I have noticed some people here with anxiety / panic attacks. I wrote this post for them. Where ever I mentioned anxiety in this post, the same applies to panic attacks too. Panic attack is the severe case of anxiety. I have been through these and I came out of those. I am sharing what I have been through so that I can give some confidence that you can and will be out of it because I was out of it. And I will share how to overcome it and then I will also mention some coping techniques.
(Anxiety due to PMO, is generally mild, you dont have to overthink, it goes away after a while, no need to have any special coping measures)
This is what I went through…
- It was 24x7 for the longest time possible, almost 5 years I think.
- I couldn’t go to classes, I couldn’t talk with people, I couldn’t go to places, or crowds.
- I cant handle being alone. I need someone around so that they will take me to doc if things go bad but I have to be alone because I cant share these to anyone.
- Can’t focus on anything, my brain is my worst enemy.
- Nothing thats written online helped, self talk didnt help.
- I know I am worrying over something thats not supposed to be worried of, but still I cant seem to stop it.
- Breathing exercises didn’t help sometimes, sometimes they did. But even when they did, just not enough help.
- Scared to do every single thing, I have to mention that these are the very things I am excited to do, loved to do, before I didn’t even know what anxiety was.
- Hope of the unknown, that something will change, felt like, will it? What if this is how my life is? I can’t be this way all my life…
- There’s no happiness, there’s no peace of mind, there’s nothing I can do to make me feel good, if all the focus is on how to handle anxiety/ panic 24x7, then how can I even sleep, how can I do anything?
- I adapted a sleeping technique back then, I put some calm Christian songs, believe that God will take away my struggles, and used to calm my anxiety a bit just before I sleep. Otherwise insomnia and things will be even worse. Anyway, I wake up next morning, and an another day full of anxiety awaits. Repeated for 5-6 years.
Honestly, thinking about all these is making me anxious now lol. But just not enough to rattle me, not enough to make me unhappy, not enough to bother me, not enough to make me stop doing things I love to do, not enough to make me stop doing things I am worried of. I enjoy myself with or without anxiety. My life is exactly the same with or without it.
So how did this transformation happen? How long will it take? What do we need to do?
Well, Its time taking. You need patience and a constant working on yourself even though things doesn’t seem to work immediately. Because one day you have to be free from it, even though its not today. And, You will be free from it. Believe that.
To get out if it, we need to understand it. So, What is it? Why does it happen? What are the main causes of anxiety/panic attacks?
Well, its basically a neuro chemical imbalance in brain. Also, its due to excessive adrenaline.
Why does it happen?
- Biological : Neuro chemical, Genetics, Hormones, Drug use.
- Psychological : personality, Behavior, Coping skills.
- Social : Stressors, negative events, stress.
So is it treatable? YES!!! How?
Some cases need medication, sometimes we need counseling, sometimes we need lifestyle modification. Sometimes a single one of those is not enough. we have to work on visiting a doctor eventually. Psychiatrist for meds, Psychologist for therapy. There’s a treatment called Cognitive behavioral therapy, that definitely works. Medications will set neuro chemical hormones to a normal level, Cognitive Behavioral therapy will teach you how to manage it now and for the future if it comes and lifestyle modifications will eliminate stressors.
So start with lifestyle modification ( Workout, stop bad habits, anything thats a problem to your conscience, leave it). If it doesn’t work, visit a psychologist. And then may be psychiatrist. Or you can skip directly to psychiatrist instead of psychologist. They will see how severe it is and find a good way to help.
Caution : Do not, I repeat, DO NOT self medicate, not only are the medicines habit forming, you will be addicted and there will be extra issues in your life on top of anxiety / panic attacks… And overtime the issues becomes a lot more… You will dig even more deeper pit instead of coming out of one. Meds needs to be supervised 100%.
This is how it happened for me, I tried to manage, didn’t work. Visited psychiatrist, took meds. Things got better, like 50%… Then went to psychologist took therapy, then used some coping techniques, it got bearable like 20%. Made lifestyle changes, got to 10%. But then practiced all of it and over time got to 2%, which I am at now… And I always self talk my way out of it, or wait it out. But it just doesn’t scare me. Infact I welcome it because it shows things in my life that I am doing wrong.
So, if you are in an extreme situation, visit a doc. I will give some coping skills I learned over time, which may help you for the time being…
- Anxiety is a normal emotion… It helps you stay alert.
It shows you things that could go wrong. Imagine you are the captain, your life is a ship. And the crew is anxiety. They tell you, what if this ship sinks. While you, being captain has to reassure them. I will make sure it doesn’t sink so dont worry.
Or the crew that is anxiety, tries to tell you something. If you don’t listen to them, then they are gonna shout. (which is an anxiety attack) if you still dont listen and tries to run away, then they scream (the panic attack).
Why do they do that?
Well they are scared, they have seen an issue in the ship (which is your life), they dont know if its normal, they worry if the ship sinks, you being their leader have to reassure them,or listen atleast.
Without Anxiety, all there would be is chaos. Who is going to tell you, be careful, Things may turn bad, prepare for it.
Imagine you are going to interview. Anxiety says, what if you fail? Without anxiety, you will be confident. Your character would be like, I will never fail. But if you fail, you will feel like a failure. With anxiety, you will prepare for the worst case scenario. Its okay if I fail, I will attend again. It is there to help, believe it or not.
- Anxiety is not there to scare you, its just a negative emotion. You are anxious because you are giving attention to it.
