5 Tips For Anxious Minds & Panic Attacks

Today’s blog post will hopefully help some of you who suffer with severe anxiety or panic attacks. If you don’t suffer with those above things, this may be something to remember in case you ever find yourself in the situation, where you need to calm yourself down or someone close to you. The terrible thing about panic attacks is that there is no quick fix solution, no one can say ‘just calm down’, ‘do this or that’ and you will feel instantly better, unfortunately that’s not going to happen. What you can do is find ways to cope through a panic attack until you come out the other side and to try ease the symptoms. Never feel alone or embarrassed about having anxiety or a panic attack, it can happen to anyone.

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Anxiety and panic attacks have so many symptoms and they can appear different for different people from mild to severe. Here are some of the main symptoms…

♥ Intense overwhelming feeling of panic, fear, dread and anxiety.

♥ Feeling sick

♥ An uneasy churning feeling in your stomach

♥ Heart palpitations (racing very fast heart beat)

♥ Difficulty catching breath, fast breathing, shortness of breath, tightness of chest.

♥ Ringing in ears

♥ Hot flushes and chills

♥ Shaking

♥ Feeling of loosing control or going ‘crazy’

♥ Feeling faint or dizzy

♥ Pins and needles

♥ Sweating

♥ The need to remove yourself from your current surroundings

Here are some ways I think can help you through a panic attack and calm you down..

1. Take some time alone with yourself. If you’re the kind of person who wants to be alone and escape from the situation you’re in then do it. Take a second out to gather your thoughts and compose yourself.. Forget about what people might think etc, if it helps you to calm down that’s all that matter. You might recover faster and be able to return back to the situation calmer, if not that’s okay you win some you loose some. It’s okay to say ‘I’m feeling very anxious, I’m going to take a second on my own, please nobody fuss over me’ you’re human, do what you need to do to help yourself, don’t worry about everyone else, taking yourself away for a second means you may be able to calm yourself down without feeling self conscious of others watching you and being fussed over by them.

2. Take headphones in your bag and when things get too much on a train, bus, walking, in a car where ever it may be, put those headphones in and shut out the world. Play relaxing, soothing music or sounds. There is a great app called ‘Calm’ where you can pick a live, realistic scenery with sounds and music to go along with it. Focus on that scenery and the sounds, imagine you’re here, Ignore your racing thoughts and bring your mind back to the scenery and sounds on your phone.

3. Slow your breathing down. I know this is hard when your heart is racing and the panic is building up inside you making you breathe faster, but take control and breathe in and out slowly. Holding your breathes in and slowly breathing out. Another brilliant app for this is ‘Relax Lite’ the free version has a breathing counter, where you can focus on your breathing and watch a little pie chart telling you how long to hold and release your breaths and how often. You can even change the settings if the timings set aren’t right for your breathing. Forget how fast your hearts beating and focus on how much slower you can get it, don’t rush, slow everything down.

4. Take a second to take in your surroundings WITHOUT using your thoughts. Use your 5 senses, eyes, touch, smell,  taste and listening. Look around you, where are you? is there any real danger in front of you? or is your brains fight or flight responses miss firing again. No matter how scared your brain is telling you are and how scared you feel, is there danger in front of you? don’t let your brain tell you you’re in danger if you’re not. Your eyes won’t lie to you, if there’s no danger you see, your brain is miss firing. Touch something and focus on what it feels like, smell a sweet lip balm you have and focus on what it smells like and reminds you of, anything along those lines. If you’re at home light a candle and watch the flame flicker, notice the smoky smell, the warmth and how it moves. Have a warm bath, shut your eyes and focus on the feel of the water against your skin, the smell of the bubbles and the sound and warmth of the water. When your brain sends you tons of thoughts, let go  and refocus on your senses.

5. Remember you’re ok, no matter how frightened you feel during the mist of anxiety and panic. It will pass, emotions can’t last forever. Your body and brain is simply trying to keep you safe by triggering your fight or flight response, our brains can do this when there is no danger. It’s just a chemical reaction within our body’s and brains, it can’t hurt us, it can make us feel temporarily terrified but that’s all. The less fearful of what you’re feeling you are, the calmer you will become and the quicker the emotions will leave. Fearing it will undoubtedly bring more fear. Out logic your brain, you know your gong to be ok, thank your brain and body for keeping you safe when it’s not even needed.

