Hi there. This is Abs, and I am going to sit with you for a bit while we get this anxiety under control. If it helps, you can close your eyes and hear my voice, or, if you’d prefer, you can read along on your screen.
Before we begin, let me just say that I know how uncomfortable you are right now. It’s really awful to be taken over by anxiety but, I promise you, I have been there many times, and I am 100% confident that you will get through this episode. I am going to help you. You are not alone.
First, take a breath in through your nose as deeply as you can; then release it through your mouth with a whooshing sound. This is a calming breath—the intake of oxygen signals your brain that it needs to send out some “feel good” chemicals. Let’s see if we can get those to kick in.
Take another breath.
Now, this is going to sound weird, but try not to resist the panic—don't try to cut it off or stop it in any way. Panic operates in a cycle: the more time you spend trying to stop it, the more intense it gets. You know how they say you have to ride the wave instead of fight it? Well here is your wave...just go with it. You will not drown.
Take another breath.
Next, start talking to yourself—out loud works best. Tell yourself, “this too shall pass” or “I am okay.” Keep saying the words over and over again.
Are you still talking? Good. Now try to make yourself more comfortable. Loosen anything constraining you, like a bra or tight jeans or even a hair scrunchie. Naked, if possible, is good.
Okay, last step: cool down. Panic tends to produce heat so grab a cold washcloth or icepack. Splash cold water on your face and neck. Blast the a/c. If it is cool out, you may want to take a walk.
Keep repeating your mantra and stay cool (literally) until your body starts to regulate.
I suffered from aerophobia (fear of flying) for years–I wouldn’t get on a plane for any reason. I missed weddings, funerals, parties and family get-togethers, but I just couldn’t do it. I would get so sick in the airport, I couldn’t even go to the gate. Then, I started taking an Ativan (1mg) the night before my flight and another one an hour before my flight. I was very groggy, but I was able to get on the plane. If I needed to, I would take another half of a pill during the flight if I started to get panicky (or if there was turbulence).
At first I flew only short nonstop flights. 2-3 hours max. But, gradually, I increased my distance until I was finally able to fly from Florida to California. I continued to rely on medication to fly for a few years, but, now, I fly drug-free and everywhere!
Now if I could just get over my Katsaridaphobia (fear of roaches)! not joking–I really do suffer from that phobia
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