Safe in Your Own Skin
How to Ground Yourself During a Panic Attack
A panic attack can happen anywhere, at any time. It does not discriminate. You don't have to be diagnosed with a mental health problem. You don't have to be a female. You don't have to be a male. You can be an adult, a teenager, or even a child. You can be any ethnicity. Panic happens, and it will come on unexpectedly. It can be triggered by a major event or the tiniest thing. The good news is, you won't die. I'm not going to lie. You will feel like you are dying.
The first time a person has a panic attack, they usually think that they are having a heart attack. They call 911 or go to the hospital. Then they find out that they are panicking. Most people will be confused about this because they have never experienced one. They may even be in denial about it. They may think that the doctor missed something. The truth is that normal people with no medical problems are dealing with this issue, even as I am writing this. It's becoming more of a problem every year.
If you have a panic attack, it will eventually subside. You may never have one again, or you may continue to have them. That is when it starts to become an issue and affect your life. Recurring panic attacks can lead to a disorder called Agoraphobia. This is the fear of the unknown. You start to think that you will panic at any given moment and you start changing how you normally live. You were once an active part of society, and now you have started canceling the plans you had, or calling into work. This is a downward spiral. I have been through all the icky parts of it. I will tell you that it's not a life sentence. You can overcome it and get your life back on track.
The first thing you should do is see your primary doctor. Share your experience with them and work from there. They may do some blood work to see if there is an underlying cause. This could range anywhere from high blood pressure to a thyroid disorder. They may also find that there is nothing wrong and you just need some life changes. This also can range anywhere from too much caffeine or sugar, to not enough sleep, or be overstressed. There are medications that will help if you experience a panic attack. These work very well, but not everyone likes to take medication. I am going to give you the secrets that I found very useful.
First, if you feel an attack coming on, recognize the symptoms and move into positive action. Look around yourself and remind yourself that you are safe. Change your current thinking. By this, I mean start doing something else. Grab your phone and play a game. Call a friend or family member. If you are at home, wash the dishes or some other chore. You are basically rewiring your brain. If this doesn't seem to be working, then that's where the medication can step in and help.
If you have gotten to a point in your life that you are scared to go places because of the threat of a panic attack, these are some good ideas that helped me. I would have someone else drive and I would focus on something other than the fear of an attack. I put together a safe bag. I stocked it with water and a snack. A crossword puzzle book. A coloring book and crayons. A writing tablet and of course my phone. These simple items helped me regain my life.
I was so sick that I didn't leave my house for six months. I thought that there was no hope for a normal life again. I finally said to myself, "enough of this." I started doing everything I have shared with you and eventually, I was gaining strength in myself. It wasn't easy, but I did it. I am at a point in my life now that I don't need my safe bag. I am driving my own car and I am living my life again. I am not going to sugar coat it. I do always wonder if that dreaded panic attack will show its ugly face again, but if it does, I know how to ground myself and get over it. I hope that this information has helped in some way. This is a very real thing that is happening to good people and we are strong enough to defeat it.