untriggered environment. Go on a walk in nature or take a drive. If you can afford it, book a hotel or Airbnb stay and just relax.
It also helps to listen to meditation music, inspirational or spiritual music, whatever is your calming technique.
- How will this triggering event change my life?
- Is this a temporary interruption in my life or will this occurrence leave a lifelong impression?
If it is temporary, tell yourself that this is only a moment in time that will soon pass.
If this occurence is something that you will have to contemplate year after year, the best thing to do now is accept it. Accept that it happened. Accept that there was possibly nothing that you could have done to avoid it. Understand that it is now apart of your story and choose to use it as a lesson for someone else and/or a shift in your life path in a positive way.
The paramedic gave me some really good advice, which was your situation may be bad, but someone else always has it worse. The paramedic saw these type of attacks all the time. I was using my ambulance ride as an opportunity to vent and let it all out. After all, I thought I was dying! So, I didn’t care about airing out all my dirty laundry.
He told me that my situation was not uncommon AND that someone else had it worse. Now, that statement wasn’t to minimize the feelings that I was experiencing. I had every right to be overwhelmed emotionally. However, continuing to suffer in this way was not helping my body at all. I couldn’t even be a healthy functioning mother to my children due to the distress, and that was unacceptable for me.
So, this little bit of advice helped me to realize that, yes, my experience was traumatic for me and it was okay for me to feel hurt, abandoned, betrayed, etc. However, at some point, I had to move on. I couldn’t be a victim for life. What happened, happened. I was either going to believe that this was the worst thing that could ever happen to any human being OR I could accept the fact that unpleasant things happen to everyone at some point in their lifetime, this is an unfortunate reality of life itself, and I will eventually grow through this as many others have done or are doing.
Panic attacks and anxiety attacks go hand in hand. We label panic attack as anxiety attacks because we often feel extreme anxiety during an episode.
So, in order to minimize panic attacks, it is important to minimize anxiety. Anxiety is intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Accept the reality that you cannot control everything, and that is okay. Accept the fact that you also do not know everything about the future, and that is also okay.
Today, I make sure that I take a break if I ever feel stressed, because I did realize afterwards that the enormous amount of stress and sudden unforeseen changes in my life contributed to the panic attacks. So much was going on in my personal life, it literally felt like an earthquake mixed with a tornado hit my reality and I was just hanging on for dear life.
Whenever I feel overly stressed, I make sure I take a break instead of trying to press forward like nothing is wrong. I’m more honest about my feelings now. I talk to my husband or my mental health counselor about any feelings of insecurity, fear, worry, etc. This helps me to remain authentic about my internal struggles. The worst thing to do is boggle all of those emotions inside and let it marinate into your spirit. These feelings want to escape, so if you suppress it and try to continue pressing it down, eventually it will pop out like a Jack-in-the-box. Be open, vulnerable, and honest with your feelings with a trusted, safe partner or counselor.
After being turned around at the ER and wasting hundreds of dollars, I realized that running to the hospital was NOT going to solve my problem. The ultimate person who could help me was ME.
Now, if you have a family history of heart problems or other health issues, it would be vital for you to get checked out by a trusted healthcare professional, such as a holistic health practitioner, one who does not benefit from the pharmaceutical industry (just keeping it real.) Sometimes unexplained amd severe anxiety is caused by mineral deficiencies, such as iron, vitamin B, or magnesium. Getting a clean bill of health with blood work and heart examinations will put your mind at ease.
Dr. Mandell has a great video explaining panic attack symptoms in this YouTube video.
Once the status of your health is cleared, you can rest assured that the panic attacks are stemming from an emotional issue as I described above. The key to resolving the episodes will be healing the emotional pain. You can’t heal what you conceal. Hiding wounds will only take the injury longer to heal. Get to the root of the trigger and, if you can, resolve the issue with the person or persons who play a factor in that emotional pain. If you’re unable to do that for whatever reason, maybe you do not feel safe with that person, I always advocate for speaking with a mental health professional. Speak with a trusted spiritual counselor if that’s a free resource for you. Speak with a parent if you have that type of relationship with them. Speak with a spouse, long term partner, or best friend. In any case, try to speak with someone who will not judge you, someone who will safeguard your trauma, meaning they have no intention to tell others what you are experiencing, and someone who will help you to feel completely safe with your vulnerability.
Allow yourself to cry the anxiousness out or talk it out. Speaking releases the energy from our throat chakra. I could literally feel the heaviness leaving my throat as I talked to my husband about my emotions.
Crying releases the energy from your emotional body, which is the bridge between the physical and mental body. I will go into more detail on a later post describing the correlation between emotional pain and physical ailments. Just remember to release what ever comes. Try not to keep it trapped in your body.
For World Mental Health Day, I am offering 10% off for every item in my shop until October 12th, so check out some of the products we offer by clicking the link below! No code is necessary.
Download these printable affirmations today to reduce fear, panic, and anxiety.
I hope that this post helps you as much as it has helped me in my life! I have attempted to sum up everything there is to know about panic attacks, but I’m sure there is a stone unturned! Feel free to leave your questions or comments below, especially if you have experienced something similar. Your story can help others who are battling panic attacks or some other form of mental health disparity.