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Morning panic attacks (have you defeated them? tell me how!)

Discussion in 'Strategies for Success' started by Depressed in SF, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Depressed in SF

    Depressed in SF Well-Known Member

    Hey everybody, wanted to see if anyone else had the same experience as me and, if so, what you've done about it.

    Almost every morning I wake up way before my alarm (usually set for 6:30 but I'll get up at like 5:00) to go to the bathroom or something and, not only can I not fall back asleep but I hyperventilate. I thrash around in bed having a panic attack of sorts. My breathing gets all weird and I alternate between wanting to cry (often I do) and puke (has happened once or twice).

    Has this happened to any of you? If so, what helped? I know I need to get back into breathing methods (I can certainly Google some but if you have any that work for you, I'm all ears) and maybe change up my nighttime med mix (currently Lithium + Seroquel)...
  2. lifetalkz

    lifetalkz Well-Known Member

    Hello Depressed! I was plagued by panic attacks, morning, noon and night for many years. There are certain behaviors that you can engage in to respond to the physical parts of panic attacks (breath into a small paper bag, take med's, etc.). But I ended up working on the cause of the attacks (which turned out to be a total lack of self-confidence and unrealistic understanding of my powerlessness over many things) and I finally put an end to the attacks. I haven't had one in over 12 years. In short I realized that I panicked over situations that were actually beyond my control. I also believed in my heart that I was a failure and I would never be able to respond correctly to difficulties if they occurred. I was terrified of life and relationships in particular because people were always doing things that upset me and I felt that I couldn't stop them.

    The situation got so bad that I could no longer hold down a job or leave my apartment because I was so worried about things that might happen in the outside world. Once I understood that I never had control over most of the things I feared in the first place, most of my anxiety diminished significantly. I also worked very hard on the notion that there are perfect people somewhere "out there" living perfect lives and my life was crap compared to theirs. I don't believe that anyone's life is "perfect". I think we all struggle (sometimes daily) with deep insecurities and fears. Understanding that most people deal with the same deep feelings that I do, but do it differently helped me to see myself more like a normal human being and less like a freak who no one would ever want to be friends with.

    I hope that you will begin to work on the underlying causes of your anxiety so that you can start to live a life that feels much better to you! In the meantime, the breathing exercises are always useful. The other thing I used to do was keep repeating to myself in my mind that my panicked response wasn't real, it was a shadow-a memory of something(s) that happened once before but is not actually happening now. It made sense to panic then but does not make sense now. Then I'd gradually slow down my breathing until it got back to normal. I hope that there is some useful info in here for you. Good luck-LT
  3. Petal

    Petal SF dreamer Staff Member Safety & Support SF Supporter

    I have personal experience with vomiting associated with anxiety. Good news is that there ARE medicines your doctor can prescribe to reduce this occurring. It took me 2 years to get out of that zone but tbh the only thing that helped my mind was therapy. I know that sometimes anxiety can have no cause and that's a shame cos then we don't know what we need to do to fix it. Wish you the best and please talk to your care provider about it.
  4. Depressed in SF

    Depressed in SF Well-Known Member

    Hey @lifetalkz thanks for the thoughtful response, really appreciate it! Definitely need to get to the root of the issue, rather than putting a "band-aid" on it with coping mechanisms such as breathing exercises or meds. That's the ultimate, long-term goal.

    @Petal looking forward to my doc appointment to see what can be altered to my current mix that might have an immediate, positive effect.

    Gotta do SOMETHING...these mornings are unbearable. I just thrash around in the bed, breathing like a madman and, eventually, crying. Extremely difficult to bring myself to go to work when I wake up in that state. (which then turns counter-productive, skipping work doesn't make anything better, it just intensifies things)
  5. may71

    may71 Well-Known Member

    If you give acupuncture and traditional Chinese herbal medicine a shot, you may be surprised how well it works. Or not, I suppose, but either way it's worth a shot.

