By no means am I a mental health expert nor do I have any training in supporting those who have suffered with anxiety but what I doooo have is first hand experience and a great understanding of how crippling it can be.
I’ve had a lot of people kindly message me saying how brave it was that I was so open about my experience. I can’t tell you how happy that made me because it was TERRIFYING, but it is also encouraging me to be even more open so I can hopefully create a place where being open doesn’t have to be brave, a place where it can be normal.
So fight for flight? What the heck is it?
Well my definition which again is not directly professional, just my experience..
You know when you’re crossing the road and its a bit risqué and you kinda dart across the road then suddenly this huge bus appears out of nowhere and your stomach feels like it has just left your body and face planted the floor? So you know how that makes your heart beat FASTER, and how it makes your stomach DROP and how for a split second you feel real DANGER.. because you are in fact in ‘real’ danger.
Or when you wake up in the middle of the night and you actually think someone has broken into your house and the fear you feel inside is actually crippling because you are fearing for your life. Why wouldn’t you? It’s the NATURAL human response to danger. It pumps adrenalin into our bodies and we get ourselves prepared to FIGHT, FLIGHT, OR FREEZE.
These are all the way our minds and bodies should behave in danger. However in my opinion this is exactly what happens to people when they have panic attacks or when they’re anxious. Their mind and body will behave as though there is impending doom on the horizon even if there IS NOT. We will experience EXACTLY the same physical and mental symptoms as someone who is in real life danger whilst we are in panic mode. This could happen on a bus, on a packed tube, in a sandwich shop, at your in laws or in your bedroom. It doesn’t matter where it is and it doesn’t really have to have a proper trigger, sometimes it happens. Just. Like. That.
Whenever I had a panic attack I truly truly truly believed that I was going to die in that moment, it was the realest thing on the planet. And what made it SO MUCH WORSE was that I couldn’t blame it on a life threatening situation, it just happened to happen out of nowhere. It was embarrassing, sometimes I’d hyperventilate, my hands would shake, my body temperature would rise, and the fear that went through my body was like no other I had ever known. What was worse is that the people around me kept telling me there was ‘nothing to be afraid of’ yet the feelings I had were so REAL to me.
My body was having a healthy human response to fear yet in a situation where it was not necessary nor appropriate and that is why It was so challenging because it didn’t make sense.
SO.. what can we do about it? Or what can the people around us do about it?
- Acknowledge that you or said person are having a response to fear in a setting which is not truly fearful.
- Accept that what they are experiencing is real and may not seem terrifying to you but is for them.
- Help them control their breathing, slowly and calmly.
- STAY wherever it is that you are, leaving the situation may create a fear of the event/location.
- Remind them, over and over again that this can and will not harm them in any way.
- Know that anxiety is a reaction and experience rather than a definition of your personality.
The best thing in the entire world is having your fear acknowledged by someone in the moment. All the things that triggered panic attacks for me now seem teeny weeny tiny tiny. They were never ‘real’ fears, my body just got into a habit of panicking when it didn’t need to. And amazingly, those things don’t happen anymore and i’m almost completely free of anxiety. It doesn’t define me in the slightest, in fact if anything it has only brought more happiness into my life because I truly know what peace feels like.
If you are experiencing panic attacks and anxiety, before you do anything PLEASE buy
“AT LAST A LIFE” by Paul David, it saved me and was my holy grail of healing.
I have a million other things to suggest but that’ll come in Chapter 2