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Panic attack tools! Inspired by ntv, who'd a thunk it?

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Adlham posted 9/22/2017 19:25 PM

So notthevictim mentioned in another thread that there's been an uptick in panic attack topics.

17 years ago, I had a massive nervous breakdown. Talk about panic attacks from hell! For an entire year I only slept alone in my home 1 night out of 7. Either me & the kid packed up and stayed with friends or friends came to stay with us. DD was 3 at the time.

In that year, I took Ativan every single night just so I could get through my life. Also, intensive therapy with someone specifically trained for my PTSD.

I look back and can laugh about it now but oh god, I still remember how awful it was.

Driving at dusk? I'd have to pull over about every 3 blocks and wait it out. It was so bad that I ended up in the ER. Twice.

So...one day I was sitting in my nursing psych class and the professor was discussing panic attacks. When she said that with many people who suffer, you need to find out what they are so angry about.

Let me tell you, that lightbulb moment nearly made me burst into tears right then and there. I left my cheating abusive asshat when DD was 3 months old. I moved across state and enrolled in college so we wouldn't have to be on food stamps and HUD housing forever. I worked 3 part time jobs to counteract the absolute shame I felt about being on assistance. Meanwhile, asshat purposely avoided paying child support.

Who the hell has time to deal with their issues with all that?

So here's all the things in my toolbox for panic attacks. I very rarely have them. Like maybe once every few years when I forget to vent about whatever is really pissing me off on a visceral level. I worked in nursing homes, so I had to vent a lot.

1- vent your feelings, somehow. I have friends or use Twitter (don't laugh, it keeps me sane)

2- pretend you're going to the bathroom and bear down while deep breathing. If you're like me with 3 kids who wrecked your bladder, do it on the toilet. Trust me. Anyways, panic attacks are part of your lizard brain's Fight or Flight warning system. That means in addition to not being able to freaking breathe, your body decreases blood flow to your digestive system.

As my therapist put it, if you are in danger because you're running from a T-Tex, the very last thing you need to deal with is stopping to use the bathroom!

3- make yourself deep breathe slowly. Don't hyperventilate. It takes a few minutes but it helps override your system by basically telling it that there is no danger.

4- the fabulous ER doc instructed me to place my fingertips right above my nose, slow down my breathing, then first speak aloud my fears and then repeat to myself that I am ok. It sounds crazy but he worked with PTSD sufferers in the Croatia-Serbian was so I trusted him and it does really work.

Oops forgot to say that use one hand for above your nose and place the other hand on the back of your head. Yes, it looks a bit silly, but I'd rather look ridiculous than suffer panic attacks.

Ok that's the stuff I can think of off the top of my head that works for me. Who's got some other good non-medicinal to I keep up their sleeves?

And many thanks to NTV for the inspiration!

See above for edit reason

[This message edited by Adlham at 7:28 PM, September 22nd (Friday)]

4kids posted 9/22/2017 20:03 PM

Adlam. That's like me. Not as bad as you experienced (hugs) but it resonates. I'm scared all the time now.

Thank you for the post.

Do you squeeze the nose at the bridge?

When this happens to me, I just keep repeating "I'm going to be okay. I'm going to be okay. " it doesn't always work though.

Strength

Adlham posted 9/22/2017 20:19 PM

4kids, maybe a slight squeeze at the nose. But really, not necessary.

Another thing I forgot. Because I was in nursing school & we happened to be studying the heart at the time, I fell victim to the Oh shit, I have those symptoms thing that is so common when studying health care!

So my big focus during my panic attacks was that I was going to have a heart attack and die and no one would find my body for days and my daughter would be all alone with my corpse. Yes, I know, I was really over the top!

So another thing that I did was to make her a phone book and teach her how to use the phone. She was 3. I used a mini polaroid camera that you can still find in stores, took pictures of various people in her life as well as an ambulance, police car,& fire trucks. One picture to each page and the phone number. As crazy as it sounds and as bad as I felt that my insanity was trickling down to her, it was also a huge relief to take steps to alleviate my particular brand of crazy!

Edit: darn typos!

[This message edited by Adlham at 8:21 PM, September 22nd (Friday)]

steadychevy posted 9/22/2017 21:42 PM

Okay, I don't get it. Where's the part about farting as a panic attack control mechanism?

I've had a few (not many really) in my relatively long life. There are some techniques like breathing - breath in slowly , breathe out, etc. - and other techniques. For some reason the attacks came during my middle age and then quit. I'm not sure why they started or why the stopped. I prefer the "stopped" version. I was never on any medication but did steal an Ativan or two from my wife's (WW) prescription.

