You’ve probably seen on this blog that I like to complain about things, a lot. If not complaining, I’m reviewing something, or talking about something or something something about something. One thing you probably have come across, a few years back, if you have read that far back (I will not judge you if you have not), are my posts about that time I had a really bad chest infection and thanks to my asthma, I ended up in hospital for like a week, over Christmas, whilst I tried to recover on their God awful food, and the weird staff and terribly crap way of showing someone who has asthma to hold on for not 10 minutes but 5 hours. But this post isn’t about that. This post is about the other crap that comes, sometimes with asthma. The one and only anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks.
I actually can remember my first time I had a panic attack and it wasn’t even something remotely cool tbh. Come to think about it, it embarrasses me that I will admit this. I was at a house party, at 16, when I was at college, and only really known as Pink Trouser girl (don’t judge me), dating a total douche bag, who obviously was in a band, who invited me and my fellow nerdy friends to a house party in Heston. I lied to my mum and told her I was staying at a friends’ house. I wanted to be cool, but I really wasn’t. I was just naive and stupid, clearly. Everyone was being cool, hanging out with each other, listening to music, making out, jamming, playing bass, singing, drinking or smoking weed. Coz why the fuck not, we’re 16, there’s no parents, that’s what all teens do, isn’t it? I don’t smoke weed. I can’t. I turn into some barbie nightmare, of giggling fits, paranoia and pass out, all of those either before or after throwing up. That night, I thought it was somewhat a great idea of ‘let’s be cool around the cool people’ and sit in a room of people smoking weed, because again, seriously why the fuck not?! I wasn’t born with asthma, actually that came a year or so after this panic, but it sure did change my whole family’s views on just about anything.
Anyway, back to where I was before. We were all chilling out, giggling away, passing around that joint, it came to me and I pulled on it. I didn’t like it, but because all eyes were on me and I didn’t want to look like an idiot, I puffed a few more times on it. Honestly it was disgusting. Nasty as! We went outside and I swear my chest felt like a child was jumping up and down on my chest, then clutching at my airways in the process, shaking every living and breathing self of mine out of me. It was terrifying. I wanted to call my mum, but knew she would kill me and most definitely did not want to go down that path. Thankfully someone had a blue salbutamol inhaler on them and after a lot of calming down, breathe Dannii, FFS breathe, that was the last I really remember of that night.
After that little episode, I didn’t really get another one for a few months. But seeing as my family have history of chest problems, it was always going to come up with the doctor when I’d go for a check up. See, I was diagnosed with asthma way before I was even given the prognosis that it was a panic attack. I wasn’t even sure that that time was a panic attack. I thought it was me being a dumbass paranoid kid who smoked a bit of pot and I couldn’t tell the difference. See, that was the worst. When I got my pumps when I turned 17, after a lengthy hospital appointment about allergies and all that crap, I was told it was asthma. So I was completely unaware the difference between the two for years. Worse even, if I had both of them today. Panicking because I couldn’t breathe. That was a freakstorm. Something, also, I noticed worried a heck of a lot of people when I started to black out or not be ‘in the room’ anymore.
It’s one of the scariest things to have happen to you. The prospect of it happening in public is a nightmare. I haven’t had one for a while, in public, I mean, but it’s enough to make you never want to leave your house again. I had one a few months back, but thankfully had a friend on the phone who calmed me down.
I can go for weeks, months or even years, without one and not feel like it affects me at all, but one small thing and boom, it’s triggered again. Anything can trigger it. ANYTHING. I’m not going to go into some spiritualist, I can cure the world bullshit on how to prevent panic attacks, but I will share a few things I’ve picked up along the way that has certainly helped me over the years to decrease the number of panic attacks I have per year. If it helps, great. if not, check out NHS.
What is a panic attack?
Panic attacks often start during times of higher than normal stress in life. It could be a build-up of many things. The high ‘background stress’ can ‘overspill’ into a panic.
How to deal with a panic attack
- Annoying as it may sound, panic attacks are all in the the mind. A panic attack can be frightening, a really uncomfortable experience, but it is absolutely 1000% not dangerous. It’s a state of mind, not an illness.
- You’re not alone. It may feel like it, well, it does, plenty of times, but you’re not alone. So many people, have panic or anxiety attacks. Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times during their lifetime. It’s a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations.
At least one in 10 people experience occasional panic attacks, which are usually triggered by a stressful event. Panic disorder is where a person has recurring and regular panic attacks. In the UK, it affects about two in 100 people, and it’s about twice as common in women as it is in men.
- Panic is just excess adrenaline that runs through you body when it’s confronted with a possible life-threatening situation that can also be caused by something that’s triggered in an event from your past that placed you in a threatening situation. It’s all physiological. Annoyingly. It can be scary, but the feels you have, is just your body telling you to stand up and fight or run away from potential danger. Calming yourself down and allowing yourself to breathe, helps your body to protect your mind.
- If you’re unsure about whether or not if you have anxiety or panic attacks, go see a doctor. It doesn’t hurt to ask. They can advise your next steps.
- Speak to people. It may seem daft to you, but speaking to people, friends or family, or people down the pub, gets it off your chest and you’ll be surprised how understanding and supportive people will be. It’s so common these days that a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend or whichever has had some form of anxiety at some point in their lives. Don’t be afraid. It’s normal!
Just remember, Professor Paul Salkovskis, a psychologist at King’s College London, says it’s important not to let your fear of panic attacks control you. .
Panic attacks always pass and the symptoms are not a sign of anything harmful happening,” he says. “It’s important not to restrict your movements and daily activities.
If I’ve missed anything out, or you would like to add to it, please comment below.