- Expect to feel vulnerable afterwards. You have had a scary experience. Get what support and comfort you need.
- Remember that all of this is part of recovery. Many survivors have had these experiences, got through them and got control. It doesn’t mean you’re going crazy.
We can take a more detailed look at each area, adding further tips to the ideas above.
Panic is a feeling of extreme anxiety. When you’re having a panic attack your body may seem to be out of control :-
- Breathing becomes fast, like you can’t catch your breath.
- You get sweaty hands, or you sweat all over
- Your heart feels like it’s racing.
- You may get a hot flush.
You may start to think,
- I’m going to die
- I’m going to have a heart attack.
- I’m going to collapse.
- I’m going to make a fool of myself.
- I’m not safe.
- Something terrible is going to happen.
- I’m going crazy.
In panic, fast breathing and adrenaline cause a number of unusual physical sensations. It’s a bit like the feeling when you go for a job interview or sit your driving test. Only your panic attacks are more likely to be caused by memories of your abuse than anything occurring in the present.
You may try to get away from the situation you’re in. Of course if something really is happening to you which is frightening – such as you find yourself in a dangerous area late at night – then it’s right to feel scared and try and get away. But panic also occurs when nothing dangerous is happening.
Panic attacks are hard to get rid of, but their frequency can be reduced until they rarely, if ever, occur. You can learn to get through them safely.
Here are some tips :
- Breathe slowly and deeply. This is especially important in panic. Fast, shallow breathing causes a lot of the unpleasant sensations.
- Try to control your thoughts. They can get out of hand in panic. Think up something reassuring you can say to yourself if you feel a panic coming on. Some ideas are:
- I’m safe
- This will soon pass
- This is a panic attack, there is nothing physically wrong with me.
- Sometimes doing something can jolt you out of the panic. This can be anything from washing the dishes to listening to music. Experiment for yourself and see if anything works. Anything is OK as long as it doesn’t involve you hurting yourself or anyone else.