Panic

Beautiful Sunny Day

It’s a beautiful, sunny day here in Florida.  It is my second day alone and I am looking forward to running some errands, reading a book and maybe sneaking a walk in the park.  My first errand involves going to the local Publix supermarket to get some solid food (food poisoning during the weekend, today is my first normal day in a while).  I sit back in my car, play some 80s music and turn the corner to leave my complex.

That is when I notice it.  For some reason, my heart is pounding so loud I feel I can hear it outside of my chest.  It is, without a doubt, the scariest moment since I recovered from my ailment this weekend.  I don’t understand! Two minutes ago I was happy to be going out and now, I don’t think I am going to make it to the store less than a mile away.

I have learned to stop myself and start breathing.  I actually count how many seconds I breath in (5) and how many I breathe out (10).  Breath in – breath out.  Again.  Slow that heart rate down a little.  Make it to the parking lot.  Take another deep breath.

Ten minutes later, as I load on no good for me cereal, a water bottle, some granola bars and other pertinent snacks, I almost forgot the horrible sensation I had minutes before that the world was coming to an end, well, at least, my world.

What you just read is my description of my panic attack.  You don’t know when they are coming, how long they will last, and it always ends the same way.  I, for one, cannot understand why minutes before I thought I was going to die when I am almost skipping down the aisles of the supermarket.

Business people rarely speak about panic attacks, or any other mental health issues.  There is such a ridiculous stigma associated with the disease.  Recent studies put the number of sufferers of panic disorders at 6 million.  When you consider that the US has a population of 224 million, it is easy to see why we don’t talk about them.  It is less than 3% of the population.  It is my suspicion that the number is severely incorrect.  I, for one, usually don’t make it a habit to tell people I have them.  I also don’t take medications for depression or anxiety, because I think they are crap.  That does not mean you might not be helped by them.  I have discovered through years of experience, that I tend to develop secondary effects that are usually the realm of 5% of the population (which is why sometimes even doctors have a hard time believing me).  To give you an example, I am the rare bird that only develops the flu when given the flu shot.  Since I tend to have such horrible reactions to normal medications, I have to look at other methods to heal myself.

The reason why I want to talk about panic attacks is because to me this is important.  This is not a sexy topic and people might think you are weird.  If you suffer a panic attack, I want you to know that you are not alone, there is nothing wrong with you, and if you are female, you happen to be more likely to get a panic attack.

Even more surprising, middle age seems to be a magnet for it.  I remember a mental health expert once telling us in a chat that there is a long-standing theory that when we get to our late 40s and 50s, we look back and realize the best years of our lives are over and we did not do what we set out to do.  That is when the panic sets in.

If you look at the information from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), the evidence is clear.  Almost 60% of the people who suffer panic attacks are between the ages of 35 and 60, with the highest numbers pertaining to those of us between 45 and 59. They also cite being female as a risk factor.  I have my own theories of why that is but I don’t want to get into a debate about feminism on this particular post.  According to Psychology Today the female to male ratio is 72% female.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Women are three times more likely to get panic attacks than men.

So what can we do about this?  How can we help a friend experiencing this?  Is there any hope?  The first thing I want to repeat is that if you are suffering from panic attacks, you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you.  It is time we stop talking about mental health issues as if we were broken in some way.  You can be the strongest person or the weakest one and still have a panic attack.  If you notice a friend or yourself experiencing this particular issue, counseling can help.  Most insurance cover these expenses and if you work for a corporation, many of them have excellent services.

The last thing I want to talk about is the issue of hope.  Many people think that they might be crazy, on their way to a facility without any hope of recovering.  It is interesting to note that most people experiencing panic disorders can see relief in 12 months.  There are many treatment options available.  If you are like me and don’t like medications, tell your doctor.  There are other ways to deal with it and she should be well-informed and capable of providing you other options available.

As for me, breathing exercises always work.  I happen to recognize the symptoms and lucky for me, they don’t happen very often.  In fact, the last panic attack I had, happened about 3 or 4 years ago.  I have a routine I follow to recover and I take very good care of my mind.  I want to repeat again, do what works for you and don’t be ashamed to ask for help.  You will get better.

If you have any other suggestions or tips on how you deal with panic attacks constructively, leave your comment below and share this article with others who might experience this.  I am not a doctor.  I am an expert on me.  I know what works for me.  Make sure you get the help you need and get ready to thrive once more.

Metamorphosis – 6th Day

On this, the sixth day of Metamorphosis, I want to talk about something that I noticed yesterday.  More than ever, I saw a lot of people posting certain messages on social media.  The message on these posts were about how sad this time of the year is for some people and to please have a heart and be supportive of them.

It is very hard to go through the holidays once a loved one passes away.  We all know this.  The first year is usually the hardest.  There are some people who stay there and don’t move on and for those people, I want to ask a question.