    In any case, I hope you find something that help soon.
  6. Depressed in SF

    Depressed in SF Well-Known Member

    Was it you that mentioned acupuncture to me on another thread? (someone did...) I'm definitely interested and willing to check it out! Will let you know how it goes..
  7. lifetalkz

    lifetalkz Well-Known Member

    Depressed-Hey there! I just wanted to add something to my earlier post......anxiety disorder is an elusive and contradictory mental disposition. It's not what it seems to be on the surface. I learned that after spending decades of time at the mercy of the disease. In my case at least, my problem really did come down to being very confused about the difference between the problems that I could control in life and the problems that I couldn't control. I wasted vast amounts of mental and emotional energy trying to solve problems that were beyond my grasp in the first place! Focusing in on only one topic of importance-powerlessness worked wonders on my recovery. I would also like to add that I did recover fully and I no longer struggle with that issue ever!! If I did it, so can you!! It wasn't an easy task to accomplish, but once I understood where my misunderstanding came from, I was able to deconstruct the illusion and change my destiny =)
  8. Depressed in SF

    Depressed in SF Well-Known Member

    @lifetalkz thank you so much for sharing your experience and I'm glad to hear that you're no longer suffering! :)

    In examining potential root cause issues...I think, for me, its always been a foreboding fear of the future. In college I was terrified to graduate and join the "real world"...since then I've subsequently been terrified of just about anything else that was "next" in my life. These days its gotten to a micro-level that makes me terrified of each day itself.

    There may be one big, giant, underlying thing to this all and, if so, I hope to find it and reconcile with it so I can be free of these panic episodes.
  9. may71

    may71 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I think it was me. I recommend it constantly, but for good reason
  10. Kira

    Kira SF Gelfling Staff Alumni SF Supporter

    I think you hit the nail on the head right there.
    Meds and breathing techniques got me through my ridiculously bad panic attacks years ago so they are essential. But like you said, it's getting to the core root of the problem. Fear of the future is very real - even if it's just about getting though the day at hand.
    Some mornings I wake up and my chest is so heavy with anxiety. I just have to remind myself that I'm safe and nothing bad is going to happen. Try and rationalize with myself. Slow my breathing and try to relax before I get out of bed.
    Also, make sure with your doctor what the best time to take your meds are. This can have an impact too.
    Good luck. There's sure to be a way that works for you. We've been there or are still there so we understand. Take care :)
    Depressed in SF likes this.
  11. BarryW

    BarryW Well-Known Member

    I have anxiety issues as well so I can relate to some of what you are talking about. One thing that I try to do is to remember the times that I was all worried about a certain thing, and then the next day something (unrelated) terrible happened and then I didn't even think about the previous issues anymore which had been bothering me for days/weeks and I felt so silly for having ever thought I had problems before that day. In other words I try to put things in perspective and remember that today's problems are not necessarily tomorrow's problems. Also this poster helps me relax by making my problems feel very small:


    When I see this poster, I can imagine that my troubles are a little tiny dot and I'm not a-scared of a dot am I?
    Best of luck fighting the anxiety my friend.
    Depressed in SF and Petal like this.
  12. drinty

    drinty I'd rather be a Cat.

    Do you get them on waking from a dream? I think I just did, it was horrid.
  13. Depressed in SF

    Depressed in SF Well-Known Member

    Good point, and something I've been working on. (if I take them too early, I can wake up early, in a panic...if I take them too late, I don't want to wake up at all, feel like a zombie, etc) Will definitely chat to my doc about it at our next appointment.

    @BarryW thanks for the perspective (literally, haha) I think what you and some others have said about "not sweating the small stuff...and its all small stuff" is super helpful, although easier said than done. :) I went through a brief phase, just after the US election (was going through lots of depression/anxiety at that time) and I tried adopting the "fuck this, why should I be anxious about my job when nothing really matters anymore...we're in a post-truth, post-merit, post-accountability world...why should I be bothered to give a fuck when so many successful people clearly don't?" thought process...but ultimately I think it was an unhealthy and nihilistic stance. Gotta find that nice middle ground..

    @drinty sometimes I'm waking from a dream, sometimes not...don't know if it's a factor ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  14. lifetalkz

    lifetalkz Well-Known Member

    Hello Depressed-One other thing that I spent a lot of time thinking about when my life was being ruled by Anxiety Disorder, was how often I had severe panic attacks (that sometimes lasted for days) over things that never happened! I would get completely obsessed about fears of things that I believed were going to happen in the future, but those things never actually happened at all! There came a point when I could no longer avoid the sober acknowledgement of that fact. That was when I started talking to my brain like it was a well-meaning, but misguided friend. I told my inner voice to stop talking to me until it was going to say something that actually made sense. Otherwise I wasn't going to listen to it's senseless garble.

