July 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm #39384KayaParticipant
Please help, I am going through a severe panic attack right now and don’t know what to do. I am so scared. I have been having them for the past 3 months and don’t know how to deal with them anymore. I am not suicidal but I feel like I can’t go on like this, it is destroying my life. I have been practicing mindfulness and breathing, but it feels like nothing helps when I am going through one of theses episodes. To make matters worse, I work myself up even more because I know stressing is bad for my health and can lead to illnesses. I have heard people say that we should just accept the anxiety (because what you resist persists), but I honestly feel like I want to die every time I go through an episode–it’s like I have no control over myself when one occurs. I try to monitor my negative thoughts as they come and not attach myself to them, but I have one of those minds that seems to never stop, and I get overwhelmed–then I start to panic and feel completely helpless. I have always been anxious by nature and have been on and off anti-anxiety medication for the past year, but I know it just acts as a band aid, and I am trying to get to the root of the problem. It’s so hard for me to see the light at the end of the tunnel when I am going through this–I feel that I will never get my life back.July 29, 2013 at 4:39 pm #39389Buddhist WifeParticipant
I’m sorry to hear you are having such a tough time.
Before reading the below I would strongly advise you that if you think you are in danger because of your panic attack, seek immediate medical help. It is probably advisable that you are not alone at this period in time.
I have a mental illness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, so I have some idea what it is like to deal with anxiety. I am no expert however and what I write is just based on my own life experience, so take it all with caution.
Have you been having any therapy to help you deal with your anxiety? I truly believe that it can be helpful in these situations. Therapies such as talking therapies or CBT can do wonders if you are dealing with anxiety.
As regards meditation, I can only speak for myself but I have found that when I am anxious it is the opposite of helpful. The purpose of many forms of meditation is to observe your thoughts, or a single thought or to clear your mind. I found this very counterproductive when I was in an anxious state because I just ended up focusing on the thoughts of anxiety and this got me in a complete state.
With this in mind, I suggest that you seek out a proper qualified meditation teacher who can sit down with you and discuss particular types of meditation that may be helpful to you. Do your research and make sure that you choose someone with proper experience, not some fly by night hippy dippy person.
When I am anxious I find the best thing is to try and distract myself. I watch TV I enjoy or play games. Nothing too stimulating, just gentle distracting things. Sometimes I even doodle and write poems.
This distracts me until I am tired enough to fall asleep and I usually find that my panicked state has passed.
You can and will get through this.
With strong wishes for your health and happiness.July 29, 2013 at 5:39 pm #39399MattParticipant
In addition to Buddhist Wife’s tender words, a couple things came to heart as I read your words. There are a few different reasons our body can become overwhelmed with anxiety, and i’ve found a few ways of working with them. I’m not a doctor either, so if your mental state doesn’t improve or worsens consider looking into professional help.
The first cause of anxiety is an abundance of energy in the body, with no outlet. This makes breath awareness meditation tricky, because without a steady concentration we can over-breathe (sometimes called a piston breath) and actually increase the amount of energy… like stuffing a balloon that is already full. What I have found incredibly helpful for this state is a Zen trick of energy release. We can jump up and down, scream, beat on some pillows, or lay down and flail our limbs around. This gets the energy moving again.
If that doesn’t work or isn’t available (like at work for instance) then another thing we can do is pull our shirt up over our nose and breathe into it for awhile. My doctor told a close friend that sometimes when we have stress, we breathe faster than we need to and change the oxygen to carbon dioxide ratio in our body, which responds with a feeling of heightened anxiety. By breathing into our shirt, we increase the co2 concentration which helps the body shift back to normal. If this method helps, it should help after around 10-15 minutes. My friend still uses this method for her anxiety. Another thing that just occurred to me is the use of “sepia”, which is a homeopathic something or other she uses because her anxiety seemed to peak during her period (vibrating between anxiety and aggression, which she swears sepia works well for)
Again, I’m not a doctor, and so there may be other factors unknown to me that warrant additional questions and advice, but if either of these work, the results should be noticeable right away. Namaste.