I’ve been looking for cures for my panic attacks since I was mugged at gunpoint in the elevator of the building I lived in during my early twenties. It never occurred to me to go to the doctor for my attacks because I knew the reason why I was having them.
I had to confront the fear of leaving my home and the anxiety that doing this caused severe panic attacks. I never considered getting a Valium prescription and a pat on the cheek from my doctor a cure.
In case you’ve never had one, during an all out panic attack, you’re convinced you are going to die. My particular symptoms are:
- Shortness of breathe (actually hyperventilation)
- Rapid heart beat
- Rapid twitching of my eyelid
- Rapid twitching of my cheek
And yes, I’ve had panic attacks so severe that I’ve passed out. I was lucky enough to be young and as healthy as a horse or the adrenalin overload would have probably killed me.
Since being approached by strangers triggered my panic attacks, and I lived in Manhattan, I had big problems. I look like one of those totally reliable people that can give good directions. If there were twenty people on the street, I’d be the one approached by the out of town tourist for directions.
In Manhattan one learns to project a “touch me not” attitude. It’s something you learn how to do in a big city because of the amount of people you have to interact with everyday. Being mugged devastated my ability to do this. I had more men hit on me in the month after my mugging, than I had during the three years prior to it.
So, strangers equal danger equal panic attacks. An irrational reaction to a rational fear.
So, how did I find my panic attack cures?
And yes, I mean cures, because it was several things that helped me overcome daily attacks. I was lucky enough to have a BFF who had also been the victim of a violent crime. She gave me pointers as to what calmed her down enough able to function.
Panic Attacks Cures
Focus on Something Green and Growing
Parks, trees, grass and houseplants were a safe focus. For some reason staring at something green and growing let me create a “safe place” in my head. It worked enough that I took a small houseplant to my job for my desk. Having a focus helped stop flashbacks, which led to panic attacks.
Admit to Your Family and Friends that You Need Help
I was too paranoid to leave my house without someone being with me. If I did so on my own, I’d have a panic attack in the two blocks that it took to get me to the subway. I literally had someone walk me in and out of my building for six months.
I was also never without someone when I went out. Being able to deal with strangers – with a safety net in place - kept me a functioning socialized part of society. It also meant that if I started to have a panic attack, I had someone to tell me everything was going to be okay and to help me ride it out.
Don’t Be Afraid to Show Emotion in Public
Manhattan is a wonderful place to have a mini-nervous breakdown. Because of the rapid pace of city life and high stress of working in NYC it breads its own brand of crazies. Someone once told me that 95% of the people in Manhattan have had panic attacks. Therefore, if you feel the need to cry in public – do so. Most people will not react as long as you show them that you are not in physical distress.
If you live in a small town, and don’t wish to be labeled as “emotionally fragile,” learn where every public bathroom is and get your car windows tinted. Wear sunglasses, and claim allergies to pollen and perfume. You can always blame your teary eyes and runny nose on an allergic reaction.
If you’re having panic attacks, consider yourself physically as well as emotionally compromised. Anything that will negatively impact on your health will increase your chances of having a panic attack.
Live a Healthier Lifestyle
- Get at least eight hours of sleep
- Decrease the amount of alcohol that you drink
- Stop doing mind-altering drugs (X is a big no-no)
- Exercise, specifically Yoga, is beneficial in controlling panic attacks