I recently had my first panic attack and I so hope you never have the experience of one…0 out of 10, do not recommend!
And while this was a scary and unsettling experience, it’s important to me to share it with you to bring to light the continued conversation of mental health, some of my past struggles, and what’s been helping.
I share this personal experience in the hopes that you know you are not alone, and I see you.
In the past when my oldest was born in 2017 I started having intrusive thoughts. Something like, “What if the house caught on fire, what would we do and how would we get out?” And I found that repeating the affirmation, “My baby is happy, healthy and safe,” ten times in a row helped me move past these thoughts. It gave me some distance from the intrusive thought, allowed me to acknowledge it and then move forward and past it.
So, what is an intrusive thought?
Psychology today notes, “almost every new parent, at one time or another, worries about their babies getting hurt or sick. In fact, researchers report that more than 90 percent of new parents experience what psychologists call ‘intrusive thoughts,’ frightening thoughts that they don’t want to have and find troubling.”
Now fast forward to 2022 I’ve had my first panic attack. Thanks a lot Omicron! During my panic attack I had:
- A pounding heart
- My breath was really short and shallow
- I felt like I couldn’t get a full breath
- My chest felt really tight
- And I felt like my mind was going a million miles – sitting in the middle of a cyclone with everything around me spinning.
And amidst this turmoil my brain latched on to my affirmation that I used with my kids but my brain turned it around to say I am happy, healthy, and safe. At first I said it really fast, however, with each time I said it I was able to say it just a little bit slower. This affirmation during my panic attack became my life preserver.
What is a panic attack?
The Mayo Clinic describes a panic attack as a “sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Panic attacks can be very frightening. When panic attacks occur, you might think you’re losing control, having a heart attack or even dying.“
What are symptoms of a panic attack?
- Sense of impending doom or danger
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Rapid, pounding heart rate
- Trembling or shaking
- Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
- Hot flashes
- Abdominal cramping
- Chest pain
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Feeling of unreality or detachment
So, I wanted to share my experience with you because I want you to feel seen. I want you to feel less alone. I want you to know that you are so freaking powerful! And you can take an affirmation to heart that speaks to anxiety or fear, and it can be there for you in a time of need. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not a trained mental health professional, but it’s on my heart to share this with you in case this episode helps you in some small way.
If you have mental health concerns that are impacting your life, especially your ability to go about your day and care for your child or yourself, then absolutely speak to a medical professional for help.
Visit the National Institute for Mental Health Resources for Help
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- Psychology Today Article on intrusive thoughts
- Mayo Clinic Article on panic attacks
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