Every now and then I feel a little “out of sorts” like there’s too much to do and not enough hours in the day to get it all done. I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, with what feels like an ever growing to-do list. I feel torn between the decision to do something enjoyable with my free time and actually doing what I need to do. I’m currently feeling “out of sorts”, a little lost, a lot distracted, and a tad vulnerable… I don’t have sign which says “Tread carefully” but perhaps I should.
Once upon time feeling “out of sorts” would send me into a tail spin, I’d shut down and revert to Bitch Mode snapping at people and shutting them down. I’d look for opportunities to make someone else feel as bad as I did, and that pass behaviour is something I regret. I know now that this feeling will pass, I just have to ride it out, and do what I need to stop things slipping any further. I am more aware now of what’s going on and what I need to do to feel secure and safe. My “out of sorts” feeling often reminds me of that moment just before pure mayhem strikes in the movies.
Once upon a time I’d survive practically holding my breath and hunching my shoulders. I’d wait for the day to be over so I could run home, and hide. This time around I’m making an effort to keep on keeping on, I’m visiting friends and heading to the Clevedon Farmers markets and still plodding away slowly with various to do lists. I’ve embraced the idea of calming cleansing deep breathing, and much to my surprise it does make me feel a little better.
It’s tricky though, with major uncertainty in some areas of my life it’s hard not to throw my hands up and run around in circle screaming, but I guess uncertain is what makes life…well life! I’ve learnt over the years how best to handle things like minor panic attacks*, uncertainty, major sudden change.
For the most part, it’s remembering to keep finding time for the activities that help me feel relaxed and calm. It’s okay for that to include watching telly… it’s not a crime to relax and I shouldn’t feel guilty for doing so.
How I handle Panic Attacks:
- Remind myself this is not life or death…. stay calm and try to remain rational.
- Remind myself this is a panic attack, and I’m not actually about to die.
- If I need to get out of the situation in order to feel better, then I do so.
- Panic attacks generally peak in terms of intensity at 4mins and last up to about 10mins, I remind myself it will soon be over.
- Take time to concentrate on my breathing, keeping it slow and steady. Breathing slowly in through my nose and out if slower through my mouth. When my abdomen moves in response to my breathing rather than my chest that’s when I know I’m achieving the right effect
- I fight the feelings, as this tends to make me panic more. Just patiently wait it out, it will pass.
- In order to stop my mind racing ahead and remind myself “just because I have a thought doesn’t make it true” I tend to when panicking internally find many faults with myself, and become my own worst enemy.
One of my scariest panic attacks happened on a night out with friends in my home town, I suddenly became extremely self conscious and concerned that the popular girls from high school (which was some time ago!) might see me and make fun of me (god only knows why). I worked myself up into state, and ended up sitting on the floor of toilet cubical literally pulling my hair and stifling back tears. Recognising I needed to get out of there, I calmed myself down as best I could and left. It was time to go home.
The problem was when all I wanted to do was go home, it proved impossible to get a taxi and the more I panicked the more unwanted attention from drunks I attracted. I walked down the main street for some time, trying to remain calm and still desperately trying to wave down a taxi. It was 3am and all I wanted to do was go home.
I had to do it. I’d never done it before it. I rang my Dad at 3:30am practically hysterical and ask him to come and pick me up. At over 27 years old I rang my Dad to rescue me… and of course he did.
The following morning I realised how important asking for help is, and how willing people actually are to give it. Asking for help is incredibly tricky but so is suffering in silence.
On my path to awesomeness I didn’t just stock up motivating quotes and tell myself to get over it, I recognised things (once again) weren’t right and that I was struggling. I made time to see my GP and have been prescribed medication, I followed the doctors instructions and after so many months when I hadn’t noticed a change I went back. I take my medication religiously and make sure I take time to relax as the doctor suggested. I’ve attended Psychology sessions focusing on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and am making sure I recognise and acknowledge when I’m feeling “out of sorts“.
If you do suffer panic attacks and haven’t seen a professional, I urge you to do so! I am clearly not a professional and anything I’ve written does not replace the advise of a professional.