Today let’s talk about returning to the scene of a panic attack. We’ve all had to do this, after all…
Here is a recent conversation I had on Facebook about this:
Yay Michelle, way to go!
A few weeks ago, I had an episode of multiple severe panic attacks as I started working an extra shift at work in a different department.
After it was behind me, I got my butt in gear and worked hard to get my thoughts back on track.
It’s been going well for a couple of weeks. I have been quite happy with my progress and recovery from it all.
And then out of the blue on the night before working yet another shift in that department where I panicked, I had a horrific night of tossing and turning.
I fretted and sweated. My mind kept playing tricks on me, telling me I would panic again. I could not calm down. When I finally did sleep, for about 2 hours, I had nightmares. I woke up feeling terrible…
I went in to work, so tired from my night of doing battle with racing thoughts.
Much to my relief, aside from being tired as hell, I felt absolutely fine. Not a trace of anxiety. In fact, I looked back and couldn’t believe this was what kept me up all night.
Here I was, back in the very place where only weeks ago I had had a massive ongoing panic attack.
Sitting there at work, trying to mark it in my head so that I can remember this- how fine and normal I felt, as well as how very un-frightening it was there…Taking everything in and just feeling the sensations of being calm and relaxed, right in the very place I had such severe anxiety not too long ago.
This I feel is very important.
When I was younger, whenever I returned to a place or situation that caused anxiety, I would just be in the space all tensed up and waiting for the panic to come back. (And I often got my wish.) This happened constantly throughout college in the lecture halls I had to sit in every day.
It happened every time I went to church, every time I went to the hairdresser’s… etc. I think the “mental tensing up” perpetuated the cycle of ongoing panic attacks
So you must give your brain a new thought pattern to remember. For me I’m in that nursing station literally training myself to think differently about the situation.
It’s nice here. The people are so kind. It isn’t threatening at all. There is nothing to be intimidated or anxious about….Look at me, I’m relaxed and doing well. I’m even happy. Can’t believe this is what kept me up last night…I am absolutely fine..This is great!…
I looked back at myself the night before so filled with fear and I felt a lot of empathy and compassion.
It is important to remember that after a panic attack, you may be traumatized for awhile.
After this panic experience at work, I have been using all my anxiety self help tools to get myself back on track.
And while it has been working, obviously I’m still jarred by the whole thing or I wouldn’t have been up all night with worry.
But it’s all good. I’m taking it all in and seeing it as my body’s way of coping and healing.
The takeaway from all this is to remember to keep using your tools after a panic attack. Know that your body and mind may take awhile to synch and really recover after the trauma of it all.
When you go back into a situation that made you anxious, prepare beforehand, instead of just tensing up and hoping you don’t panic.
Give yourself all the time you need to heal, knowing that even with preparation, you may still be freaked out about the whole thing for awhile.
Just roll with it to the best of your ability…
And then really love yourself, knowing you are that much stronger for sticking it out and returning to the scene of a panic attack.
I wish you peace,