Game Plan: When Panic Strikes

I had a panic attack last night. Not the kind where the world is ending and I am crying as gulp for air. Thankfully, they don’t take that form as frequently anymore. Nor was it one with an identifiable trigger that set events in motion.

No no. It was the insidious kind. I was laying in bed and the tears started to pour and I felt so overwhelmed, so burdened by existence as a result of some of the circumstances and resulting choices from the past. It was almost like claustrophobia, I felt trapped and my freedom greatly restricted. This sense of helplessness further spurred my overwhelm. I lay in bed petting my dog, balling over what my rational mind determined was no real reason at all. Even a day later looking back, I still can’t ascertain any concrete reason that triggered my sudden downward spiral.

I was scrolling through Pinterest looking at house plants just before sleep. I was relaxed. Things were easy.

Then BAM! Panic strikes.

egg power fear hammer
Photo by Pixabay on

Arlo didn’t want to be bothered. He was already asleep and being a diva, he doesn’t take kindly to being disrupted. But he’s a dog, so I picked him up and forced him to cuddle.

I also text my partner. He knows what to do, but doesn’t understand why I get like this (Hi! Me either!) He called me and proceeded to make jokes and get me to laugh and calm down. Once I got to a more stable state I said goodnight and went to sleep.

Last night is a great example of how imperative it is to have a support team and a plan for when panic strikes.

Here is how I came up with mine:

  • Pick the people.
    • Arlo is my first step. He is furry, cuddly, funny, and has endless love. Just petting him can be calming. The BF is my next one. Sometimes I need to talk through what I am freaking out about. Or I need someone sound to rationalize what is going on.
  • Brief the humans.
    • Tell them what you are going to be doing, i.e. calling them in the midst of a panic attack. And get their OK. I know some people would not be down for a call with a panicked look on the other end.
  • Try all you other self-soothing tricks and THEN reach out.
    • I am always hyper-concerned with burdening the people in my life. I know it can be frustrating and annoying to have to deal with someone who has bouts of utter irrationality so I don’t like to draw anyone in unless I truly need some help fighting the beast.

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