2 Spuds in a Pod

Looking after your mental and physical wellbeing.

Category: Anxiety

Time for reflection

The last couple of years have been an emotional roller coaster to say the least. I have had help from various people and professionals around me, all with their specific purpose at the time. As you might have seen in a previous post, I decided I needed to reach out again and ask for help (read this blog here).

CBT

I have now started counselling and CBT, and I am excited about both. This is very personal to me, but I also feel that I want to share some parts of it as I believe that is important. I had a long chat with the CBT therapist about all events leading up to the juice-incident (read about this here) and this caused me again to put in to words how I felt. I believe (in my non-professional opinion) that my anxiety took over a long time ago, leading to a downward spiral of negative thinking which then literally made me depressed. When I initially made contact with the CBT clinic there was an assessment with lots of questions about how I felt. The therapist gave me feedback on this, and the score for anxiety was by far greater than depression. To me that makes a lot of sense, and also confirms how I feel. The aim is that she will provide me with tools for dealing with my anxiety, and this is very exciting.

Counselling

The counselling is a talking therapy, and it is different from the one I had previously. As the counsellor pointed out, and that I had not thought of, it was more looking at tools to help me get through the day. What we are hoping to do now is getting to the bottom of why I feel the way I do. He is a nice guy and I feel comfortable speaking to him. It is difficult too at times. I realise I’ve spent the last few years not really thinking about things, or reflecting. I have simply just existed if that makes sense. One reason for this is that it is the easiest thing to do. But it does not mean that it is healthy. I’m very good at not talking and bottling things up, however that is all changing now.

Stand up for myself

There are a few things I really want to work with for myself. The one thing that stands out right now is that I always feel that I have to go along with what other people say and do, that I find it so difficult to stand up for myself and say “you know, that does not actually suit me right now”, or “I don’t agree with with that”. I feel that doing or saying anything that rocks the boat is just so difficult, so difficult that I just agree with what people say. That in itself is clearly not healthy. I feel it is certainly a huge factor contributing to me feeling the way I do. When you constantly do and say what others do or say, or expect you to do, then it’s easy to understand that I feel that I’ve lost myself along with all confidence and self-esteem. Again, this is something which is difficult to talk about, but then I feel that I should. This feeling is not based on what others expect of me, which is a nice little learning example. I also feel that by writing this down, I become more committed.

So there we are. If I was to give you one piece of advice, it would be to speak up for yourself and do what is good for you. Do not bottle it up.

Keep moving

I am looking forward to continuing my journey towards a happier self. That is what it is, a journey. I feel I was stationary for quite a while and I am now moving again. And speaking of moving, it is time to put my trainers out and head out for an outdoor gym session with the other spud this morning. It is raining but that’s fine too.

I hope you all have a good week. Please feel free to get in contact if anything here has bothered you, or if you feel that it has been good to read about my experiences. This journey is not a book with precise directions on how to get better, we can all learn from each other!

-Rosita

Heads up…. a post on antidepressants

I saw this article “Sertraline: Antidepressant works ‘by reducing anxiety symptoms first” on BBC and I find it very interesting. Sertraline is the antidepressant I take. Apparently it reduces anxiety first then depression weeks later. Have a read of the article here.
All I can say that it works for me, and it did just that.

Antidepressants

I never in a million years thought I would be taking antidepressants but there you have it. I started taking them and I went from crying almost non-stop every day to going days without crying. The relief was immense! As I’m sure some of you know, this constant crying is so tiring and draining. It also certainly does not make you any less depressed. I can only speak for myself but this was my experience. Once my anxiety levels went down, I was in a better place to work on everything else. When you are too anxious you’re in a constant fight or flight mode. Like my counsellor said, with medication my brain was able to calm down and process information which ultimately started helping my recovery.

My advice

I will say this: if a professional (not me, your colleagues or the check out lady in your local supermarket) recommend that you start taking medication then you should seriously consider doing just that. I had mine for a couple of weeks in a drawer in the bathroom before I actually started taking them. Having now been on them for quite some time, I believe I am highly functioning again, and working on getting back to how I was before this all took over. We also changed where we lived and got a new job, which also helped with getting better. But I do not believe that it would have been as successful as it is if it wasn’t for the medication.

-Rosita

The Power of the Mind

The mind is so very powerful, and it is great when it is working properly. I feel as if my mind has been doing it’s own thing for the last few years (and not necessarily working to a satisfying standard), but every now and then it now comes back and shines. The buzz this gives me is immense! It gives me a little hope and I feel as if I am starting to turn a corner. This in turns makes me more relaxed.

