Surviving – Panic attacks.

As most of my readers will know, the past six to eight months have been kind of hellish for me. I’ve gone through, even for me, extreme physical illness, but on top of that so many issues related to my childhood sexual abuse have cropped up, that I have literally feared for my sanity at times.

Without going in to too much gory detail I have been dealing for months with almost constant heightened anxiety, and almost daily panic attacks. This is the first time I’ve had to deal with panic attacks as a whole, and competent adult. And you know what? I’ve learned a lot from them.

I’ve learned just how freaking strong I am; very.

How fragile that strength actually is; also very.

All the different things that trigger waves of anxiety or panic for me; so frikkin many things.

But the most important things I’ve learned are the different tricks which have helped me to at least gain a semblance of control over my own emotions.

Please note; these work well for me, they may or may not help you (though I truly hope they will), but what is lost by trying?

1: Baby powder.

I never would have expected this when I started out trying to find ways to rebalanced myself, but the smell of baby powder has an immensely calming effect on me. I suspect this is because I was well looked after as a baby, and the tiny part of me that remembers something of that time associates the scent of baby powder with being safe. Now, I don’t want to come off as a sales rep for Yankie Candles, but they do baby powder scented candles, and wax tablets. I can not recommend the tablets in particular enough. I make a point of carrying one with me most of the time when I’m out and about, so that if I feel a panic coming on I can take it out, sniff, and have at least a little help.

2: A big ass teddy-bear.

Okay, bear with me on this one…*pauses for moans to stop*…anyway. I live with someone, duh, I mention them all the time on my blog. But even so I have to spend time alone. Work, family, loves, babysitting all eat into my time with my Partner-in-Crime. Which is actually pretty cool most of the time. I like some time to myself, time to do messy projects, or listen to loud obnoxious music, or play XBox. But it also means that often I’m alone when a panic attack hits.

This is a problem, because one of the things that helps me to get through a panic faster is being held. Thing is though, teddy-bears have arms, and legs, and heads. They’re kind of us shaped, and mine is so fluffy I could die!

(I’m just gonna leave this clip right here, it’ll be important in a while.)

And cuddling it when I’m panicking helps, a lot. I feel calmer as soon as I hold Marshmallow (What can I say? He’s big, and fluffy, and soft, and white.), and the tighter I squeeze him the better I feel. Again I think it’s a kiddy thing coming back and calming the ageless emotions lying under an adult mind.

3: Talk to an animal.

I own two doggies, Winter and Lulu-Belle.

They’re soft, warm, fluffy, and smell comforting in that doggy way. They make me feel loved, and wanted, and needed. They look after me when I fall apart. And they’re great listeners, not that they really have much choice. So for me when the choice is between curling into a ball, and shrieking from emotional pain because there’s no humans around, or telling my problems to my loving puppies, I’ll pick the puppies every, single, time.

Thing is it doesn’t have to be your dog, or even a dog, or even alive. Even writing down how you feel is better than not expressing it at all. But I have to say talking it out with Winter when I’m in serious emotional trouble has saved my sanity on many, many days. As my Partner-in-Crime has said many times of late, I’m not sure I would have found the way back up in to the light without them. I’d be lost with out my furry-kids.

4: A happy place, needn’t be a place.

Remember that video above? I said I’d get back to it. It’s from Despicable Me, one of the funniest, and funnest movies I’ve ever seen. And also strangely calming to me. It’s one of my happy places. I can watch it anywhere, and feel safer. It’s not my only happy place, that isn’t a place either. Another two are musical, and pretty kick ass.

My puppies are another. My Partner-in-Crimes arms are another. It takes experimentation to figure them out, but everyone has some, and how you know that they’re real happy places, and not just a gopher-hole to bury your head in is simple. They’re not destructive to you in any way. This is why alcohol isn’t one.

5: Asking for help is a good thing.

I take 10mgs of Amitryptoline twice a day. It’s a tiny dose of a very old fashioned anti-depressant. But it’s just enough to let me view my day-to-day anxieties objectively, and to blunt my panics just a little. I don’t want to have them blanketed by a chemical haze, I want to learn to cope with them, and maybe, eventually, if it’s possible to eliminate them. But I wouldn’t have even that tiny dose of chemical help if I hadn’t asked for help from my GP to start with.

I work with a really good therapist. He’s helped me to recognise some of my triggers, some of my coping mechanisms, but mostly he’s listened to me when I needed an impartial human ear. But again I had to ask for help.

You don’t need to spend every day in anxiety, or panic, or fearful of dreams. There’s help out there if you just let someone know you need it. It’s a good thing, and as far as I’m concerned is the first real step in recovering your stability.

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