I am sure that this is not going to be my last post with this same title. Over the years that we have been dealing with Anxiety we have realized that HC has different types of ANXIETY. This makes it hard to pick my top ways to help because she deals with different types of anxiety in different ways. This post will be discussing the anxiety of what I will call The Dreaded Panic Attack.
Any time we are having to wait for something to happen there is some level of anxiety. But there are times when this is more than her regular anxiety. It can be a waiting room in a doctor’s office. It can be waiting in a line in the grocery store. It can even be waiting for a return text message. There is no warning most times and there does not appear to be any particular trigger that we can identify.
I can always tell when it starts to hit her. She starts getting very antsy and fidgety and often times her cheeks get red and her breathing changes. She is about to head into a full-blown panic attack.
The Chest Pain
The best way to describe how she is feeling is pretty much like having all the symptoms of a classic heart attack. The first few times we thought she was going to need the emergency room. I had a friend a few years back that also had panic attacks and although they were a little different from HCs I recognized the symptoms.
The hard part as a caregiver/supporter is convincing someone who is having a panic attack that are not going to die. She feels as if she has an elephant sitting on her chest and she can’t breathe.
For someone who has never had a panic attack (like myself) it has been a hard road to try to figure out the how’s and the why’s of exactly what happens during an anxiety or panic attack. The easiest answer for me as a non-professional is everybody is different and no one really knows.
I used to think that if I just distracted her from whatever it was she was dealing with it would just subside. I am kinda a relatively funny person by nature. I like to laugh and make others laugh. Whenever my kids were sad or had a situation that in my opinion was not worth wasting time crying over I would try to make them laugh. Usually that works.
THIS IS NOT THE TIME FOR HUMOR.
I had to learn the hard way. The more I would try to distract the worse she would get and the more frustrated I would get because I AM MOM… I fix things. It took many long conversations afterwards and many therapy sessions to realize that in this particular situation we DO NOT DISTRACT!
We have learned over time to just deal with the moment. Embrace the panic attack. As hard as it sounds it has had the best outcome we could hope for when the panic attacks happen.
The breathing is a huge component of HCs panic attacks. She often would go into a full-blown hyperventalating episode that can scare the crap out of her and whoever happens to be around her at the time. In the early days when she would feel an attack coming on she would go off and hide. If she was at work she would go into the restroom and lock the door. If she was home she has been found sitting in a corner on the floor. I have found her in some really awful states.
Embrace the panic attack. Such an odd statement. But we have found this to be so true in her situation. One must keep in mind that I am not a professional therapist and I am only passing on what we have found to work in our home. Please seek help if you find you or your loved one has issues that go beyond a place you feel comfortable.
Breathing exercises are a part of our world when times are good so that when the bad times come we are ready to go into action. It is kinda like those fire drills you had in school when you were a kid. Always be prepared.
Another Option to Consider
I always like to give everyone who reads these articles about how to care for someone who deals with anxiety some ideas that we have found helpful. Tons of trial and error and research later I found this PANIC AWAY PROGRAM. As always if you were to find this information helpful and would make a purchase I would receive a small commission. This program has amazing reviews for helping those with panic attacks.
The Panic Away Program has touched over 150,000 lives in 32 countries worldwide. Everyone has used it, from soccer moms to famous celebrities. Barry McDonagh created this program and you can check it out HERE.
Barry McDonagh says “My goal is now to help you live a more fulfilled life ‘beyond anxiety’”.
I like his approach to dealing with panic attacks because he is not a doctor or therapist but has dealt with stress and anxiety himself and figured out a way to cope that work really well for not only him but for thousands of others.
I have dealt with being a caregiver for many many years but even with all this experience I realize that anxiety and depression is not a ONE SIZE FITS ALL.
There are days when we find a fix for a particular area of her life that works so well and two weeks later we fall on our face again. We pick up the pieces and we start to rebuild and don’t look back. PANIC ATTACKS are one of those things that just when we think we have them figured out they throw us a curve. With that being said I will always share what has worked for us in the past but don’t be too surprised if down the road you find that I am changing my story a bit.
Mental health issues can be very frustrating both for the caregiver and the patient. One needs to stay on top of things and have an open communication. One thing I do know is that if you work on your breathing and embrace the panic attack and download the PANIC AWAY PROGRAM you will be so far ahead of where you were yesterday in dealing with these dreaded panic attacks.
Keep fighting the good fight