 Don’t get frustrated with yourself. I know sometimes you feel angry about what you’re feeling because there is no reason to be feeling scared, frustration will raise your heart beat even more and stress you out. It’s okay to not know why you’re panicking, don’t try to work out why you are, think less and breathe deeper, when all those rushing thoughts pop into your head ‘why am I panicking’ ‘your stupid’ ‘this or that might happen’ ‘people will think I’m weird’ etc, ignore them, don’t entertain them this will only make them stronger and raise your anxiety levels, notice them, let go of them, refocus on breathing or any of the above steps. Being able to try to control your panic and anxiety won’t happen over night, practice makes perfect. I hope this helps someone even a little bit.

 If you have any good tips for panic attack and anxiety sufferers, leave them in the comments, lets help each other!

Stay strong,

Anna

 

 

 

A Letter To Yourself For When You’re Struggling

A while ago now I wrote a blog post on if I could write a letter to my younger self what I would tell young me from what I’ve experienced so far, you can read that HERE. It lead me to this similar idea that may be helpful for when you struggling. You can write a letter when you’re happy for when you are next down in the dumps e.g depressions getting you down, anxiety bad or OCD is being a pain, whatever the reason as a reminder that these feelings can pass and it’s not as bad as it feels right now, to give you hope when you’re lacking it. Little tips of things you’ve learnt/ know how to deal with but in that moment find hard to remember and turn to.

Blog post

Dear Me,

I take it you’re having a tough time as you’re reading this letter. As you are writing this you are feeling quite positive, you’re OCD isn’t that bad and you have been dealing with it really well. You’ve been succeeding in not seeking reassurance so much and that’s a really big step for you. I know you’re probably feeling like crap but what you’re feeling will pass. I mean those feelings aren’t that bad for you right now as you type this which means they can pass again. Remember everything you learnt at therapy and remember no matter how scary OCD is being, it’s just the disorder and you know how to beat it.

♥ Remember anxiety and panic can’t hurt you, it feels awful but it’s just a chemical reaction in your body. Try to stay calm and If you can’t it will pass, you’re not losing control, your panicking.

♥ Remember Anna ‘the more you think, the deeper you sink’ – Sharon Davies from The OCD Treatment Centre. You can ruminate about that scary, uncomfortable OCD thought you just had but you’re only going to make yourself feel worse, feed OCD and never come to an answer on whether that’s your true self speaking or if it was just a random OCD thought. You cannot think yourself into inner peace, inner peace comes through living in the moment.

♥Remember to practice Mindfulness, to calm you down when the anxiety is too much.

♥Remember there is no such thing as the thought police, there is nothing wrong with the thoughts themselves, it’s the belief you have attached to the thoughts. E.g certain thoughts mean you’re a bad person, if you don’t do such and such something bad will happen.

♥ Any compulsion you feel compelled to do relating to your OCD’s topic, ignore, it WILL be OCD. No what if’s, buts or maybe’s it will be. Any thought that makes you feel anxious relating to your OCD topic, will also be OCD, no ‘what if this time it isn’t OCD’ that is OCD speaking. A thought, followed by anxiety, followed by feeling the need to do something a certain way, seek reassurance or ruminate WILL be OCD.

Remember everything you’ve been taught and try to teach everyone else,  you can get through this.

Love from,

Positive and  currently at peace, You.

6 Useful Things To Remember During Recovery

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When I talk about ‘Recovery’ I’m on about the process one goes through when trying to ‘recover’ from a mental illness. I wrote a blog post a while back now about my thoughts on what recovery is which you can read HERE. During recovery there are going to many times when you feel like your slipping back or are struggling, it’s not going to be a pain sailing journey. I thought I’d write a few bullet points of things I think its important to remember, do or tell yourself during recovery.

Remember we all have bad days. You’re human and that means you will have bad days/weeks, where the problem you are/have recovered from will rear its ugly head again. Try to be ok with this, you are the one whose in control of that problem now, so remember what you learn’t to get rid of that problem and keep it in check.

