I’ve been feeling really, really good lately in as far as handling my social anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. So when I had two major incidents last week where I backslid with anxiety, I felt hugely disappointed.
And then this morning I got my period, and it all kinda made sense. I don’t know if there’s any medical evidence linking panic attacks and menstruation, but I can say with certainty that the premenstrual phase can really bring out my worst anxiety symptoms.
The thing is, when I’m not aware of what part of the month it is, and then I have a major setback after so much progress in my anxiety recovery, it feels like A- like I’m never, ever going to get better B- that I’m actually getting worse. I know neither of these statements are true, but those automatic negative thoughts just pop up.
A few days ago I went to a step class at the gym and there was a line outside the classroom door. One of my neighbors was there. This lady used to be a panic attack trigger for me, but lately and especially after going to the lunch last week, I have been pretty cool with being in her presence.
Well, standing there that morning, you never would have known I had made so much progress with my anxiety self help efforts. We were having polite conversation, nothing heavy, and I was literally having wave after wave of panic. I must have had 3 in a row. It sucked. I also couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do to diffuse the panic because my mind went blank. I did have the good sense not to go running out the door (even though I felt like it bad). I forced myself to stay put.
Once the door opened and we were able to go into the class, my muscles felt like jello. That was the aftermath from standing there trying to look normal while making small talk while simultaneously having severe panic attacks. I was also hypersensitive throughout most of the class, feeling like all eyes were on me. I knew this wasn’t true, but it felt mighty uncomfortable. Thankfully I forced myself to stay for the entire class.
When I was driving home I remembered something I read about fear. I can’t quote it but the author said something like when you are in a state of panic, you lose all short term memory. (!!) Well, that would explain why I couldn’t remember what to do when I was standing there talking to the neighbor.
The next day at my Al-Anon meeting, the room was filled to capacity, and it started to bother me. I didn’t bolt from the room, but I had to pass when it was my turn to share. Again, I felt the symptoms of anxiety and my mind went blank. I could not remember what I was supposed to do in order to stop the crappy feelings. This is a room filled with freinds and really really nice people, so I was really disappointed and down on myself that I didn’t’ share how I was feeling.
It only occurred to me why I was having these setbacks this morning when I got my period. I would have to say for me there definitely is a strong link between panic attacks and menstruation, or at least that I am more vulnerable to panic attacks during that time.
The other reason I feel this is true is that I feel better overall now that I have my period. I was feeling soooo despondent over my recent lackluster job search, and hypersensitive/offended about some stupid thing my sister-in-law did. All this petty nonsense about bullshit, along with my bitchiness and moodiness- poof: GONE.
Sorry for all this talk about periods to any guys that may be reading this. But if you have wives or girlfriends with anxiety and panic attacks, it could be helpful for you to understand the possible link between panic attacks and menstruation.
Ok, so I have this new information. What am I going to do with it?
It’s not enough for me to just know this about myself- that I’m more at risk for anxiety pre- period– I want to make sure next month is better. This is my plan:
I’m going to KEEP IT SIMPLE. Simple as pie. I have to. If I am starting to panic and my mind fails me, I have to be able to know what to do. I’m going to sear into my mind what to do to stop panic attacks (and I suggest you do the same):
- I’m going to mark my calendar so I know when I’m in the pre-menstrual phase. Awareness is huge. If I can say, “Oh yeah, it’s nearing that time of the month, time for me to be on guard”- I know I won’t be blindsided like I was this month.
- I’m going to listen to my anxiety self help audios before I start my day. If you have a favorite anxiety help book, get it out and re-read it as many times as you have to. You can also bookmark the Anxiety Tips & Help page here and refer to it as much as you need to.
- And if panic happens to strike, I’m going to remember to Face, Accept, Float, and Let Time Pass. (This is from Peace from Nervous Suffering and also from my Anxiety Self help Road Map.)
- I will force myself to share about it. Sharing troubles always cuts them in half, as the old saying goes. So I’m sharing with all you here, and I also called my friend Danielle this morning and spilled my guts. It felt good.
How about you? Do you notice a correlation between panic attacks and menstruation?
I wish you peace,
Looking for an effective anxiety elimination program? Are you ready to take action? I recommend the Anxiety Self Help Road Map. Please get started today and reclaim your life from fear.