I am proud

Following on from Helen’s posts about going on holiday and holiday blues, we’re now back in rainy Scotland, having had a fabulous time away. It is hard to believe that Friday last week we were in Sweden, having swum in the sea! I am so very proud of myself for doing so, and I will tell you why.

Swimming

We both went swimming in the sea in Sweden a couple of years ago now. It was about 14 degrees in the water that day. For anyone wanting to know, this is cold. It is just enough to get in, get under the water then back out again, wrapping up warm very quickly. Helen took a few minutes to get in then spent about 20 minutes swimming and having fun. I thought she was crazy as it was far too cold, and as a Swede you just don’t do that when the temperature is so low.
However, I did not want to be beaten by a Scot. I decided I would get in too.

Too late to go back

I felt that I could not go back on my decision, but I had to go in. It was so cold! All the while she was just swimming around and having a great time. To cut it short, it took me about 15 minutes to get in the water. Once in, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Since then we often joke about this, her being a bit nuts for being in the water for so long when it is so cold, and the amount of time it took me to get in the water at all.

17 degrees

She wanted to go swimming again this year. On our day out last Friday we brought our stuff so we could go swimming if we found a suitable spot. It was also a bit drizzly that day and cold so not the best day for it. Towards late afternoon we got to a place called Norrkrog (have a look on Google maps here). I checked the water with a thermometer (very important to a Swede) and it was 17 degrees. So warmer than 14 but still freezing. It was also windy and the air temperature was cool. We got changed and Helen got almost straight in. I started to go in then felt that it was far too cold, that I’m stupid for getting in and that it will take forever to get in. I also did not want to spend 20 minutes trying to get in the water.

The power of the mind

I took a moment and said to myself “imagine if you just go straight in, how amazing would that be?” A part of me felt that it would actually be possible, and this made me excited. I knew I was going to get wet and cold but also how great would it not be? Finally swimming in the sea in Sweden with Helen, something we keep talking about!
So in I went. It took perhaps a couple of minutes, and not before running around acting silly. But in I went. I swam, I went under the water, I swam out to the jetty where Helen had set up camp whilst watching me getting in the water. And I felt so immensely proud of myself. I made the decision and acted on it straight away.

You might think it’s nothing

To me this is a massive thing to achieve. It shows that I am not the somewhat useless person I often think that I am, that my mind is actually great and I can do great things.
Over the last years I have learnt that this is what anxiety can do. It is not rational at all. There is no reasoning with it. I still have good and bad days, and I always will. And that is absolutely fine too.

I hope you all have a great weekend. Think of me when you’re relaxing and having a great time, I will be working in the rain outdoors around Glasgow. That is also absolutely fine, I might get wet but I will dry.

As always, please get in touch if you want to, for any reason at all. We are always here, happy to listen and to help.

-Rosita

“It’s not me, it’s my anxiety”

“It’s not me, it’s my anxiety”

I came across this blog post a short while ago. The author, who suffers from depression and mild anxiety, talks about how simple relationships become so complicated. There is so much about this post that makes sense to me, as I often feel the same.
Have a read of the post here (“It’s not me, it’s my anxiety” by Confessions of a Forces Housewife).

I am not the only one

From reading this I’m clearly not the only one feeling this way. I have often felt somewhat awkward when meeting new people, and still do. I’d love to know if this is down to being socially inept, or if I have always had the anxiety as company. Perhaps they go hand in hand.
There has been numerous times when I have agreed to meet with someone, only to cancel at the last minute. Up to that point, my mind has been racing with reasons why not to go, as well as telling myself I am being ridiculous and stupid and that I should just go. And still I cancel. Well, maybe less now than before, so I do believe it’s something you learn, that you have to do certain things to fit in socially too. But the relief when I’ve made to the decision to cancel, having told the person too, is immense.

Try not to say no all the time

As hard as it is, having people around you is so important. We all need someone to hear us, listen and advice, give us a hug or simply just be there. You might think that when you are at a low point that nobody will be interested in speaking to you, that you don’t have anything to contribute, and all the negative thoughts take over, making matters worse. If you can, try to respond to a text message or email. It doesn’t have to be a long answer, just something to show that you are there. For the person reaching out to someone who has withdrawn, know that your continued attempts means the world. I might not feel able to respond to you at the time, but knowing that you are there matters. Knowing that you will stay in contact whilst I am going through this helps. Knowing I am not alone in this, and that you will still be there regardless of whether I respond or not, helps.