If during your recovery process you do slip back for longer than you’d like, remember how strong you are. You have over come this problem so you can do it again. Pick yourself and the little broken pieces up, put yourself back together and regain control. You are so strong.

When you feel like giving into something that your recovering from e.g self harm, OCD rituals, avoiding anxious situations whatever it may be, remind yourself of how far you have come. Really take yourself back to how you used to feel when you used to do these things. Think about how you’re going to feel after giving in, will it be worse than not giving in, in the first place? You’ve gone so long without doing this thing that made you feel broken, keep going.

When you’re struggling and feel like giving up because recovery is too hard. Think about how far you could be this time next year if you keep going. Imagine how much easier recovery will feel this time next year, what you might be doing, what you might have achieved and don’t lose sight of it.

This applies both to giving into old habits and having bad days. Remember feelings pass. Just because today you’ve felt depressed or extremely anxious, doesn’t mean its going to last forever, feelings come and go, keep reminding yourself this and keep going until they pass. The same for wanting to perform a ritual or self harm for example, try to put it off, hours or a day later that feeling may not still be there. Its worth being temporarily uncomfortable, if it means an even bigger step to recovering further.

Help someone else who is in the mist of their struggle. Helping others and talking to people who are suffering like you once were makes you feel good. Talking about it can also be a great reminder of how far you’ve come, of what you’ve been taught and a help to someone else.

I hope this is useful to someone.

Stay Strong,

Anna

Depression: A Little Reminder

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As everyone has probably heard now,  it came to light yesterday that Robin Williams passed away after suffering with years of depression which sadly resulted in him taking his own life. I wanted to write a blog post relating to this sad subject but for positive reasons, to remind everyone about the tragic effects depression can have on ANYONE and spread awareness.

I think one thing that amazed some people was how someone who was such a funny, talented and successful person could have depression in the first place. He had a beautiful family and an inspiring career. I think this goes to show how ANYONE no matter the amount of love, success or money surrounding them can fall into the grips of mental illness. People don’t choose to have depression, yes a sad or stressful event can trigger it but genetics can also play a part, but it is a chemical imbalance in your brain. Just because you can’t see what the person has to be depressed about, doesn’t mean they can’t be.

Another huge thing to remember with someone suffering from mental illness is. they may not talk about how they feel or events in their lives they found distressing and you don’t know the ins and outs of their life. So to judge them on the small parts of their lives you may be able to see or know doesn’t make what they’re going through any less real.When I was at my lowest point I could still joke and laugh around people, it was only my family who knew the true extent to how I felt. Someone can seem fine but inside they might not be, which is why we should be kinder to those around us, we don’t know what battles they are fighting today. Would you decide someone diagnosed with heart disease was over reacting because you can’t see what’s going on inside their body and you see no reason they would have got heart disease, no. I wrote a blog post on ‘The Controversial Topic Of Attention seekers’ which you can read HERE. Often when people can’t see what’s going on inside someone’s heads think they are exaggerating or attention seeking.

 I think we need to remember there are people around us all the time suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. Someone can seem fine but inside they might not be. If someone tells you they suffer with depression or have thought about harming themselves, break down their walls, talk to them, advise them to seek help and most importantly be there for them. If you notice any signs of someone becoming depressed or you yourself have depression, please seek help, I promise you people only want to help you. I have been there and got help, I promise it’s not as scary as you think. Go to your GP and if they aren’t sympathetic, try another GP, talk to other people who have suffered with depression or are, look into private help.

Just because one person doesn’t understand or you don’t get the help you need, don’t give up and keep trying and fighting, you deserve to get better. Depression is a serious illness that can make people feel so awful they no longer want to keep fighting for their own life. We need to spread awareness not only when a celebrity sadly passes away because of the illness, but all the time. We need to stop the taboo surrounding mental illness, so people are able to openly talk about their feelings without fear of being seen as crazy and weak.

Below are links to places you can find out more information and help on depression and suicide. I have also linked some websites where you can confidently talk to people when you’re in a crisis, without needing to ring them. You can even message me on Twitter,  anonymously on Tumblr or on my Facebook page if you want someone to listen and talk to, all are linked on this page!