What do you think your loved one would tell you if they saw you getting sad for them?  Would they be angry?  Would they feel sorry for you?  Would they tell you to go on living?  This is a tough question to answer because I am sure that you don’t want to hear the answer.

I believe that our loved ones want us to live life to the fullest.  In my opinion, you honor your loved ones by enjoying life and the holidays.  I am not saying that you should forget your loved ones or ignore your own pain.  What I am saying is that you need to smile through your tears and figure out what you have to do to keep living.  Do you have to see a therapist to treat your depression?  Do you think that you need to work out to wake up those endorphins?  Is it time to let go?

Don’t you think that people who die would do anything to be here with you?  Do you really think they want to be the source of your unhappiness?

Honor your loved ones by living fully.  Here is a short reminder.

If you have any suggestions for others on what worked for you, leave those in the comments below.  Thanks.

 

We’ve All Being There

Me walking
The Start of the Journey

Today is one of those days when I unburden my soul, no matter what anyone thinks about it.  The last six months have been a test and I don’t know why would I need to be tested.  People get sad, they feel anxiety, they feel cornered and alone, and bad news just aggravate those things.  We’ve all being there and yet we all act so perfect and capable.  Ignoring feelings or pushing pills or drugs or alcohol does not make the pain go away.  Those behaviors just add more trouble.

I am what the experts call, clinically depressed, I guess.  I ask you, if your partner of 27 years gets diagnosed with cancer at the same time as your dad, while your mom is also showing signs of forgetfulness, would you feel happy?  I doubt it.  The thing is, I tend to be one of those people who keeps on moving until I break.  That does not make me stronger, that just makes me stupid.  And before you think I should not criticize myself, I am not name calling, I am being realistic.

Life is too short.  One minute you are here and the next one you are gone.  It does not matter if a person gets hit by a truck and dies instantly or if they linger in a coma for months and then move on.  The actual act of dying takes a second and so does the act of breathing for the first time.  The length of the journey in between the first breath and your last could be 10 years or 100.  In terms of how long the Earth has been here, it is just a very short journey.

Because life is too short, I decided I did not want to spend however long I have, been politically correct or proper with everything and everyone.  I don’t believe in breaking the laws.  I don’t steal, I don’t cheat people out of their money, I am not interested in owning a gun or shooting one.  I do want to stop coloring inside the lines.

I have always believed that every person has a right to be themselves and do what makes them happy.  And yet, somewhere between my 21st birthday and my 48th birthday, I followed the rules and did everything I did not believe in.  It did not make me happy, it brought up many feelings of inadequacy and it drove me nuts.  I am done playing nice.

So, what does that mean.  In the interest of full disclosure, I want to let my family and my friends know that I have every intention of telling my truth.  If you are embarrassed to have a nut job for a friend or family member, you can always say you don’t know me.  I don’t care if it embarrasses you, I care that I have probably caused half of my mental issues by trying to conform to your version of me and that has to stop.

The second thing this means is that I have no intention of purposely putting you on a spot.  Your name will not come into my page unless you say it.  I don’t have anything bad to say about my friends or family.  They are who they are and they have to stand on their truth at some point.

The third thing this means is that this is a bully free zone.  I have been bullied all my life.  From the first time some idiot called me a witch, to when I was in my teens and started dating a guy that was the property of some girl (in her head because they had broken up years before I even met them), to the time a boss decided that she was insecure and planned to destroy my career because she did not want to be discovered as the fraud she was.  All these people and many more haunted my dreams for a very long time.  I forgive those I mentioned and the many more that I did not mention in this paragraph.  Insecurity and ignorance is something that makes people do stupid things.  Unfortunately your insecurity made a hole in my heart that made me want to conform, to be normal.  That was my mistake and I cannot blame you for having that much power over me.  I gave you that much power and now I am taking it back.  Bye Philicias.

This is not a democracy.  This is my kingdom.  Therefore, if I ever read or see something I don’t like, I am going to delete you.  I will, from now on, delete you from my pages and my life if you act like an idiot.  I have absolutely no problem with people disagreeing with me.  But I do not want some person saying “for the sake of honesty” and then proceed to insult anyone on my pages, be it here, on Facebook or anywhere else.  I am not your punching bag and none of my friends are.  You can then say that I am censoring what you can say.  That would be incorrect.  I am curtailing how you say it.  If you tell me that you think I am wrong and then proceed to tell me why, that is an opinion that can be debated.  You telling me that I am a moron is insulting and not debatable.  I’m not a moron but in your world I guess I would be, therefore, not debatable.  So, offend me or anyone on my pages and you will be deleted and blocked.

I don’t have time to entertain trolls and bullies.  I also don’t have time to entertain lies.  If you would like to know more about what makes us tick, stick around.  While you wait, leave a comment below with what stage of the journey you are in.  Are you still hiding behind what people want you to be or are you playing the game for yourself?  Leave your comment below and stop by our Gofundme campaign to donate $5.  This will help us continue this journey the way we want to.  Thanks.