Understanding

This is all difficult, and I wish I could understand how my brain works. I certainly would not expect others to understand how I am feeling at times when I do not understand it myself. But then we also sometimes just have to accept that things are as they are, that this is a journey without an end and with a lot of ups and downs. Take it as it comes. Don’t beat yourself up. Look at what you have achieved today. You matter. You are important. Don’t forget that.

Hearts

I chose the above photo of my string of heart plant simply because of the hearts. Lots of hearts from us to you all. Have a great weekend, and if you need us then just get in touch. We are always here.

Shelf update

It is ready! I am not sure what I am most impressed with, that it turned out so good or that I really wanted and enjoyed making it, without stressing (or drawings/instructions for that matter).

-Rosita

The shelf I made
Plant shelf

Building a shelf

The fact that I want to build a shelf makes me happy. Please, just hear me out. To me it shows how far I’ve come on my road to recovery, which is what this is all about.

Last year

A lot of things happened last year. Big things. We moved from London to outside of Glasgow, we both changed jobs and in my case, this was a complete change of career. Not sure it is a career as such, but it is a job I thoroughly enjoy, for now. Especially on a day like today when it’s warm, the sun is shining, I’m currently sitting outside in the garden typing this with both a beer and a coffee as well as my spud (Helen for those of you who are wondering). But I digress.
Last year was truly awful in a lot of ways, although a lot of good things came from it. I can see that now. It clearly shows how sometimes you really must go through the bad stuff to appreciate the good.

Medication

Looking back at the beginning of 2018, I was on sick leave and temporarily in Scotland. This was because Helen had gotten a job here, and I was not in a state to be left alone. During the first few months, I was a wreck. I kept crying and was very anxious about everything, constantly making mountains out of nothing. I felt I was not capable of doing anything at all. The one big thing I had to do over this period was to get another job. It had become apparent that the main cause for me getting to this state in the first place was due to work. So, I needed to find another job. Now when you are constantly crying and believe you are good for just about nothing then this becomes very difficult. Things got worse and I decided to go to the doctor and ask for anti-depressant medication. This was something we had talked about before, but I did not want to go down that line, as I felt I was not sick, that such medication is for sick people.

How wrong was I!

I took my first anti-depressant one evening in February last year, and it’s safe to say that this changed things. The next day there were no tears. I can’t really describe the relief I felt from this, that I did not cry so much, that I didn’t have to keep pacing up and down when I felt down because the tears stopped straight away. Now this doesn’t mean that this was it, the solution to everything. It did mean though however that I could start my long road to recovery. So much energy is wasted when you keep crying and the brain stays in its chaotic state and keeps feeding the bad thoughts.

A typical day

Up to this point, my normal day looked like this: Wake up, have breakfast, shower, go for a walk if I felt I could, eat lunch (which was either cooked for me or was something quick and easy from the supermarket which did not involve cooking), sleep in the afternoon, perhaps read something or listen to some music, then dinner which was the same setup at lunch and then off to bed. This is all I felt I could do. I did not have any energy for anything else. Nor did I want to do anything else. For a few months this was my every day, and it was hard for me as well as everyone around me. I kept a diary where I wrote everything down, as I could not retain any information. If it was not written down, it would not happen.

Fast forward

Now, just over a year later, I am doing so much better. I am working full time and managing a few sessions in the gym too every week. Over the last month or so I have been constructing my greenhouse and filling it up with things. Not only green things, but table, chairs and so on. My indoor plant collection has grown and although Helen is very nice about it, I do not want to upset her further by letting the plants take over (around 40 and counting). Therefore, I have decided to make a plant shelf. This involves getting the wood, sawing and filing and drilling and sanding and everything else. I saw one I really liked, as does Helen, so I’m going to make a prototype. It won’t be perfect but in a lot of ways it will still be fantastic. What I love about all of this is that I want to do all these things. I have so much energy now to do all of it, although not enough time in the day. Having spent a ten-hour day of physical work, I come home and continue with everything I need and want to do.

I want to build a shelf

This is in progress now, and I wish there was more time, but that is ok. I have made such great progress: I feel so much better and I know it will all get better still. It is important to give yourself time when you are not feeling well. Having gone through all of it over the last year really puts things into perspective, and I do spend some time reflecting on where I was and how far I’ve come. I’m beginning to feel more back to my old self, I still have ways to go but I’m getting there. My greenhouse is up, my shelf is in progress, we have plans for some time away and as well as everything else we are involved in with 2 Spuds in a Pod.

