What happens when…you have a panic attack?


This is the sixth post in my ‘What happens when…’ series. This series is running every Wednesday on Inside Laura’s Head for as long as I have posts. The series will be written by me, and also by guest posters. Posts can be on anything as long as they fit the ‘What happens when…’ title. If you have an idea and would like to guest post on Inside Laura’s Head, you can  e-mail me at insidelaurashead@hotmail.com – all ideas are welcomed. Look out for more ‘What happens when…’ posts, and follow me on Bloglovin so you don’t miss any!

Meet this week’s Guest Poster!


Ella is the blogger behind hellaturnup.wordpress.com – the one stop site for everything and anything relating to beauty, lifestyle, health and fitness, humanity and fashion. You can find Ella on Twitter and Pinterest. Do head over and check her out-once you’ve read this post, of course!

What happens when…you have a panic attack?

Having “recovered” from a mental illness myself late last year, this is my story about panic attacks along with some tips on how to cope with them. Hopefully this helps some of you who may know someone suffering from anxiety, or if you are experiencing this yourself.

I put recovered in speech marks because I say this flippantly. I don’t believe you can never really fully recover after you have been mentally ill.

I think that your brain got sick, you repaired the sickness, and you are now more aware and able to do this in the future should you ever need to. Hopefully like myself, following the illness you have opened your eyes and mind to a broader perspective than ever before.

At this point in my life I am aware of what makes me feel anxious or upset and how to diffuse these feelings as they arise, and prevent them altogether.

I avoid alcohol as I know it could likely lead to experiencing anxiety as it goes hand in hand with depression, because you are more prone to this after a drinking sesh.

There is nothing to be ashamed about if you have experience mental illness. Furthermore, if you know anyone who is experiencing this, the best thing you can do to help and support them is just be there. Even if they do not respond, which is likely, you should try and call them twice a day and send a text. It can make all the difference.

A little background on me: A child of six raised by a single mother in various areas after being made homeless as a kid. Moving into and renting my own flat by 19th birthday. Mental illness.

I have had some real life “nervous” breakdowns, and I can vouch that there is absolutely nothing more terrifying than being out of control of your own mind. You feel completely isolated, which was the reason for my mental state going into the ground in the first place. I couldn’t eat, sleep or indulge in any activity. The best way to describe it is feeling 3 years old again. You go back to the beginning. You scarcely understand much and everything is terrifying. Anywhere but the bed is a sudden danger zone.

I went to school, college and university. I later dropped out of university and got a job. I am just an average young woman who has experienced and overcame adversity, like many others. I worked hard to do this and made sacrifices. The point is mental illness can strike anybody, at any time. You need to know the triggers and how to overcome them.

Generally speaking, I do not personally believe that the pills on the market that will be prescribed to you if you tell the doctors what’s up are any good. This is my opinion. I was prescribed Propranolol and Citalopram when my brain got sick, I took the pills as directed for a few days, and then stopped. By the time I had got to the point of being prescribed pills I was already halfway to being “over it.” One day I just thought right this is it. It’s you or me. I decided then that I would not allow myself to be a victim of my own brain, and I did everything I could to regain a normal life. I longed to get back to the life I had worked so hard on creating for myself.

Being mentally ill did cost me my job and flat, which I have since got control of again. The truth is nobody will make any allowances for you. It’s your problem. With “It’s not my problem” being the choice of phrase for most people who’ll come into contact with you. A small number of “friends” have since been removed from my contacts list for their failing to participate in helping me overcome my issues, with them later texting me to say that I had scared them. Mental illness will scare everyone around you. They will just see the empty decaying shell that you have become, realize they cannot gain from you anymore, and do one.

Moving on let’s talk about one symptom you will experience and recognize should you not be on top form, and how to “get over it.”

Because with regards to mental illness, it is about getting over it. Getting over what goes on in your mind, and the attitude from folk around you that you will be forced to endure. Sadly, there is still a stigma attached to mental illness. The bottom line is that there is no quick “cure” and you cannot control what happens to you nor when.

You can control how you react to it though. This is what Google says happens when you have a panic attack. “panic attack occurs when your body experiences a rush of intense psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. You may experience an overwhelming sense of fear, apprehension and anxiety. As well as these feelings, you may also have physical symptoms such as: nausea.”

This is my experience. On my first day at the school my heart pounded like I had just ingested a pizza laced with cocaine, and my hands were drenched with sweat. I couldn’t breathe. It’s like someone inserting a gastric band around your lungs and minimizing your heartbeats to one per minute. You feel like you are going to die.

But you won’t so chin up. Here are my tips for dealing with anxiety/anxiety attacks:

  • Always have a bottle of water to hand with you, and a little something to eat that contains sugar.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol, even herbal remedies such as ST John’s Wart, as these can all heighten your anxiety.
  • Sit down and put your head between your legs.
  • Breathe in and out deeply to regain control, eventually regulating your breathing and being able to do this in a slow, controlled manner.
  • Sit up and then take 5.

You need to learn your triggers. I haven’t had any experiences this year in terms of anxiety or mental health issues, I’m happier than ever.

However, my trigger is being isolated. I like to be around others more often than not and I enjoy staying mentally stimulated. Keep a log book of when you are not feeling great/when you are feeling anxious. Note down where you were, who you were with, whether or not anything happened, what the environment was like… Busy? Empty? You’ll soon see an emerging pattern and then you’ll be able to identify, recognize and with these tips diffuse a panic attack.

The BEST piece of advice I can give you is this. Accepting help and support is not a sign of weakness. Chances are everyone will know you are “crazy” before you do.

As someone who’s also experienced panic attacks and anxiety, I do relate to some of this, but I there’s also parts that I don’t recognise at all. I feel it’s important to point out that we all experience things differently, and that we should never think we know all about someone else’s experiences.

As part of hosting What happens when…, I have had some posts submitted to me that contain statements I don’t agree entirely with-this post is no different. However, I promised myself that I would never change someone else’s words-unless they are offensive or illegal, in which case I obviously would not publish them on Inside Laura’s Head. The words you’ve just read are all Ella’s, and I have really enjoyed reading them.

Neither Ella’s post, or my addition, is a substitute for proper medical advice, please do see your doctor if you are experiencing panic attacks. Thank you, Ella, for sharing your story.

Laura xx

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