Big Welcome to our Nina Life coach Ana, starting a series answering all your questions. In thist post Ana is answering to Qamar, if you have a question to Ana, pls submit here, and Ana will answer to your query!
I want to share with you about the biggest contributor to my day to day life – anxiety.
My frenemy, my brain whispers as I write this.
Anxiety had scared the shit out of me from time to time, excuse my French! But at the same time, it has inspired some of the biggest moves I have made in life.
Mind you, tonight is one of those nights where anxiety and insomnia have teamed up to keep me up and away from a beautiful night of sleep but, then again, it is one of those nights where my frenemy has inspired me to start writing this. Now you see how anxiety can play both roles of being a friend and an enemy. Without it I wouldn’t have been able to stay up and write an amazing article for you to read.
Alright, banter aside… let’s talk about the serious stuff – my first panic attack.
It was a normal day I turned around to my co-worker and said I need to go for walk, he laughed and said, you just walked in. As he was talking, I rushed out and got in to the elevator – wrong move! Being in a confined space made things worst. I started hyperventilating and was struggling to control my breathing. I got out of the elevator, sat by the door and just broke down crying and was repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe”. As I glanced up my boss walks in the building and sees me on the floor having a hysterical moment, he did not know what hit him. He asked me what was wrong and when I repeated the same thing over and over “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” while crying and screaming at the same time, he called his assistant and my friend who shortly came downstairs to help. He then called an ambulance to come to work.
My panic attack decided to make an appearance at the busiest time of the morning where everybody was walking into work. My vision started to blur and all I can say to myself is “please faint now please faint now” as I just wanted it to stop. But my brain was not responding, and my breathing was out of control. I looked up at everyone around me and felt embarrassed, the company had now witnessed me at my most vulnerable state.
The thing is, when I got my first panic attack I didn’t realise what was really happening until it happens. The brain tries to shut down, but breath is not letting it decide what it wants to do. It’s almost like both brain and soul are completely out of sync and there is no balance. I started freaking out because I thought of having a heart attack and a brain damage at the same time.
While I was on the floor next to the elevator, I kept trying to control my thoughts and my breathing, but I lost that control and that’s what freaked me out the most. Not having control over my brain to tell it to communicate with one of the organs is a scary thing for a first timer.
The ambulance had arrived, and my friend took me to it. As soon as I got in, the paramedic recognised what was happening, she placed stickers all over my chest to check my heart rate and asked me several questions about my childhood, my last holiday etc. Within minutes my breathing started to subside. And she assured me that my heart was fine and that I had just experienced my first panic attack “ah what a relief”..
First of all – thank you so much for sharing something that is so personal and presents you at your most vulnerable. The more we share these stories and expand the dialogue around mental health and wellbeing, the more we breakthrough the stigma and are able to correctly deal with the various matters it encompasses.
In this instance, we will focus on anxiety and panic attacks. A panic attack is indeed a very frightful experience and your account testifies to that.
My first action for you would be to go back to the time when the attack happened and take inventory of what was going on in your life around that time.
Often, we ignore things that are bothering us. They seem too little and of no importance to give attention to however, other small things start to bother us, and we continue in the same pattern. Before you know it, there is a massive snowball coming at us and we have this horrible feeling in the pit of our stomachs.
Other times it could be a life changing event that took place and we didn’t take the appropriate time and space to deal with it.
Once you have identified what may have been the trigger, formulate a plan for how you can better deal with it should you find yourself in a similar situation in the future.
A small dose of anxiety can be beneficial and when managed correctly, it can work to your advantage. As you have identified, it can actually play a vital role in your creativity and has inspired you at key moments in your life. This is a very important tool in preventing a panic attack. As you identify the onset of anxiety symptoms, you can distract yourself by doing something you enjoy thereby defusing the negative impact. Also, identifying the trigger is important, because you can reframe it by giving it a positive outlook in order to inspire action towards something you would like to achieve even though it terrifies you.
I love how you poetically put it that ‘your brain and soul are out of sync’. Indeed, when in the midst of a panic or anxiety attack, rationalising what is happening will have little to no effect. In fact, it can make things worst because now you will be worrying about what is happening and exacerbating the symptoms.
Once you recognise what is happening, allow it to happen and say it’s ok, it’s just anxiety or a panic attack, it won’t last forever and soon I’ll feel back to my normal self. Maybe go for a walk, drink a cup of chamomile tea, smell some lavender, lay down and most importantly control your breathing.
Anxiety has become a normal part of our modern society and as such, it is important to understand it and how to deal with it.
In its most severe form, anxiety can be debilitating and crippling however, the good news is that in most cases it is manageable, and you can take control of it instead of letting it control you.
With love, Ana
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