I had a really bad panic attack experience this weekend which I will share so that I can show you how I cope after a panic attack.
I attended a dreaded bridal shower this past Sunday. I really worked myself up into a panic lather about the whole thing. I actually didn’t even realize how much this was affecting me until 24 hours after the shower, when I finally was able to calm down.
I built this shower up in my mind to be something much bigger than it was. It was held by casual acquaintances and neighbors. The block I live on has a clique, just like high school.(Yay) Of course I’m not in the clique and don’t want to be. It’s really crazy to grow up and be in your 40’s and realize that most people never leave that high school mentality.
While I don’t want to be in the clique, the sense of belonging and camaraderie would have been a plus for me with my social anxiety. Oh yeah and 2 of the girls in the clique do not like me, which made me feel even more self conscious. Coupled with that was the knowledge that the night after this event, my plan was to further decrease my Klonopin. In retrospect, I really put too much pressure on myself.
I felt completely ‘naked’ and vulnerable going to this event– I brought no ‘just in case’ Xanax with me. Heck I didn’t even bring my phone. My husband did his best to help me see that this was just a few hours of my life and that I would get through it. But this was one of those instances where I let my anxiety get the better of me.
I was highly sensitized for the whole shower, and it was really difficult for me to make the requisite small talk. I was so focused on how weird I felt, and I was trying my damnedest to appeal normal, whatever the heck that is. I was shaking and having a hard time with my balance. My heart was racing and I was sweating profusely. Wave after wave of panic went through me. I swear I could feel the adrenaline coursing though my veins.
The next morning I noticed I was still obsessing and scrutinizing my poor performance at the shower. I didn’t feel back to ‘myself’ until about midday into the day.
Let’s be completely clear: I did all this to myself. There was no one at the shower who was overtly mean to me. Everyone was pleasant and nice enough. I was just freaked out of my mind from days of anticipatory anxiety and the knowledge that I would be attending a social event without my bottled courage, ie, Klonopin and Xanax.
How I Cope After a Panic Attack
Well the first thing was I had to let myself feel my feelings. I needed to completely accept that I had worked myself up and that I felt really bad about it. I let myself have a good cry, as my emotions were running high. But I was careful not to get on the pity pot. That is a danger zone for me that can lead to depression. So I set a time limit for the cry and after about 20 minutes, I took a shower and then got busy by making dinner for my family.
It was necessary to actually sit down and process my feelings. Laying in bed that evening I wrote in my journal about the experience. Writing out my experiences with panic attacks on paper is really therapeutic. It also marks the event, so that I can see my progress as time goes by.
It was necessary for me to reach out and share about my severe panic attacks. I did this on forums where I feel safe, and in real life with my Al-Anon group. My friends love and support me unconditionally. Their kind words and prayers carry me through my darkest hours with panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.
My friends were quick to point out that I was being really hard on myself and to give myself a break. After all I am only human having real human emotions. I really needed to hear this 😉
I brushed myself off and just kept on living
I was able to see that I was crippling myself with regret about my behavior at the shower, which was now past. Before the shower I was crippling myself with negative projections about the future. I realized I needed to let all these feelings go, and just live fully in the present.
This morning there was a dog to be walked, kids to get off to school, and a life to be lived. The woman living this life is powerful, competent and courageous. She is living a life of quality and purpose.
I know this much is true: I may have setbacks, but I am still recovering. I am now 75% off my Klonopin and it is a beautiful snowy day out. Thank you God for this wonderful life 🙂
I wish you peace,