Links

www.samaritans.org

www.imalive.org

www.7cupsoftea.com

Depression .Vs. Sadness: What Is The Difference? 

Don’t Hide Your Mental Illness

Depression – My Story

Depression Is NOT A Flaw In Character

Stay strong,

Anna

A Poem: OCD Doesn’t Define Me

I found a poem on Tumblr that I really liked and wanted to do my own version of. Mine will be nowhere near as good but It gave me the inspiration I needed. My poem is basically about not letting a mental illness, in my case OCD, define me. It’s easy to forget all the little details about yourself when your day-to-day life becomes filled with OCD and it’s symptoms. It’s important to remember who you are and the fact that although your mental illness has become a huge part of your life there is so many other things about you. I hope you like it.

The Tumblr poem..

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My poem…

OCD Doesn’t Define Me..

I am my big blue eyes,

The music that makes me inspired,

The way I get too attached to people too easily,

I am who I am when I’m truly comfortable around you,

When my personality shines through.

I am my love for animals,

I am the way my dog lights up my eyes,

The way I sometimes talk too loud,

I am what makes me tick and laugh,

I am the perfume I wear.

I am the DVDS that I own and want to see,

I am my childhood photographs and memories,

The way I crave all things sugary,

I am the ornaments and trinkets I keep in my bedroom,

I am my tiny hands and feet.

I am my sense of humour,

The way I smile and the facial expressions I pull,

The way I walk, talk, sleep and breath,

I am the way I like to take long baths,

I am my style and the way I do my make up.

The jewellery I wear, how I style my hair,

I am my likes and dislikes,

The way I hate leaving an argument on bad terms,

I am how much my family mean to me,

I am the way I draw and the way I write my name.

The shape and colour of my lips,

I am my quirks and habits,

I am my clumsy nature,

I am my creative brain,

The way change frightens me.

I am diagnosed with OCD,

But there is more to me,

I won’t forget all the other details,

OCD doesn’t define me.

 

Downloads

My Other Poems

A Poem Little Poem About OCD

A Poem: If OCD Had Its Own Identity

Anna

OCD .Vs. Being A Perfectionist: What Is The Difference?

A while back now I wrote a blog post called ‘The Many Misconceptions Of OCD’ which you can read HERE. I wanted to do a follow-up post about this as It’s a  topic most people with OCD will relate to and I think its important to spread awareness about. I often see people saying ‘I’m a bit of perfectionist when it comes to such and such’ followed by then saying they are quite OCD. Another thing that is very common is when you tell people ‘I have OCD’, they don’t take it very seriously, I’ve had people say ‘I think everyone is a bit OCD to a degree, I am about such and such’ And although it’s not their fault they don’t understand it’s still annoying to hear when you have suffered with years of being in the grips of this terrible disease. So what is the different between OCD and being someone who’s particular about the way they do something, or a perfectionist or very organised person?

 

Perfectionist/Being Particular Examples

 When someone finishes tasks to a very high standard because they like to do so or like to achieve the best results they possibly can or they will feel agitated with themselves.

Liking things straight because you find it irritating if things aren’t.

Organising clothes in colour order or in a certain order because you like how it looks/makes you feel.

 Wanting to clean the bathroom daily, because you like it being clean. but if it HAS to be left you can leave it without much discomfort or distress e.g late for something important, so you leave the cleaning!

Your need for doing things in a particular way isn’t a must its a want to do so, and doesn’t affect your quality of living and interfere with your day-to-day life.

 

The Same Examples In Someone With OCD

Having to finish tasks until they ‘feel right’ because something terrible will happen if you don’t. Making you very anxious, frightened and most importantly you feel like you HAVE to, not want to.

Having to immediately straighten wonky things, because it causes a great deal of anxiety if you don’t, it doesn’t ‘feel right’ like that. If you leave it like that something terrible might happen!

Organising clothes in colour order or in a certain order because you feel like you HAVE to or that dread that something bad might happen and anxiety will not go!

