WORKING THROUGH MY FIRST PANIC ATTACK
APRIL 19, 2018
Mannnnn oh mannn you guys.
This is something that I definitely never thought I'd be writing about. I honestly didn't know if I was going to be able to write about it at all because the thought of it would start to speed up my heart rate but it's been about a week now since it happened and I think I'm feeling better...or at least good enough to talk about it. HA, we'll see if I can get through this post....
So have any of you ever had a panic attack before?
I never had. I've had anxiety here and there but not to the point where it was debilitating. Panic attacks and anxiety attacks are apparently different so to jump from having a little anxiety every now and then to having a full blown panic attack was terrifying.
So as a lot of you know - over the last few months, my schedule has been really insane. Waking up at 5:30 am 5-6 days out of the week, working late nights anywhere from 3-5 nights a week and then going to school, working out, and health coaching in between.
MAY 3, 2018
Haha, sooo apparently I wasn't ready to write about it. I got that far before I started to feel my chest getting tight and I had to get out of the house. Since my panic attack happened while I was home alone, I couldn't STAND to be home alone. It happened at night though so I thought I could deal with being alone in the middle of the day which was when I was writing that last post.
My boyfriend mentioned that he was going to go run some errands which I figured would be fine, but as I heard him getting ready and getting closer to leaving, I started to get more and more tense sooooo here we are 3 weeks later.
BUT, GOOD NEWS!
I'm currently home alone now and I'm A OKAY.
I still wanted to come back to this post though because when I started talking about it on Insta - I got a lot of feedback from you guys talking about how you've had them before and you were happy that someone was talking about it.
I was so surprised to find that SO many people around me that I talk to on a regular basis have had them too! It was really comforting for me during that time because after the attack, I honestly felt so scared because I had experienced the feeling of actually losing my mind.
So if you've never had a panic attack before, I think it's important to know about what can trigger it, and what may happen during the attack.
BEFORE PANIC ATTACK (THURSDAY)
For me, I was severely sleep deprived. BUT silly me wanted to get work done so I had a double shot of espresso with a teaspoon of a new product this company sent me. The nickname for the product is "dopamine bean" and the serving size was a 1/4 of a teaspoon. I thought it was like any other product I have - something that would just give me some energy so I had some, but I had a teaspoon. No biggie I thought.
I think like 45 minutes went by before it was 8:30pm and I was STILL friggin EXHAUSTED. That was when I said screw this and got ready for bed.
I laid in bed, home alone, and tried to fall asleep. I couldn't get comfortable, I couldn't relax my mind and I kept feeling hot and then cold. So I turned on a meditation that I typically LOVE but it was annoying me SO bad.
UGH. WHAT THE HELL, I thought.
Then I figured I would take a little hit from this weed pen that a friend gave me. I typically can't smoke because it makes me paranoid but I had had this one before and it was very helpful in times that I couldn't fall asleep.
So, I hit that twice really quick and laid back down. I think maybe one minute passed before the combination of the coffee, dopamine bean, weed and sleep deprivation hit me and I JOLTED up in fear that I was in sleep paralysis.
DURING PANIC ATTACK
I was terrified and had to get out of my bed IMMEDIATELY. I turned on all the lights and felt my heart pounding against my chest at what felt like 300 miles an hour.
Then this is where I started really going downhill and I felt very nervous and VERY vulnerable to tell anyone what I was thinking during the next hour BUT once I finally told one person, they were able to relate, and then suddenly I realized that everyone I spoke to who had had a panic attack was able to relate and I found a lot of comfort in that.
So - I willlll tell you.
Once the panic attack started happening I felt like both sides of my brain were communicating with me EXTREMELY FAST. It was like non stop thoughts back and forth over and over and over and AND OVER AND over again for the next hour.
One side of me would think, just BREATHE, you're having a panic attack, call a friend, it's okay, everything will be fine.
And then this is where it was scary.
The other part of my brain was thinking, hurt yourself. Jump off the balcony, Do something insane. Don't have anyone over. Don't talk to anyone. You WANT to hurt yourself.
It was absolute HELL.
I couldn't understand why I was thinking such insane thoughts. I couldn't understand why this was happening to me.
I called my boyfriend but he was at work and then ended up calling my friend in SD. While I was talking to her my legs started shaking uncontrollably and I had to lie in bed. I wanted to feel like I had someone with me so I asked her to stay on the phone with me but I honestly didn't feel like talking much. I was SO hot then SO cold and couldn't stop shaking so that was making it hard to speak anyways.
My friend was trying to be as helpful as possible by just asking me questions and telling me about her day but I actually didn't want to answer questions or feel like I had to listen to stories. Again - IT SUCKED.
