The Crippling Panic Attack

“No amount of me trying to explain myself was doing any good. I didn’t even know what was going on inside of me, so how could I have explained it to them?”
― Sierra D. Waters, Debbie.

Back in the early nineties I was working in a fast food chain as a morning manager. I was going through a rough time. I didn’t know what was happening within me at that time, but a sudden rush of complete panic would wash over me. It was like a was staring at the meanest guard dog and frozen in my tracks.

There was a walk -in clinic just around the corner from where I lived and went to see a doctor. I explained to him how I was feeling and he gave me a prescription for Prozac. They seemed to work but they left me feeling dazed all the time.

I quit the job and moved back into the Kitchener area into a bachelor apartment. A new grocery food chain had opened just down the block. Since I was having trouble coping in crowds I decided to have a friend take me there around midnight. I was doing fine with the shopping and was nearing finishing up. Then a horrible panic attack hit me, the worse I have had to that time. The “fight or flight” kicked in, I turned leaving the cart full of groceries and ran back to my apartment.

For those who have never suffered a panic attack would find it hard to understand. I am not sure I even have the words to describe it fully. They seem to come from out of nowhere, no rhyme or reason, they just hit you like a medicine ball taking the wind out of your body. They leave you frozen on the spot with nerves jumping at every movement around you.

Here is what Anxiety and Depression Association of America writes about Panic Disorder:

Panic Disorder Symptoms

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least four of the following symptoms:

  • Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
  • Feelings of choking
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint
  • Chills or heat sensations
  • Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
  • Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself) Listen to this podcast.
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying

I have learned over the years on how to handle a panic attack should they hit while I am out doing shopping. I just stop wherever I am at, start concentrating on my breathing with deep breaths then exhale. I do this until I feel calm again. I do not stop to consider what others may be thinking about what I am doing.

Panic attacks though not seen, except from a person’s reactions, are so very real. They bring on a sense of danger, horror, even feeling like you might die of a heart attack.

So dear reader if you or someone you know suffers with Panic Disorder you have my sympathies! For those who do not suffer, but, know someone who does, please be patient with them, try using calming words to help them focus and bring themselves back to calm.

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  1. Angie

    I’ve only had a couple of panic attacks (thank goodness!) and they weren’t as bad as some have to endure. I had one really bad one a couple of years ago and at that moment I knew I was going to do whatever possible to avoid them in the future, not that we have complete control of them. I started working on breathing and changing my thoughts and started meditation. It takes a lot of practice and patience.
    Do you still suffer from them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rts – Facing the Challenges of Mental Health

      Yes I do. I still cannot shop if there are many in the store. The way they pass you from all sides will trigger an attack. So, I go early in the morning if I am able to do so. The difference now is I can manage them, that is the tool people need. Learning to manage them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Angie

        It’s a tool I wish I had sooner, though I’m still working on it as well. It’s good you know the trigger because I believe that’s the first step in really learning to manage them.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. rts – Facing the Challenges of Mental Health

        I agree with you Angie! Everyone wishes they had it earlier to manage them.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. nirajshah2003

    This is so true! Having a panic attack can be so frustrating and hard. I have had some and as you said, sometimes it feels like you will die of a panic attack. We should be understanding to those with panic disorders. Thanks for sharing this!

    Feel free to read some of my blogs 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rts – Facing the Challenges of Mental Health

      I will take some time to browse your blog. Thank you for sharing!


  3. V

    Oh god, I know this feeling all too well. I’m sorry that you’ve had to deal with them so severely in your life. It’s so hard to deal with and get through. I’ve never had prozac, but I can totally see how medications to help control panic can make you dazed, confused. Oh and tired. Tired to. Thank you for sharing that kindness and empathy is how you can help people. Too many people don’t realize that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. rts – Facing the Challenges of Mental Health

      V, Prozac at that time use to be called “the happy pill”. Going through panic attacks are horrendous at times especially the first couple of times when you have no idea what they are.


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