Monday, October 02, 2006


Yeah, I know, I've been slack. Over a week has passed and you've not seen one new article. If truth be known I've still been busy. I have plenty of stuff I can write about, filling in the gaps, providing a little reading material for your pleasure (or pain), but I wanted to continue along the lines of writing something more instructional than philosophical. Well, that plan's failing because I haven't been involved in anything much SA related this week. Don't worry, I'll get back to it. I think the instructional side of things can make a big impact when used, I just haven't had the time to devise any so called instructions, so while I'm slacking someone asked me to write something up on panic attacks, so here goes.

No doubt people will be boiling over like a whistling kettle when they hear me say this, but panic attacks are a rather simple affair in comparison to the subtleties of SA and other anxiety related disorders. It's still one of the most debilitating, but the way it presents itself is easy to understand and the solutions are almost as loud as that jumper your granny knitted for you last Christmas.
Where do they come from?

If you read Refresh Yourself, the article with the panic chart, then you'll grasp a better understanding of how the panic operates in relation to stress. And this is exactly where they begin in almost all circumstances (other circumstances include chemical changes within your body, possibly influenced by drugs or bodily functions such as your thyroids).

It's interesting to note that many people first experience panic attacks and anxiety as they are reaching adulthood. For many of us, until we reach adulthood we are virtually stress free. Sure, we have all the pressures of teen life, but for the most part teenagers are pretty resilient and will sail through these years thinking they are under loads of pressure, yet enjoying every minute. Then, one day you reach an age where you will find an addition to your list of concerns: you become responsible for your own life. That age is different for everyone. It may even be that you came across that realization before even entering your teens. For most of us it is somewhere between the ages of 16 and 20. I was 18 when I first started having panic attacks. This is a stressful time for anyone, suddenly bombarded with people telling you what you should and shouldn't be doing with your life, what career, what partner, what house, what car, how to pay you bills....'Bills! You're kidding, right?'. Yup, you're on your own, they're your bills now, no more being pampered, it's at this age when you open your eyes to a very real and scary world. A world that you are now responsible for.

That's only one thing that will raise your natural stress levels. There's a zillion and one reasons to get stressed and you will do that at many times in your life. Perhaps all of it! Almost every time, panic attacks are the product of continually rising stress, and let me tell you, that stress can be very subtle in its approach. It took me a good while to learn to monitor my own stress, but the ability to do so will repay you with much needed rewards. I'm getting ahead of myself here, but prevention is always the best medicine and if you can catch it before it bites you will make it a lot easier on yourself. Don't let that stress reach boiling point, it will catch up to you. You're busy? It's your life... Stress breeds panic and anxiety.

What to do

If you're reading this, then I would assume you already have panic attacks. Still, don't disregard the advice above, it will come in handy later on when your panic begins to ease off. If you are having panic attacks, then you need to know a little truth:

  • There is very little you can do for a panic attack for the time it is present.
You can pray to God, you can repeat your affirmations one thousand times, you can do your deep breathing... Some of these things may help take the edge off, don't get me wrong, but once your panic is in flight it becomes unreachable. The first thing you have to do is accept this fact. Let the panic come over you as it pleases. The irony here, is that if you can truly accept your panic, it will leave. It's only there because you fear it. As long as you're looking for solutions you are being led by your fear, looking for a way out. There isn't a way out, there's only a way through. On that path through you're going to be absolutely ****ing terrified! Be terrified, give yourself permission, then carry on with what you're doing. You don't have to ignore it either, just let it be, for that moment in time it will be a natural part of your being, merely a feeling.

If you're having trouble in specific scenarios then it's wise to face up to them. Take yourself into that position, and let the panic come over you. If you run and hide, then this fear will be recorded and logged under this scenario, rearing it's head each time you go back. It's important to face these fears, step by step, with the littlest and most manageable step first.

Claire Weekes is a well respected and highly recommended author on the subject of panic and anxiety. Her general teaching is put into four main categories:

  • Facing
  • Accepting
  • Floating
  • Letting time pass
Since panic attacks are most often triggered by an association to an event, it is important to face the very thing you fear in order to re-program this negative association. You then need to accept this fear rather than frantically try to escape it which will only serve to elevate the fear in your mind. 'Floating' is a word Claire Weekes uses for accepting and getting on with what you're doing, passing through the panic with the greatest of possible ease. If you fight the panic, it will flight back. Of course, afterwards your body will be drained and sensitized to your recently overwhelming levels of anxiety. As with anything, you need time to return to your usual self.

I know how difficult this is myself, it's truly awful. But if you can follow these steps, then you can overcome your panic. It certainly won't happen overnight, I know it took me a good while, but it's there for the taking. If you're having a real problem with this and you want to know more, pick up a copy of Self-Help for your Nerves by Dr Claire Weekes, she has a great mind for explaining this stuff far better than I can.

I don't feel I've given way to any marvelous insights here, I would love to write more, but no time at present. I will be getting back to the SA stuff as soon as possible. If anyone has any links to helpful material regarding social anxiety, then please let me know.


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