Life is good

It has its up and downs, but we also would not appreciate the good stuff if we have not been through the bad stuff. I feel I have a lot of experience that I am willing to share, to help break the stigma of mental health. We all suffer, and we need to talk about it more, men more so than women. I am always here and always willing to listen and advice. There is nothing to be ashamed of.  

-Rosita

Traveling with anxiety

London bound!

Had you told me five or ten years ago that I would be anxious about returning to London I would have laughed in your face, wondering what planet you were on. This is London we’re talking about, the amazing city full of culture and history, iconic red buses and black cabs, where you can do and get anything you want. I spent 19 years there, and to start off with it was absolutely brilliant. As time went on and life happened, I slowly got stuck in a downward spiral with depression and anxiety. Only I did not know about it at the time. There were a lot of things that triggered the way I felt, and at this point I do not want to talk about it. Now is a very happy time and I intend to keep it that way, at least with the things I can control, then hope I have enough resilience to deal with the curved balls when they hit.

Passport

I am going to London next week for one day only as I have to renew my passport. Being Swedish in the UK and living in Scotland means I can only do that in London at the Swedish Embassy. Unless I were to do so in Sweden during a visit but I decided long ago against that as…. you guessed it, I worry about it too much! Because that is what I do.

Worrying

I am clearly a worrier, which goes hand in hand with anxiety. I worry about the smallest things, for instance if someone sends me a text message without a happy face then my brain goes mad. What does that mean? Are they not happy? Do I have to find out if they are struggling so I need to help them? Are they not happy with me? What did I do, is this because I did not laugh at their joke? Oh no, I can’t believe I did not do that, why on earth didn’t I? What can I say to them to make up for it? These thoughts go on and on and on. I spend so much time and energy on this and it also stops me from doing all the things I need to do.
I have not been back to London on my own for a long time now. Thinking about getting it all done and being in the right place at the right time gets the brain working overtime.

Triggers

There are a few things that brings this on. Knowing that I will be at a busy airport, having to fight through the crowds to get onto the train and continuing on the tube in late rush hour. I find it really stressful with all the people, the crowds, the stress and rushing around, making sure I’m standing in the right place at the right time. On top of this, what I find the worst by far, is the noise. Last year I was really struggling with loud noises, the background noises in crowds and so on. During a conversation with my counsellor she suggested using good head phones when leaving the house, to keep the noise out. I have since brought a great pair of head phones!

Game changer

Getting the head phones was a game changer. I used them so much, in particular in big crowds such as train stations and shopping centres. It took a little while but I also realised that as long as you turn them on, they don’t need to be connected to a music player and play music as they can still block the noise out. When I put them on I stepped in to my little bubble where I felt safe, and the world was quiet. I found this helped me enormously as it allowed me to go out and do things, as sitting at home doing nothing is never good for anyone.

Check list

I know that the trip will be stressful, but there are a few things I will do to try and keep the anxiety and stress levels down:
– Use the above mentioned head phones
– Have all locations and times added to my Google calendar, to always see where to be and at what time
– Bring an empty water bottle, book and phone charger
– Bring pen and paper to write things down on. When I get too stressed I can’t retain much information and need to write things down.
– Only bring the bare essentials, and certainly no liquids, so I don’t have to worry about going through the security at the airport

We all react differently to things, and there is not one solution to our problems. You have to try different things then stick to what works for you.

I will let you know how it goes.

-Rosita

Anxiety and me

I believe we are all anxious about some things at certain times in life. It is when the anxiety takes over and stops you from doing even the simple things that it becomes a problem. Looking back over the last few years, I can see that the main trigger for this was work.

Work ethics

I have always been a very hard-working person, I pride myself with being professional at all times, I am compassionate and always try my hardest to help people, and I want to get things done quickly and to a high standard. When I became a police officer all those years ago, I was so happy and I felt it was absolutely the best thing I could have done. I was really chuffed, here was little me, from Sweden, working as a police officer in London! I got to work with some amazing people, had great experiences and unfortunately some not so great. That comes with this line of work, when police get involved it’s usually because something bad has happened to someone else.

