Your daughter is crying out from the other room. It’s 2 A.M. You run to soothe her. Then, pain. Your heart is bouncing around in your chest. Your body is shaking. You feel cold. Your mind races. Heart attack? Am I going to die?
This happened to me several nights when my daughter was a baby (she’s almost 2 now). What I learned later was that I was having panic attacks, most likely from a swelling of anxiety, my high blood pressure, and the jet of adrenaline from hearing my daughter scream in the middle of the night. But as someone with a history of medical incidents (kidney stones, bells palsy to name a couple), these episodes were terrifying and, no doubt, compounded my anxiety about my own health and mortality.
Every night was a reminder that it could happen again. That, at any given night, my body would cease to rely on rational thought or my will to remain calm and rest. And these attacks would also make it hard to sleep, which then compounded the anxiety and lethargy further. And my wife couldn’t really understand what was happening to me, and I couldn’t really talk to anyone at work about it. It felt like a battle I was fighting on my own.
I eventually got medication for my anxiety, and the panic attacks have gone away for the most part. I did have an episode not too long ago, but it seemed to help that I had an idea of what was happening to me. But these traumatic experiences have left me with an indelible impression: mental health is no joke and it is a problem. It’s further exacerbated by an inability to communicate what is really happening in our minds and bodies, and how the two are connected. How can people understand the feeling if they’ve never really experienced it?
If you are experiencing these things:
- If you are struggling with anxiety or have had panic attacks, look at this site for a few tips to help.
- See a professional. Talk with a doctor or a psychiatrist. Or both. More help, the better.
- Talk through your anxieties with a close friend, spouse, or family member. Give names to what’s troubling you.
- Be willing to try medications, both natural and prescribed. (This has helped take my mind off of the attacks, and kept me from fixating on it – which would make me more anxious)
- Understand you are not alone, and that there are a lot of people struggling with this.