Having to clean the bathroom daily, because if you don’t you and your family could get ill and the contamination could spread to the rest of the house etc. It cannot wait for anyone or anything, it must be done before I do anything else or you will become extremely anxious! Cleaning the bathroom is no longer a want or should, its a HAVE to or else.

You have to do compulsions and certain things in a certain way or something terrible could happen. This must to do things exactly as your OCD wants is effecting your quality of life and interfering with your day-to-day life and your general happiness.

 

As you can see OCD is based around feeling like your keeping you and someone else safe from something you consider bad and makes you incredibly anxious. It’s not a want it’s a NEED to do these things.These are just a few of the examples I could think of, there are so many symptoms and different forms of OCD. You can learn more about OCD and get more tips on how to deal with your own OCD in the ‘OCD, Anxiety & Depression’ category HERE, where you can see all the other posts related to this topic. Like I said in the related post I wrote a while ago, this isn’t people like me with OCD being bitter about having OCD, taking life too seriously or not being able to have a laugh about it. It’s about the illness not being taken seriously and knowing how it can affect us and others suffering with it. It’s about spreading awareness, so people understand these things and don’t misuse a serious illness as a word for an everyday quirk or habit.

Thank you for reading, sharing, commenting or liking my blog post, it means an awful lot to me!

Anna

 

 

Depression .Vs. Sadness: What Is The Difference?

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Until experiencing depression myself I never would have realised the huge difference between actually suffering with depression, and feeling generally sad. Not everyone, but some people have a couple of days or a week or so where they are very down and alone, and say they are ‘depressed’ or think they have depression. The thing is Depression isn’t something you suffer with for a week or so then return to your happy self, and its also not just being a little bit unhappy with life for a while. We all have ups and down and patches in our lives where we feel lost, alone, upset and like our lives aren’t going to plan, but depression is different. Its not say falling out with a friend or breaking up with your other half and not being able to stop crying for a while. Depression is something that usually takes a long time to recover from.

There is a drastic difference between normal sadness everyone experiences and depression. No I didn’t sit around every day and cry, but it did make me susceptible to crying over things would be seen as trivial. Some days I felt ok and like I was on the mend others were just awful, but I never felt truly happy, just less down than other days. You feel like there’s a black cloud floating over you. My mind felt gloomy like I couldn’t process anything and nothing could change it. Some people also experience suicidal thoughts or attempts and self harm whilst suffering with depression. Check out my blog post The Controversial Topic Of ‘Attention Seekers to read more about a topic related to that.

 I used to get so frustrated with the way I felt like doing nothing at all, I couldn’t understand why most people get tired or down and manage to carry on as normal. It made me so angry that I couldn’t just carry on like other people did. No matter how upset and worried everyone around me was about the way I was acting, I couldn’t seem to bring myself to do even the smallest things. Which I think is a big difference, normally sadness doesn’t effect your life that much, you are still able to hold down a job and carry on with things. Although its important to add people with depression aren’t completely emotionless. Everyone is different but someone can laugh, have some fun or smile etc with depression. Its just not quite the same because the depression is still there, like I said you just feel less down. You might have some ‘good times’ but looking back at them you didn’t really feel that good deep down.

Another big difference is, people with depression usually don’t go out for fun things or for boring things. I would have so many chances to get out, see people and do fun things but I just didn’t want to. I didn’t just choose not to do boring things like go to work or cleaning etc I literally didn’t want to do either.  Like in my picture above, normal sadness is where an annoying cloud is temporarily blocking the sun. Once the cloud passes the sun will be back out again. Unlike the person with depression they have a cloud above them with no sun behind it. It stops raining every now and then but the cloud is always there. I hope that makes sense to you? It did to me!

Its taken me at least 3 years to finally feel like I am getting over depression, although I am still on Anti-depressants which do aid the way I feel. If you think you or someone you know is suffering with depression contact a doctor and get help. Its one of the hardest things I have had to deal with along with my OCD. I hope this blog post helps people understand the differences between normal sadness and depression and I really do hope it made some sense! Check out my blog post  Depression – My Story to read more about my experiences. Don’t forget to check out all my other blog posts about OCD, Anxiety and Depression!

Stay Strong,

Anna