Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What NOT to do when fear smacks you in the face....

Last Saturday I shared this post with you, all about going out there and living life rather than stalling. I stand by it, but it's only fair to say that by Sunday, as I started to try and put some of my dreams into action I completely lost the plot.
Fear rose inside me with every click of the mouse button. Rather than stop, I stubbornly forced myself to find out as much as I could about what steps I needed to take to realise my ambitions. Despite the fact with each snippet of info I became more and more frightened, frustrated and confused.
So how did it turn out facing my fears? Well, awfully. Instead of sleeping like a rational person, I worked myself up to the point where I had a full blown panic attack. If you haven't had one (And I hadn't until Sunday circa midnight), you feel like you might be suffocating, your heart beats in your chest like it's reverberating throughout your whole body and your mind is racing with irrational thoughts.
So what do you do when fear overwhelms you? Well, to start with, avoid everything that I tried to help calm myself down.
1. Definitely DON'T allow yourself to keep panting like you've run a marathon. Your body needs to calm down and the only way you can do this is through slowing down your breathing. I know this because I have had actual anxiety training before. If you breath in for 7 seconds and then out slowly for 10 you regulate your breaths. Do that and it will slow down your heartbeat. I tried it three times. You need to do this until it works; keep at it!
2. Absolutely DON'T keep reading information to try and counteract the information you already have. While it may sound logical to reassure yourself, it isn't. You're tired, emotionally crippled and not thinking straight. Instead, slow down your breathing and distract yourself until you're a sane person again. Speaking to a friend might help, just not at 1AM.
3. Really, really DON'T grab yourself a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate as it normally calms you down. Your body is likely to still be in 'fight or flight' mode, the last chemical it needs is any form of caffeine. Instead, try water. It is likely part of the throbbing head you are experiencing is dehydration.
4. Avoid AT ALL COSTS sending emotional texts or emails until you have fully calmed down. People say a problem shared is a problem halved. I think this may apply to rational problems. If you cannot make sense to yourself yet, you probably won't make much sense to anyone else either. Give yourself time to calm down.
5. Avoid AS BEST YOU CAN thinking about the worst case scenario. Life is unpredictable. You can only plan so much. At one (very low) point early Monday morning, I had painted a very bleak picture of a life destitute in my head. Even if everything I want in life comes true, there is nothing stopping this from happening. Try your best to accept you have about 50% control over your life. At some point you just have to jump.
So what did I learn from handling my first, full-scale panic, apart from how NOT to behave when fear attacks?
I learnt that I have some amazing blog friends who can offer unconditional support; that I am perhaps too idealistic about what I can achieve sometimes and most importantly, that I have the most loving, amazing, patient boyfriend in the world.  Time will only tell if I can find a work-around for some of the issues I unearthed. Now is not the time to do it: I'm too tired and emotional.
So with that in mind, I'm off to eat a pile of sweets and plan a poetry competition. Happy Wednesday people!
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Natasha V said...

I definitely agree with keeping electronics away from you. I see some pretty emotional text messages being sent this way.

SpiritedLife said...

I'm sorry to hear you've had a panic attack. I've never had one, but have witnessed a few. It's tough to watch the person go through that pain.

I hope that you are feeling better. Have you broached your goals again?

Thanks for stopping by

Ellen said...

Never underestimate your impact on the world...or at least one person. Today I feel like this was written for me and me alone. Sounds selfish huh? Lots of crap going on at work, lots of negativity, feeling stuck and like maybe I should cut my losses and move on. Anyway, I am so sorry for your loss. Prayers coming your way.

Lieke said...

First of all: Keep Calm and take a Breathe. And secondly DON'T do shopping! That is the worst thing you can do :)

Cocalores said...

I'm glad you're feeling better now - I guess sometimes fear just grabs you and all the normal coping mechanisms we have acquired don't help. Your list is definitely help the next person who has this happen to them. =)


ifs ands Butts said...

Oh gosh great advice - I am the WORST about #2 haha, dang internet

A Proverbs 31 Wife said...

But why is it, when we are in the middle of fear that every single one of those things you mentioned seem like the most logical thing to do at the moment? lol
Never had a panic attack, but the anxiety attacks are bed enough.

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