A DOG MADE ME 'SHAKE IN MY BOOTS'
WHAT IS A PANIC ATTACK
A panic attack is a sudden, brief episode of severe anxiety that usually occurs for no obvious reason but may be triggered by stress or illnesses such as depression. Although attacks can be physically frightening, they are in fact harmless. They can come on in response to frightening situations, but often come on "out of the blue" .This is what happened with my first panic attack.
This is exactly what happened to me when I experienced my first panic attack. I had just finished eating my lunch in the park across where I worked. However, I was on my way back to the office, when a large dog appeared from nowhere. He was a big, black and rather scary animal and I thought the best thing to do was to just ignore him. However, he had a different scenario in mind. I decided to turn around slowly, and walk in the opposite direction. I had seen this done exactly like this on the TV. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way for me. Afterall, that is all acting on TV, this was real and altogether very scary indeed.
MY FIRST PANIC ATTACK
As I had turned around, the dog had advanced closer and by this time he was snarling and showing his teeth. It was at this moment that my heart started to beat a little faster and I was feeling quite anxious. The dog was obviously picking up on my fear, which is something that they say not to do, "not show fear". Well, it was too late for that. I was petrified and he knew it. My heart was starting to beat even faster still, my palms were getting sweaty and I was getting quite dizzy by this time as well. As he started to get closer and his teeth were showing more, I felt like I was getting the symptoms of a anxiety attack and tried to stop myself from getting too worked up. However, I was having a lot of trouble keeping control of my emotions .
WHAT CAN I DO TO GET THROUGH THIS MESS I AM IN
As I started to get palpitations, and felt lightheaded , I knew from what I had read that I was in trouble and having what felt like some sort of "Panic Attack". As much as I tried to slow down my breathing, all I could think about was the dog and how vicious he looked. He was looking at me as though I was 'HIS NEXT MEAL'. Oh my God, I though I am in a real pickle here. As I leant up against the wall to try and steady my now shaking legs, which were now beginning to numb up as well, I said a pray and asked God to "Please help me, send someone to save me from this vicious, snarling and very scary animal, who was looking at me as though I was his lunch.
Just when I was starting to think that I wasn't going to be saved, like they do in the TV shows, and God must be too busy to come to my aid, a man appeared behind the dog. Straight away he realised what was going on and immediately phoned for help. Within minutes, the animal control truck had arrived. "I was saved, God was listening to me afterall". They fired a tranquilizer dart into the dog's rump. He gave a loud yelp, which shook me out of my shoes, then after what just seemed a few seconds, he fell on the ground, surrendering to the effects of the tranquilizer dart. My heart rate started to slow down, and all the other symptoms were slowly abating also. The relief I felt when that man arrived is still so vivid in my mind.
As they put the dog in their truck and drove away I thanked the man for arriving just in time. He said I was very lucky he arrived when he did because he had intended to go another way and when he got to the intersection, there was a holdup so he turned and went another way, and that's what led him in the direction to where I was being baled up by the now very drugged, scary black dog. Well, they say "God works in strange ways". I thought it was best to keep these ideas to myself, but when you think about it, it was more than a co incidence for him to turn up just in the nick of time. I always believe "Things happen for a reason" and this was definitely proof of that, well I think so anyway.
After the experience that I had just lived through, I decided to do some research into Panic attacks and this is some of the things that I found out in my search. There are some simple steps you can take to lessen attacks.
- The first step is realising Panic Attacks are the result of the body's release of normal " fright hormones" in response to anxiety. What is hard to work out is why and when they occur.
- Panic attacks usually reach a peak within 10 minutes, last anywhere between minutes and half an hour and include at least four of these symptoms:
- Palpitations (heart thumping or racing)
- Shaking or trembling; Shortness of breath or feeling like you are choking
- Chest pain/discomfort
- Nausea or Abdominal discomfort
- Feeling dizzy or Light-headed
- Feeling as though things are not real or of being detached
- Fear of losing control, going crazy or dying
- Numbness or "Pins and Needles"
Rarely, some of these symptoms can be caused by heat, or respiratory problems,or unusual hormonal disorders, so it is important to seek medical help if you are in any doubt about PANIC ATTACKS. These attacks can be self-managed, since they resolve on their own.
TRY THESE THINGS TO PREVENT PANIC ATTACKS
- DIET. Avoid stimulants such as smoking, caffeine, alcohol and illicit drugs, all of which can trigger attacks.
- REGULAR EXERCISE. This can make good use of the hormones of panic and lessen attacks.
- RELAXATION. Work at this one - a relaxation CD, Tai Chi, Swimming, Meditation, Yoga , just whatever works for you.
- POSITIVE SELF -TALK. Remind yourself that you are going to be OK and the attack will pass, and find ways to distract yourself from whatever it is that is causing you to have the attack.
- BREATHING EXERCISES. Make your breathing slow and deep, without over breathing. Try holding your breath for at least 10 seconds at a time.
PLEASE, SEEK HELP IF YOUR PANIC ATTACKS are beginning to interfere with your life. I suggest you see someone who specialises in anxiety. This is what I did and this I found, was the best thing to do.Sometimes, medications can help, but I suggest that you try other measures first. Possibly things such as Meditation, Yoga, Listening to relaxing music and Tai Chi could be suitable ways for you to learn to cope with your own attacks.