There are thousands of thoughts that could happen in our head, in a day… More than half of them are negative. Its our ego side, always trying to make us believe that we are bad.
Imagine a guy comes and tells you, you are an awful human being. You ask why. They say, you didnt help me when I needed money, so you are bad. ( Just Imagine you were in no place to help back then). So you try to tell him that you were not in a position to help, he still says you are an awful person, doesn’t matter. Then you leave from that conversation and you will never feel that you are awful, because you know in your heart that you are amazing. But what if you pay attention to him, thats when you are going to have all these negative emotions.
So stop giving attention to every thought. Not every thing you can manage. There’s only some we can do. Choose the ones you can and leave the ones you cant do anything about.
Now I get that my 1st point and the next point says two opposite things. How can I say listen to it and how can I say not to listen to it?
Well, lets combine the 2nd coping skill with the first to make you understand what I am talking about.
Imagine your crew comes and tells you about what if the ship sinks. You ask them the reason. Well, they dont have. You ask him, tell me, is there an issue you noticed with the ship… Then they say what if a rain comes, or tsunami comes. Thats not in captain’s hand is it. So stop giving it attention, and stop participating in the crew’s worry… Eventually they are gonna stop.
So 2nd coping skill is for the things you can’t control, and 1st is for the ones you can, and there is an actual issue.
- Dont get scared of anxiety/panic.
Well, most people are anxious because of anxiety. Has panic attacks due to the fear of panic attacks. I know what you are feeling, Its easy for me to say but harder to do, right?
First, just make peace with it. Dont avoid it. Notice that, its not doing any physical damage. Its all in your head. Whatever it is that you are fearful of… Eliminate it. For example, let’s say I get anxious… Then I immediately put what I am doing aside and ask myself, whats wrong? I listen to my anxious thoughts. I try to convince that its not the case. If its still happening, I try to reassure in different ways. Lets say I tried for half an hour. If nothing is working, I will just let it go… I dont add fuel to the fire. Fine, be there, you are just an annoying neighbour sitting across the hall. I am busy with myself… I keep doing what I am doing. Let it stay for days or weeks or months or even years, I am ready for the worst case scenario even, it usually leaves when we are not adding fuel. It wont escalate in intensity even. Sometimes I have weeks of mild anxiety. Doesn’t bother me at all. I have fun, I interact, I do whatever I want with it being there.
I mentioned not to add fuel to fire in the above paragraph, just reiterating.
Dont drink caffeine. That includes hot or cold drinks. If you do, either decrease it or leave it fully.
Make life style changes.
Workout, it releases endorphins. So you feel happy, fresh… And it also eliminates stress or anxious chemicals in brain.
Whatever it is, in your life thats giving you anxiety, may be PMO, may be a bad habit (may be cigs, or drugs), may be just the way you treat others, or may be something in your personal life, or may be someone, or may be excessive use of phone, may be how you feel on certain things… Whatever it is, work on it, eliminate it… Replace bad habits, with good ones.
Sometimes you get anxious because you are not doing something you want to, which helps you and which is good for you. So, just start immediately and the anxiety will slowly go away. Again its the case of the crew shouting or screaming when the captain is not doing what he is supposed to do. Taking care of the ship.
- Life if a mix of good and bad.
Dont expect it to be good all the time, don’t let it be bad all the time. End of the day, there has to be atleast 50% good, so that you can think of good and sleep well. Find some good habits, or hobbies and properly destress yourself every single day. If not, stresses will develop and then eventually your brain cant handle it and anxieties will develop. Dont live life on auto pilot. Don’t settle for the bad. Always give time for yourself. Take good care of yourself emotionally that way. Love yourself and give yourself time.
- Accept that you have a higher than normal anxiety levels.
some people are highly empathetic. You cant try to get rid of empathy, because empathy is normal. Lack of that means psychopaths or narcissists. Same way, accept that you are different, make peace with it. There will be occasional highs and lows in life. Learn to cope. This works, when you reach lower or mild anxiety levels. If anxiety /panic is higher, find a way to be better. Work on yourself and seek help.
- Never think of a “WHAT IF” scenario, let it go…
Any dialogue, any conversation, any thought, if there is a “WHAT IF”, immediately let it go… I mean dont even think. What if is not a real world scenario. How can you know future or how can you control future? No one knows, except GOD. So stop trying to control future, stop thinking of What ifs, live life in the present. Live for now. What can you control now, control that. Anything thats for the future, dont even go there, dont even think.
Some of you may think… If I dont think of what if, then how can I prepare for the future and whats next to come. Well, if a person is never anxious, what if can help him be prepared. But for an anxious person, it does too much damage. So never think of that… Never pay attention to that… Just live in the present, live in the moment. Infact 99% of anxiety thoughts arise from what if.
There’s a quote I heard, live in the past- causes depression. Live in the future - Causes Anxiety. Live in the present- that means let go of the past, optimistic about future but Live in the moment- is the healthy way to live.
At the moment, I dont know what else to talk about. I will keep adding things whenever I remember something different to what I have shared. Feel free to reply me here or send a private message about what you are going through, if i know something about how to handle your issue, I will definitely help. If anyone knows any different things, feel free to add in the replies so that it will help the ones that are struggling.
1 in 4 people in the world have struggled with some mental health issue atleast once in their lifetime. So whatever it is that you are struggling with, You are not alone. Seek help and find a way to make your life better. Don’t settle, dont consider yourself a victim… Take control