My police work

For the majority of my time in the police, I worked in roles where I was supporting the victims of crime. Now this was initially great, I felt I had found my place and that I was able to really make a difference. This also meant that I was a middle person between the investigation and the victim. There were so many times that I knew I had done a great job, the best that could be done in the circumstances, only for this to be questioned by the investigative team. This was generally due to the fact that life is not always black and white, sometimes you will not get the answers that you want. It might be that that crucial bit of information which will make or break the investigation simply cannot be obtained. It did not matter how many times I was asked to clarify this with the victim, or in how many different ways, sometimes it could simply not be established. This started grating with me, and I started questioning my role and the work I was doing. I started taking it to heart, feeling that I was not doing a good enough job. From there I started questioning every little thing I did, until it got to a point where I really felt I could not make any decisions myself. And if I could not make any decisions, I could certainly not go out and do all the things I needed to do to progress the investigations.

Becoming a detective

During all of this, I somehow managed to study for the exam to become a detective. Fast-forward a couple of years, I was now managing my own investigations. Unfortunately, I was still feeling the same way, well possibly a lot worse, and I must have hidden it very well. No one at work ever questioned my ability to perform my role, and I believe I got good enough results too.

It became difficult to do simple tasks

There were so many things that started to get on top of me, really bringing me down. It became very difficult to progress all the tasks I had. I can see this very clearly now, how I was struggling to get the work done. Every little thing became a mountain. If I knew I had to make a phone call, I would think about this a long time before, trying to play the conversation out in my head first, ensuring I had covered all eventualities so that I would not get caught out if I did not have an answer to all the questions the person might ask me. If I had to write an email, I would write it then re-write it several times, again trying to make sure there would be no misunderstandings from the contents. There were also numerous times when I would get my colleagues to read my emails for me before sending them.

No one asked and I didn’t say

All of this would obviously take a lot of time, as well as energy. Most of the time, I would not get the results I wanted. This was due to a variety of reasons, suffice to say that it was not down to me. It got to a point where I felt I was banging my head against a brick wall. I had gotten to a point where I felt I could not carry out the simplest of tasks, yet I obviously still hid this really well as no one ever said anything. I was worrying all the time, about everything, and I constantly felt it was just a matter of time before I would get found out and pulled up on for not doing my work properly. I have since spoken to my line manager about this, and although she had noticed it to an extent, she had not been overly concerned. It just shows how much I had made this into a big monster in my head. I was constantly anxious about all my tasks, and I felt it stopped me from doing my job to my usual high standards. And I never asked for help either. I did not know or understand what was going on.

The juice incident

Fast-forward to the juice incident, at which point I was crying most of the time yet still managed to do my work. Reflecting back on it now, I feel I was so strong and really trying to do a good job whilst falling apart and not even realising. There were other things going on too, so work was obviously not the only factor making me feel this way, but it certainly was the main contributor.

The book

At some point during this I came across a book written by a fellow police officer, John Sutherland. He wrote a book called Blue: A Memoir – Keeping the Peace and Falling to Pieces. Just about everything he wrote really hit home, it was such an eye-opener and I also realised I was not the only person feeling this way. I would highly recommend this book, both you who are maybe not feeling as good as you can be, as well as to friends and family of someone suffering with depression, anxiety and the like. It gives such a great insight into feeling this way, and it provides a lot of information for the supporters too, as the sufferer might not be able to put it all in to words. Know that it happens to the best of us.
Read about the book on his blog policecommander.wordpress.com here, order it on Amazon here.

Someone by your side helps

What helped me in all of this was having Helen by my side. She has helped me so much, I feel very fortunate having her, and she really took the stress off everything. It got to a point where I wasn’t really able to do much at all myself, so she stepped in and did it all for me.

Find someone to help you

Now I realise that not everyone has a Helen in their lives. My advice to you would be to find that one person you are completely comfortable with speaking to about absolutely everything. Just being able to talk about this really helps. If you do not feel able to speak to your friends, family or colleagues, then call one of the helplines. They are experienced and they can point you in the right direction, as well as listen.

You are not alone

The main thing to remember is that you are not alone. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It is often the strong people who end up feeling this way, when all their energy has depleted through helping everyone else.

One year later

It’s been over a year now since we’ve settled in Scotland, and I am amazed at the progress I have made. I still have a long way to go, and it will be done. If I can, so can you.

2Spuds can help

2Spuds can also help, be it through walk and rant, or simply rant. We are both great listeners and will provide information on how to move forward. Remember that we’ve both been there.

-Rosita

Old-style blue and white classic police car
I found this classic police car parked one night and just had to take a picture of it. As far as I am aware, it only ever comes out on special occasions.
(Photo taken using an older mobile phone, hence the quality not being the best)

Anxiety

I am pretty sure that this topic has touched a lot of us in one way or another. It could be that you are an anxiety sufferer. It may be that you have witnessed someone have an anxiety attack. It may be that a close friend or family member has been living with anxiety for years.