While we were on the phone my boyfriend called me back (this is probably like 30 minutes into the attack) and he tried to get me to calm down and asked me if I wanted our friend to come over.
Part of me was thinking YES. YES please hurry, I need someone here before I go insane, get them over here asap.
The other part of me (and yes I realize this is crazy) was thinking NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. You can't even stand to walk to the door of your room, how are you going to walk all the way downstairs, through the parking lot and to the front to let someone in? What if you do something crazy. What if they start annoying you and you tell them to leave? Then what happens from there?
Mind you - this was all the thoughts going on in my head. Meanwhile I'm not saying anything more than "uh...um...I don't...maybe.." to my boyfriend. He was about to tell me to text him if I decide what I wanedt to do before I finally managed to blurt out "YES, get Steph over here. Hurry".
Stephanie is a good friend of ours and she did everything right. Before coming over she googled "how to talk to a person having a panic attack" where she realized that she needed to be veryyy calm, and not judgmental at all. She nailed it haha.
I managed to take 7 big deep breaths while I was putting my shoes on and walked to meet her (slowly) at the front of the apartment where I like leached on to her, haha poor thing. She noticed how much I was shaking because we talked about it later but she didn't mention it when she was walking back up with me.
She asked me where I wanted to chill and made me some calming tea and turned the tv on for me. We kept the lights off because that felt too aggressive for me and she kind of just told me in a really calm way that she was there for whatever I needed and then didn't try to spark up conversation.
That was the best.
It was like 10:00pm by the time I was able to eat a little something and feel myself relax. It was like taking my first big deep breathe in months then letting it out and feeling SOOOOOOOOO exhausted.
AFTER THE PANIC ATTACK
I felt like I came out of a crazy ass dream. Again I was just sooo effing tired. I mean, I was already tired before the whole episode even started so you can imagine how I felt after. I was able to start having actual conversations with Steph without feeling like I was tense or out of breath and then we both calmed down over a glass of red wine which was THHHE BEST.
THE NEXT DAY (FRIDAY)
I felt far from myself. I was VERY irritable, and then happy, and then irritable, and then tired, then REALLY TIRED. I was forcing myself to get in the sun and walk along the beach just for the purpose of raising my endorphins but all that ended up happening was me forcing myself to smile, avoiding eye contact with people and wondering when I would feel normal again.
I even went and got a burger and an aperol spritz and read my book by the beach because I figured that would be a form of treating myself and feeling good, which it did! But by the time I was driving to work which was only about an hour later - I was down again, and stayed that way for the rest of the night.
2 days following the panic attack I was with my boyfriend all day and I felt like I found this new form of happiness that would never leave. I felt like not only was I back to myself BUT I knew what losing my mind felt like versus being in control and I knew that as long as I never had to feel out of control again, that every single day would be amazing.
I was like on a high this day. SO SO SO happy and I part of me was thinking it would last for forever haha BUUUT it didn't.
(I promise this story is almost over).
Sunday is important to talk about because this is where I learned that it is possible to have minor panic attacks again after a big one for up to 1-2 weeks. The day was amazing again, just like Saturday. During the evening though I found myself home, alone, and THOUGHT that everything was great. I had some food, watched some TV, and was trying to get myself to relax. Around 6:00 pm I went onto my balcony to write in my journal and before I could even write the date, I realized I was in the same setting I was during the attack.
It was quiet, I was home alone, and I before I knew it by heart started racing and I felt like the walls were caving in. I literally just picked up my book and my journal, threw on some shoes, grabbed my keys and bolted out of my house.
We have a huge park right next to us so I went there and tried journaling, didn't help.
I walked around the track - didn't help. At this point it was getting dark and they were starting to turn the park lights off and the thought of going back to my house was basically debilitating.
I hate feeling like I'm bothering anything or in the way but I felt like I had no other option than to ask Steph again if I could come to her place and just stay with her until my boyfriend got home. To be honest - I was so shaken up that I had a couple shots when I first got there that I feel like helped me calm down a little bit but I didn't feel the lease bit intoxicated. My mind was still wandering and I was feeling frustrated at this point.
AS THE DAYS WENT ON.
People that had experienced attacks were telling me that I can't keep running from it, which I knew but it was just so damn hard. They told me to avoid things that might trigger the same feelings as the attack so exercise had to be light in order not to raise my heart rate, coffee should be avoided, drinking should be avoided, and I just needed to rest.
SO, at this point, about three weeks later, I would say I'm feeling 100% better. I just wanted to share this with you guys so you know what to expect, what to do, and what to be aware of after the attack.
Feel free to share your story below!