I suffered my first panic attack when I was coming up for 21 years old. This was my worst one I think, because I didn't know what the hell was happening to me.
I was in a night club. I remember standing on the edge of the dance floor watching everyone enjoying themselves. There were a lot of flashing lights and I felt peculiar.
All of a sudden, I knew I had to get out of there. I was so scared. I asked a girl standing next to me if she would come outside with me as I felt unwell. I did not even know her, but she was the first person I could see.
She helped me down the stairs, as I felt like I was going to collapse and I very nearly asked the staff to call an ambulance. However, I managed to get outside and sit on a wall. I felt sick and I started to shake and to cry.
Then it passed, I felt better, but shaken and shocked. I thanked my helper and got myself home. I was so upset, I remember telling the cab driver what had happened to me.
I was lucky enough not to experience another panic attack again for many years... I mean, yes, I had times of feeling anxious and nervous, even to the extent where (for example) I could not hold a drink in my hand (rather annoying when you want a sip of your tea or a sip of wine).
Then in my forties, they came back with a vengeance.
I found myself questioning why, but I cannot see much logic in it. I went through enough stress in those twenty years whilst I was free of a panic attack.
Shops became the worst culprit. I had to leave them very quickly and once I literally collapsed in a supermarket. I have experienced one on a plane (after which I actually wrote most of this blog), in a car, in a theatre, at a funeral service (I had to leave in the middle of it, slightly embarrassing) but I once even had one at home.
Thankfully, they seem to have left me again now and it has been a while since my last one. Hopefully another twenty years...
Has anyone else experienced full blown panic attacks?
The only way I can describe them is the feeling that I was going to die. They actually only last a few minutes and I had to learn to breathe, by taking small sharp breaths and by sipping water. If I have to leave the house now (rare) I always take water.
I'm not saying this is the answer (far from it), but I read a book called 'Making friends with Anxiety' and the last time I thought I was going to have a panic attack, I told myself "it is ok, this beast is not going to harm you, it is just popping by to say hello".
It actually helped and the feeling passed...
A doctor once questioned me on whether I knew what a panic attack was. I went rather blank. He liked to maintain that he knew a lot about mental health but he didn't know much at all. He went on to tell me that a panic attack was something that happened when being confronted with a lion or a tiger. Silly man!
He has retired now and I sometimes wonder if it was on his bucket list to visit a zoo.
A Moodscope member.
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