HUH?

That can be the reaction a lot of the time when you say “I’m having a PANIC ATTACK”. *TRIGGER WARNING*

What is a PANIC ATTACK?

A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause (Mayo Clinic).

As I sat in my sun lit garden over the June bank holiday weekend, I suffered a panic attack. I still struggle to admit to myself that i’m having or have had a panic attack, proof that I still carry some self stigma regarding my mental health. Unfortunately, a panic attack it was, and it packed a punch.

What did it feel like?

As always I can only document my experiences, and do understand everybody’s experience of such situations is unique and can vary.

I was thinking of small problems that were bobbing around in my head when one thought hit the jackpot. Imagine the game you see at carnivals, hook a duck, the ducks gently flowing around are my little problems, but the hooked duck was the one panic latched onto. This was the start of a third panic attack in my life, and I knew what was coming next

My stomach instantly felt like it fell a mile or two from my body, and the chair I was sitting on seemed to be of little support to me. Did you ever here a train coming into a station from a distance, but it still hadn’t come into sight? That is how my heart rate played out. I could feel it rumbling a little bit faster, and a little bit more forcefully. Within 10 seconds my heart was vibrating against the walls of my chest with purpose. My chest didn’t want to miss out on the action, and a tightness squeezed and pulled across my airways.

I scrambled to the bathroom, and started empty reaching from just pure fear. As I sat by the toilet, a conveyor belt of distorted thinking, and intrusive thoughts processed through my mind. I sat there from approx 20 minutes, waiting for the peak to pass, which it did.

That evening and the following day, I was shook and feeble, searching for constant reassurance, and trying to process how panic had caught me off guard. I hadn’t been practicing what I preached for the few weeks prior. I failed to hit pause for my own benefit over that period, and in fact, added more responsibility into my days, mostly silly things that I had inflated in my head as jobs that needed instant attention, when they didn’t.

Much like a boxer would experience bruising or soreness a few weeks post fight, my bruises at this point in time are heightened anxiety, slight paranoia, and a few physical symptoms such as fidgetiness. This will dilute and pass.

I hope my short piece here gives some insight and understanding into how panic attacks can be nasty pieces of work, hopefully, some comfort may be gathered from knowing other people in our communities have experienced something similar, breaking down that self stigma I mentioned previous.

Wishing you peace and comfort.

Dan.

The Silent Skills

So much focus can be put on people’s ability to meet societies expectation of success. We see this all the time in academic and professional settings, such as exams, targets, etc.

Since the Covid-19 crisis disrupted the methods in which we work day to day, it has allowed us to develop some valuable qualities/skills, in my opinion, far more valuable than societal expectations.

We are all indirectly practicing resilience through ways we may not even notice. If you are reading this post, you have been resilient, as you have navigated your way through the current situation, and that is a quality that cannot be tested on an exam paper or measured in a boardroom.

Gratitude can be viewed as an emotion, but true gratitude allows us to analyse what’s truly important in our lives. Gratitude for me has allowed me to re-structure where my energy and stress goes, because let’s be real, we will all experience stress, but getting to choose what stress you want to deal with is, well in my opinion, very empowering. This crisis has allowed gratitude to flourish in communities. The key is to keep it sustained when this passes.

Empathy. Experiencing another human being expressing empathy towards you, can be like a big fuzzy hug for that particular stage of your wellbeing. Empathy is free and yet can offer such a rich sense of comfort and understanding to a persons life. This skill through my life has produced more rewards than anything I’ve experienced through college or a job.

It’s uncertain times for a lot of students, business’s & employees across our island. You see, it took me until the age of 32 to realise I was more than a grade, a sales figure, or a job interview. Allowing myself to connect with the above qualities/skills, funnily enough, led to more opportunities opening up in my life.

What would I tell my younger self?

Trust the process young man, moments in time or on paper will not define your ability.

Wishing you all peace and safety. Dan