Saturday, May 31, 2008

Baby Panic Attacks

I've lately been having these mini panic attacks*. You know what I'm talking about? When you start thinking about something and then you just sort of keep spinning it around and around in your head until you find yourself unable to breathe, and unclear on your own reality? Aa's had this long-standing gift when it comes to talking me out of these episodes (as well as the big ones, where I wind up in a ball in tears in some corner of our house, but that hasn't happened for years thankfully). Lately my panic attacks have to do with: our house, the wedding planning, and the future in general. Then this gets all balled up and becomes "OHDEARGODITSALLSOBLEAKWEARE SOSCREWEDIDONTEVENKNOWWHATTODOORWHERETOGOWHEREISTHEDOGINEEDTOCRAWLINTOBED".

So, I have a question for you, dear readers (both of you). If you start feeling your mind spin out like I described, what do you to rein it back in and calm yourself down? Like I said, Aa is amazing at calming me down and bringing me back to reality. But he can't be around all the time, and it'd be cool if I could calm myself down too. Any tricks or tools you've developed would be great to know. Thanks!!

*And please, don't worry, I'm fine. Sometimes I just get worked up about stuff is all.


Ariel said...

Here's my technique when I start freaking the fuck out about something: I try counting my gratitudes. I start small: I'm grateful for my hands working. I'm grateful for my couch I'm sitting on. I'm grateful for the way my dog's belly smells. etc.

Eventually I work my way up to the big picture stuff. I'm grateful for my right to free speech. I'm grateful that I don't have to worry about going hungry on a daily basis. I'm grateful that I have all my limbs.

It sounds silly, but when you force your brain to chew over all the things in your life that you appreciate, it keeps the panic/anxiety demons at bay. The nitty gritty details keep your immediate monkey brain busy, and meanwhile you get a great sense of perspective on your life ... like, whatever you're freaking out about might suck, but at least you have all your limbs and a place to sleep every night. :)

john said...

TV. That's all. Preferably something known and familiar and unsurprising. In my case, Sportscenter or Letterman. That's all. It just blocks it out. And yeah, it happens all the time.

Alex said...

I would urge you to consider that sometimes a sense of panic is wholly justified. If you were organizing a wedding without occaisionally feeling panicked, you'd seem like you had a brain problem. Just ride that shit out hommie.

And grab your dog and hug him like crazy. Does he seemed panicked? Hell no! That is what he is there for. To calm you. Good boy!

C-n-C said...

We made our own blog post in response to yours. Check it out:

Tankboy said...

Betty the Beagle. That's my trick!

Z_gal said...

My first instinct is to zoom out, like "This condition may suck, but in 24 hrs/1 month/15 minutes I'll be on the other side and it won't matter anymore."
I once stayed in NYC - sharing a hotel with the largest domestic cockroach I'd ever witnessed - with some friends. 8 or 9 people packed into a small room, and one of the moms said to me with a real smile, "I can do anything for a night." She is totally my role model.

As a control freak with borderline OCD, my grip on the minutia that drives one to insanity is tough to let go of, and the only thing that seems to help is the hard earned knowledge that it really will pass. In one year, no one's going to give the slightest crap.

I really love Alex's suggestion about grabbing Zack. Can I come over and hug your dog??

PQ said...

I am with you Snappy J, and what I do is kind of similar to ariel. I stop and grab on to the moment. I look at myself and make my mind focus on the here and now. In this moment I am alive, I have a home, I have friends, I have all the factory parts (although they are out of warranty), nobody is, in this moment, trying to harm me, forclose on my mortgage, shove balloon animals in my ass, hitting me in the head with canned hams. And the thing I latch on to is that the future cannot harm me, has no control over me, all that matters is this moment. I am here and this is now. Kind of Zen, I know, but it works for me and beats a cough syrup binge.

Jason3525 said...

If my mind starts to go into one of those "overdrive" moments, I just conjure my ongoing landscaping project in the back yard. The planting, the weeding, the mulching. I'm the only one who cares about the work that needs to be done back there, so there's no pressure. I can always fall asleep to those thoughts. So: go back to your "Futility" posting. In all that stuff is your next "get out of mental anguish free" card!

bAbAk said...

For obvious reasons I am bound to leave a comment in response to your post.
Stop (if possible at all) whatever you are doing; Go outside, sit down, take deep breath for a couple of minutes (or more if needed) and just focus on your breathing, slow and deep.
Remember that panic is a protective measure from the evolutionary perspective. It has kept the species alert and ready to face any threats. Panic is when your adrenergic system (the same that makes you feel ready for fight, escape or any condition that needs urgent high level of physical and mental attention.) is hyperactive. When you think of panic from this perspective, it would probably make you even feel less stressed. It does then make sense where on the hell this weirdo feeling is coming from. Acknowledge to yourself that this condition means that I am overwhelmed because there are things that I need to take care of, or that I dont know what might happen. Remind yourself that nobody, nobody has ever died of panic attack. Refresh your memory that all the symptoms that you experience in a panic attack are purely because your adrenergic system has gotten hyperactive and if you cool it down (by deep breathing and thinking of the stuff that I told you for example,) the panic would go away. As a rule of thumb, prevention is always better than treatment. When got a chance, think of the reasons that are making you feel overwhelmed and try to address them , if possible at all.

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