4kids posted 9/22/2017 21:49 PM

(((Steadychevy))) 😔

Adlham posted 9/22/2017 22:04 PM

SteadyChevy, it's another way to override your lizard brain.

You can't run or fight for your life if you're going to the bathroom. Which, essentially, panic attacks trigger your flight or fight hormones to dump into your system. So by bearing down like you're using the toilet, you're helping to tell your lizard brain that you are not in any actual danger so stop dumping those hormones into your system. It takes a few minutes but it does actually override your brain.

Hope that makes sense!

Notthevictem posted 9/22/2017 22:50 PM

Okay, I don't get it. Where's the part about farting as a panic attack control mechanism?
I've had a few (not many really) in my relatively long life.

If you've only had a few farts in your life, no wonder you're getting panic attacks.

Adlham posted 9/22/2017 22:51 PM

🤣oh my, please yes, inject as much humor as possible!

Notthevictem posted 9/22/2017 22:59 PM

Me? Humor?

You just suggested using a dump to combat panic attacks.

And I bet you knew if you didn't I would.

Adlham posted 9/22/2017 23:08 PM

It's seriously my favorite tip to share! It's so funny but it actually works!

Dorothy123 posted 9/22/2017 23:11 PM

I'm eager to hear some more ideas.

[This message edited by Dorothy123 at 11:27 PM, September 22nd (Friday)]

Wool94 posted 9/23/2017 00:46 AM

Lol. Maybe the best thread ever...

Notthevictem posted 9/23/2017 08:57 AM

Someone else mentioned yoga and meditation. Probably not while driving. Hopefully she'll poke her head in here.

Adlham posted 9/23/2017 09:35 AM

Trust me, driving while a full fledged panic attack is going is impossible! I've had to pull over on a major thoroughfare in Vegas more than once!

changeneeded posted 9/23/2017 10:40 AM

Really love the advice to sit on the toilet first if you have children. Spoken like a true veteran.

uxorpatricius posted 9/23/2017 10:59 AM

WOW! THIS IS AWESOME!

(Also - you are not alone on the childbirth bladder thing. Isn't sneezing and coughing fun? Used to be able to jog - now bike or Nordick ski, but no jog...also had to give up kick boxing because of the bounce to the effort. And, wow, could I use a bag to kick on some days at this point in my life! Still, I would not give up having had kids for the sake of my bladder. My grown girls still don't know - I will wait to tell them until after babies are born, I don't want to ruin the dream!)

I still deal with panic attacks, but the reasons have shifted. And now that it is more than three years out from DDay, it is often triggers that raise up the ghosts of the past. It is also the xAP still hovering in our lives (it is on a different post, so I won't go on and on about that).

Tools like these steps are so critical for me now!!! THANK YOU!

WarriorPrincess posted 9/23/2017 11:14 AM

Okay, I don't get it. Where's the part about farting as a panic attack control mechanism?

It is a variation of the Valsalva maneuver. It puts slight pressure on a nerve (vargas nerve) which causes release of a chemical that slows the heart rate. It also manipulates the blood flow in the heart slightly, which can cause blood pressure to decrease.

Its something I learned in EMT-B school to help with hyperventilation, which often accompanies an unnecessarily high heart rate.

steadychevy posted 9/23/2017 11:22 AM

Thanks all. I thought Adlham was providing some useful techniques for countering panic attacks. More useful info showed up from posters that followed. My comment was regarding being inspired by ntv which I assumed meant farting.

sassylee posted 9/23/2017 11:35 AM

Adlam - the hand above the nose - what is that hand doing? Is it hovering in the air? Resting on your nose? It's hard to picture that one.

For panic attacks, I eventually started to recognize the symptoms leading up to one and also the thought processes and triggers and relied heavily on diversion before the panic attack hit.

I've had young students with severe anxiety disorders. It was amazing to watch them...one boy, I'd see his face turn beat red and twist in anguish, his eyes filling up with tears - and then he'd use one of his therapidt's strategies - counting or breathing (I didn't know the strategy but I couldn't see him doing anything but breathing) and voila - his face would turn back to normal and he happily returning to his task. From initial physical symptoms to normal would take 30 seconds.

Pretty amazing for a 7 year old!

swmnbc posted 9/23/2017 11:44 AM

I recently had my first panic attack. Thank you for the tips.

Re the post-childbirth bladder . . . I highly recommend something called kegel balls. Look them up on Amazon. I used to have trouble with doing a lunge or aerobics on a full bladder, sneezes, etc. After using them for just a week, no more leaks! I sleep longer at night too. Plus I have super strength in my lady parts now.

I don't know if they work for everyone, but the extra strength in those muscles is only a win in my book. I recommend the larger ones shaped like cherries for anyone who has had kids.

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