Me: I am going to have a heart attack! Let’s get the ECG done, or else it would be too late.

My rational mind: No, it can’t be a heart attack. RELAX!

Me: I’m unable to breathe, and my chest hurts. It’s definitely an attack. 

My rational mind: If so, gather courage and seek help.

Me: No, I can’t do this right now. Granny is hospitalized, and people are already worried.

My rational mind: Everything will be fine.

Me: But it doesn’t seem to be fine. I can’t take this. I feel I am going to die.

This is a trailer of the conversation going in my head before I had a full-blown attack.

No, not a heart attack, but a PANIC ATTACK.

As you can see, a panic attack overpowers your rational thinking and injects terror into your mind.

You start imagining the worse without apparent reason.

Suffering from anxiety for long and choosing to ignore — not a great idea, trust me — I’d pushed myself to a state where I couldn’t take it more.

So, I am writing the story to help you understand how a panic attack may seem and why it’s essential to seek help early.

What Is A Panic Attack?

A panic attack is an episode of intense fear appearing suddenly, often without warning.

This attack typically lasts for 10 to 20 minutes or even for an hour in extreme cases.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Lightheadedness
  • A feeling that you may die
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Tingling or numbness in hands and feet
  • Palpitations or a racing heartbeat

Events That Triggered a Panic Attack

Generally, any stressful event, such as a family member’s death or witnessing a traumatic event, may cause a panic attack.

Some other causes include:

  • Phobias
  • Chronic pain
  • Thyroid problems
  • Other mental health conditions such as depression
  • Anxious personality
  • Family history of anxiety or panic disorder

Coming back to my condition…

Multiple causes may seem to have triggered the attack.

If you have read my previous blog, you will know that I have an anxious personality.

Besides, my father had a few anxiety episodes when my grandfather expired at a very young age.

Along with this, the following chain of events was responsible…

(Traumatic event 1)

In April 2019, my brother-in-law suffered a heart attack.

I got a call where he described his condition, and I knew he was having one.

Obviously, I advised him to get admitted immediately.

While on my way to the hospital, I could hardly breathe.

To make it worse…

His 6-year-old kid was sitting sadly in a corner, feeling lost seeing his father crying from pain.

This further triggered my anxiety.

My chest started hurting, and I felt I had a heart attack myself.

But, I had to handle the situation there and not complain about my problem.

Breathing exercises came to my rescue.

I thought things would settle soon.

Did they? NOT AT ALL.

The coming week was crazy.

I couldn’t focus on my work, was not interested in talking to anyone, and felt like shutting myself in a room and cry, which I was unable to do.

Just when I was trying to cope with this, something worse happened.

(Traumatic Event 2)

It was 8th May morning, 6 o’clock, when my phone rang.

My cousin was on the line, and he told me that my grandmother had a seizure and couldn’t talk.

(More about my grandmother: She is a 75-year lovely lady with a history of brain tuberculosis and seizure episodes for which she was hospitalized before as well).

Worried, I rushed to see her.

I still vividly remember that day. 

My uncle gave her a nebulizer as the oxygen levels dropped below 90 (the ideal level is between 95-99).

Now, this was a bad decision as she could aspirate the froth and have aspiration pneumonia (a type of pneumonia when you aspirate vomitus or spit that inflames your lungs).

I immediately made her lie on my lap.

In the next 30 minutes, she got about six seizure attacks, the last attack being worse, where she turned blue and oxygen dropping below 90.

We rushed her to the hospital.

I couldn’t take this but couldn’t cry at the same time.

The next three days were the same where she was unconscious in the ICU.

I tried crying to vent out my emotions, but I was not able to. 

On the fourth day, I guess I couldn’t take it.

Guessing serotonin levels were all messed up.

I cried and cried and just couldn’t stop. 

I felt as if I was having a heart attack and that I too will need admission to the hospital (Crazy, right? But that’s how anxiety works)

Reality Check

Being a medical student, I thankfully realized that I might be having a panic attack.

The crying spells were horrible.

For the next 30-45 minutes, I just cried uncontrollably.

I had a doctor friend who helped during this time.

He put me on medicines, but they take some days to show their effect.

During those days, even simple tasks of taking a shower or talking to someone felt impossible.

The worst thing was visiting my grandmother in the hospital. I would get flashes of those events, making it difficult for me to cope.

Some more days passed the same way, with nausea, crying spells, chest pain, and a choking sensation.

Gradually, the effects of medicines kicked in and my condition started improving (more on this in my next blog, stay tuned!)

It’s A Wrap!

A panic attack is an acute state of fear that may paralyze you. During this state, you may not understand what’s happening. The best thing to do is to consult your doctor and SEEK HELP immediately!

Also, don’t leave your anxiety unattended.

If I could soar, so can YOU!

 

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