23 May 2015

Anxiety, Panic Attacks and Coping

There are many good books on acute anxiety as well as articles online. I have a paperback bought years ago that I read for a bit of support, to review, feel more grounded. Self help books aren't on my top favorite genres to read, but there are times when such books can be useful.
The days, weeks and even months can go by when managing anxiety is easy. Then there are times when one might feel as if somebody put a curse on them because out of nowhere the fear blossoms, takes over life, and makes you miserable. Trying to figure out what the trigger is, I've found, can help ease the symptoms even if none is there. Unfortunately, acute anxiety doesn't always ease until its ready to or medication begins to work. There are things I do to help, like leave the negative area, or turn around and go home. The closer I get to home, the better I feel. If I can't leave, then I sometimes I say in my  mind or write down over and over, "Go away." Weird, but it helps by putting me in control, and giving me something to think about other than dwelling on the feeling I'm going to die. When I'm asked how it feels, I say, "Like the entire world hates me all at once."

A panic attack is the mother of all anxiety attacks. The first time I had one I didn't know what was happening. I was in a group business meeting. I felt with all my being, if I moved, then I would surely die. The fear is as concentrated as an elephant in a thimble. I felt in a zone where I can hear, but everything is muffled. I feel hot, but I'm cold. Nobody around me knew the intense pain I felt from that fear because I functioned, spoke, and didn't tell anyone. How do you speak about something you don't know what it is? The year was 1985, thirty years ago this spring. And after years of none, for the second day in a row at the same time in the morning I feel the panic bloom, not into a full blown panic attack, but one that is very alarming. As one becomes older, anxiety and panic attacks can take on an additional fear because we are so near the end zone of life.
On the positive side, anxiety and panic attacks are better understood by the public today than in 1985. I rarely have to deal with the what's-wrong-with-you interrogation and looks from people.  I find more often, people understand from personal experience about acute anxiety, young and old. Panic attacks, on the other hand, aren't a subject many people share. I've found that some people don't understand the difference between a panic versus anxiety attack. From what I've seen on television, read, and experience...if you've had a panic attack, then you know the difference.

How to cope? Everyone is different. Talking to your doctor and therapist, I feel, is the best way to help manage and treat the conditions. As for me, I learn by living, listening to my doctor, and taking tips from other people, like giving myself permission to be all right, not feel defective. My personal coping skills that sometimes (but not always) work...
Cold, if I can touch something cold
Being early, not rushed
Repeating and/or writing down to myself over and over, "Go away."
Leaving the room or area (usually telling someone ahead of time I might have to leave)
Managing perfumes, scents...they can often trigger an anxiety attack
Taking along a change of clothes
Avoiding certain places
Planing routes over and over
Bland meals a few days to a week before an appointment or outing
Having safety objects and zones...home, car, routes, camera, cough drops, tissue
Wearing clothes and shoes that are comfortable

Prayers and Believing in myself that I'll be all right are the best help of all.


  1. I am very impressed that you have worked out so many specific ways/things that can help you cope, Maywyn! You are amazing!

  2. Thank you Quinn,
    It took years to learn them all.

  3. I"m bookmarking this, Thank you Maywyn for all this wonderful advice. sending you a hug,Diana

    1. Thank you for the hug! Hugs to you. Your great success at the art show is inspiring.
      This morning anxiety kicked in earlier but not near as strong as the last two days. I went out for a while/didn't stick around to see if there was to be a third day at the same hour. :)

  4. I'm not sure if I had panic attacks or anxiety attacks- but I'm guessing from what you wrote that I had anxiety attacks. I think I commented before that I gave up eating flour-and that helped me a lot. This is NOT FUN and it is REAL. I've known other women who have trouble leaving their homes-I was on the verge of that because I never knew when one would strike. It's an awful thing. I'll keep you in my prayers, Maywin. Lots of love and a hug to you.

    1. Hi Debra,
      Thank you. Prayers to you as well.
      I hope everyone finds ways to create safety zones they can use to be more mobile, and deal with the symptoms well enough to function. A change in diet/what you regularly eat, can sometimes make a difference. It can take time to figure out, like you have, what might not be good for one's system.
      Have a great week

  5. Dear Maywyn- I didn't really know there was a difference between panic and anxiety attacks. My female doctor was the first one to put a name to them. I had them for years. Then they started coming less and less. It has been quite some time since I've had one.
    They started out with me as a small child . So I understand friend. It sounds to me like you have learned how to cope. So appreciate you sharing- makes any of us who have had these same attacks not feel so alone. I will be" looking up" for you. Hugs

    1. Hi Debbie,
      Hugs to you Debbie
      Here is a good web site that explains the differences well.


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