From time to time we will all feel a bit anxious.  We may feel anxious before a big test or exam. We could feel anxious that we must drive to a place we have never been to. It could be that you have invited your partner’s parents’ round for tea, and you want to impress them with your culinary skills. All these examples are good ones for anxiety and examples which will last for the time they are there and no longer. What I would like to talk about is someone who suffers from an anxiety mental health condition and who lives with the condition day in and day out.

Anxiety definition

According to the dictionary there are two definitions for anxiety.

One is:

“a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.”

And another is:

“Psychiatry, a nervous disorder marked by excessive uneasiness and apprehension, typically with compulsive behaviour or panic attacks.”

Taken from Oxford English Dictionary.

And there you have it, the definitions of anxiety. However, as I have said I want to speak about what it is to live with anxiety day in and day out.

Anxiety everyday

This means everyday you live with constant worry and nervousness. According to the charity Mind there are several triggers for anxiety, and they are:

Past or childhood experiences including neglect as a child, bullying or social exclusion.

Your current life situation including being out of work, working long hours and not seeing family, money issues, bullying.

Physical and mental health problems including living with a serious or life-threatening health condition.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you speak to anyone who suffers from anxiety and ask them about triggers, I can guarantee that they will all be different from each other.

Triggers

The best thing you can do as an anxiety sufferer is know your triggers. This way you will be able to avoid them if needs be or be prepared for them. Obviously, this will take some time to do. It will be very hard if you are in the middle of being diagnosed with anxiety to know what a trigger could be. You may end up going through a few months where everything will be a trigger. This is nothing to worry about (I am fully aware that, that is easier said than done). It is because your anxiety is at the fore front of everything. Once you work at getting it under control it should settle down and you will hopefully be left with one or two triggers. You will hopefully be left with how to deal with an anxiety attack as well.

My main trigger would have to be bullying. I have been bullied both in school and in workplaces. It is the one thing that will rally my nerves, gets me wound up and leaves me feeling anxious. I have worked hard at keeping it under control and I now try to sort bullying out as soon as it starts rather than several weeks down the line.

BBC Anxiety and Me

There was a fantastic documentary on BBC one recently called Anxiety and Me. It was presented by Great British Bake Off’s winner Nadiya Hussain. The programme took the viewer through a journey on what it was like to live with anxiety. It also showed the viewer the realisation that you may need to speak to a professional as well as actually speaking to one. As far as I am aware it is still on BBC iPlayer. I would encourage you to watch it.

What is a panic attack?

So, as you can see anxiety can be a very debilitating condition to live with. The constant fear of what if this is to happen or what if that was to happen. Living with anxiety could also lead to a panic attack.

What is a panic attack and what does it feel like to have one? These are both great questions. Both Rosie and I have both had panic attacks at some point or other in our lives. Being individuals, we also have different symptoms.

The main symptoms according to NHS to look out for are:

Palpitations, sweating, shakiness in the hands, nausea, dizziness or hyperventilation.

For more symptoms please visit the NHS website.

Rosie’s symptoms are:
Pacing, cannot be still, struggling to talk, cannot make any decisions and crying.

My symptoms are:
Fast breathing, facial twitching, shaky legs which could then travel up the body to arms and torso, sweating.

As you can see there are a whole list of symptoms with regards to a panic attack. It will differ to each person.

How to help someone having a panic attack

Now, it can be very frightening to witness someone having a panic attack but it can also be extremely frightening if you have not had an attack before. The best way to deal with one is:

Keep calm. Either on your own or as the helper you must keep calm. There is no point in making a panic attack worse by panicking.

Move away from the situation to a quieter spot if you can. Moving away will help both yourself and the sufferer settle down.

Breathe. Take a deep breath. In through the nose and let it out slowly through the mouth. Keep doing this until you feel calmer. If you are helping someone do this then breathe with them.

Reassurance. If you are on your own then call a friend or a family member who can help you. As a helper reassure the person suffering from the attack. Do not ask them too many questions, and it may be enough for them knowing you are listening without saying anything. They may tell you afterwards what the trigger was, but your priority is to help them be calm.

Panic attacks last anywhere from 5 to 25 minutes. It can be a frightening experience, but it is rare that a person will need to go to hospital with a panic attack.

– Helen

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