Have you ever experienced the feeling of not being able to breath. You can breath, but you find that every breath you take is a struggle, and you feel like you're having to breath extra deep just to fill your lungs. You wake up in the morning and are thrilled with the feelings of normalcy and then gradually the breaths become deeper, harder and before you know it you're struggling. Now imagine living with this for days, weeks and even months. This is what Anxiety feels like.
I remember the first time I experienced a full on panic attack. For months I had been feeling like I couldn't breathe, and then one day at work it happened. My chest started to close up. I couldn't catch my breath and before I knew it my hands were tingling from oxygen deprivation. I thought for sure that I was having a heart attack.
I was rushed to the hospital by a co-worker and then rushed into the ER where I was hooked up to heart monitoring machines. After what seemed like forever, a nurse came into the room, told me to put a pill under my tongue and take a deep breath because it was just a panic attack. I remember how much I wanted to get out of that hospital bed and slap that nurse silly. If I was able to take a deep breath obviously I would.
I had lived with Mental Illness for decades and at this point had never experienced the side effects of anxiety. I definitely was not prepared for what the effects would be on my life. I had been suffering the effects of not being able to breathe properly for months without knowing that Dyspnea or shortness of breath was in fact one of the symptoms of Anxiety Attacks. The other symptoms included: Lightheadedness, Nausea, Heart Palpitations (irregular heart beat), Tachycardia (racing heart), Chest Pain, Sweating, Parasthesia (weird skin feelings), Headache, and Depersonalization (detachment from ones mind & body).
As you can tell, having any of these symptoms on top of feeling like a crazy person was just about too much to handle. The great thing that I did learn along the way though was that the best way to cure the feelings of not being able to breathe, was to do just what that nurse had told me, to take a deep breath.
I've learned very recently the amazing power of Breathwork and Mindfulness. Here are some other coping techniques that can help:
- Recognize it for what it is. You're having an anxiety/panic attack.
- Exercise, I know seems crazy when you can't breathe but it works
- Close your eyes, listen to your surroundings
- Muscle Relaxation practice, tighten and then relax alternating muscle groups
- Find something to Focus on. Candles can be great for this.
- Think of your happy place. I know that sounds corny but it releases tensions.
- Use relaxing fragrances. Lavender oil is especially effective.
- Repeat a Phrase or Mantra. "This too Shall Pass"
- Consult your Doctor for Medications that may be appropriate.
So if you live with anxiety, know that you aren't alone, and know that even when you feel like the world is pressing in on you and you can't catch your breath This too Shall Pass, and You Got This!