    I knew that my minds intention was always to help me in some way by warning me of situations that might be dangerous in the near or distant future. But it was usually wrong about it's predictions so I had to start patting it gently on the head and sending it on it's way.....I learned to take my inner dialogue with a grain of salt. I only vaguely paid attention to it at all. Over years of time my habit to never listen to irrational fears about things that will probably never happen became so instant, I never even thought about it anymore. Today those sorts of thoughts don't even bother trying to enter my brain. They know I will never take them seriously or listen to them. Instead my mind is silent (and it's absolutely wonderful!)
  15. Depressed in SF

    Depressed in SF Well-Known Member

    Dude... @lifetalkz super proud of / happy for you..."talking yourself off the ledge" so to speak is no small feat.

    I plan to start having little mini convos with myself during these times, hopefully it'll work half as well for me as it has for you. #fingerscrossed
  16. lifetalkz

    lifetalkz Well-Known Member

    LOL!! Yes!! I know! My life has been unbelievably strange (having conversations with myself, telling my inner voice that it's full of rubbish so I won't listen to it anymore) etc. But at the end of the day it was doing odd things like that that finally made me realize that I was chasing shadows and worrying myself sick over matters that are nothing more than illusions. 99% of the things I feared never happened. Deep down beneath everything, I was terrified of having no control over my own affairs. Thoughts about how bad things could be in the future paralyzed me with fear.

    That fear came from being treated like an object when I was a child, never a person who deserved kindness and respect. I was picked up and moved around to places that made me very unhappy and no one cared. I felt powerlessness over everyone and everything that ever happened to me. It was really about control and making peace with the fact that there is very little that I have complete control over in my life, but I can still be whole and at peace with myself. It's okay to be afraid of certain things but I never let myself get paralyzed and stuck so that I can't make rational choices anymore. Healing was a gradual process that ook time, but once I got well from Anxiety Disorder, I stayed well. My recovery was permanent! Your will be too!! =)
  17. BarryW

    BarryW Well-Known Member

    So you just magically through sheer willpower stopped worrying about things unreasonably?? How??
  18. lifetalkz

    lifetalkz Well-Known Member

    Hi Barry! No, I wouldn't call it magic. Reorganizing the way that I thought about things was a painstaking and very difficult process. But there came a point when I could no longer ignore the very obvious inconsistencies that were associated with my anxiety attacks. I obsessed over situations that were typically imaginary. I feared things that I believed were going to happen. But thanks to years of almost constant journaling, I could clearly see that most of the things that I'd been terrified of never actually occurred. My logical brain could no longer ignore that fact. I'd been wasting years of time basically chasing shadows! At that point in my life I was days away from being homeless. My anxiety (which I'd struggled with for over twenty years) had prevented me from holding down a steady job or having close relationships. I was desperate for help, so I got it.

    I got help by having some very serious conversations with myself about the difference between fact and fiction. The fact was that my obsession with imaginary (fictional) problems was having a very detrimental effect on my personal and professional life. I really did begin a series of conversations with myself. I challenged myself to let go of any beliefs I might have that my inner voice was telling me the truth about things. I quickly learned that it wasn't. It was telling me what I wanted to hear (what I was used to hearing) but it wasn't telling me the truth. As I mentioned in earlier posts, my paralyzing fears were related to a deep feeling of being powerless and having no control over my life. My fears came from very real experiences that had happened to me in my past, but were no longer happening.

    I was missing the necessary skill sets to be able to incorporate a new way of interpreting experiences that made me feel anxious. That was why my unconscious mind was still firing off the same messages even though there was nothing dangerous going on. I had to learn how to trust myself so that I would have the self confidence to approach challenging situations instead of avoiding them by obsessing over them to the point of being paralyzed with fear. I turned everything around by forcing myself to do the very things I was terrified of. None of the things I'd been afraid of actually came to pass. Over time I did learn a whole new way of relating to my anxiety so that it never stopped me from pursuing any goal that had deep meaning to me. I hope this makes at least some sense to you. That's exactly how I eliminated severe anxiety disorder from my life! Once it was gone, it never came back.
    Kira and BarryW like this.
  19. BarryW

    BarryW Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the big explanation @lifetalkz. I hope little pieces of it embedded themselves into my subconscious to fix myself while i am asleep ;)

    Depressed in SF, you got this.
    Depressed in SF likes this.
  20. Kira

    Kira SF Gelfling Staff Alumni SF Supporter

    That was brilliant @lifetalkz :)
    I think a lot of people would benefit from reading about your experience and recovery. Your writing and the way you explain it is wonderful!

    Just a suggestion, I think that this would be a fantastic thread for the Road To Recovery section. So many people go there looking for advice like this. Only if you want to though. Take care :)
    lifetalkz likes this.