When Things are Overwhelming: My Story of Panic Attacks, Meds, and the Man 👆🏻

I don’t know what I would have done without that pill last night. 💊

Lorazepam.

⦶ I was actually too afraid to take one for the longest time. That’s the nature of the beast I guess. Anxiety seems to put you in hyper-vigilance mode and even the things meant to help you can seem like the enemy.

This magic pill has saved my butt a few times. Last night too. Grateful.

⦶ Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an either-or sitch. When I’ve called out to God He has helped in some way. Even in the midst of this last panic attack I could sense His presence. Sometimes He’s seemingly absent so it’s simply by faith that I know He’s there. Then there’s times, the best of times, when He’s so spiritually tangible I can almost feel Him. Last night I sensed Him in the form of my son’s powerful prayers and the calming presence of my husband. Regardless, He never leaves us. There’s a comfort in that even when going through the deepest, darkest trials.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

— Hebrews 13:5

⦶ Have you ever felt you weren’t going to make it?

Me at 1:00 am — “I need an ambulance!! Stat!! I’m having a heart attack!!!”

⦶ There’s been times when I’ve been ill and after crying out to God my symptoms suddenly disappear and peace comes upon me—this is the power and love of my God. He’s truly good! Do you know Him?

⦶ I wish it was always that way, that easy, but it’s not. I mean, He remains good but symptoms don’t always just disappear at the drop of a hat, in fact, more often than not they persist! My prayers and the prayers of others don’t always bring immediate healing and unicorns and rainbows. And last night was one of those times. I thought I was going to die.

Panic Attacks:

⦶ Panic attacks are one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced. I’ve landed in the ER with electrodes hooked up to me because of them. I’ve suffered in silence for decades. They’re literally the worst. They’re like nonsensical terrorists of the mind and body that attack when you’re least expecting it. They especially don’t make sense when they wake you from peaceful slumber and leave you physically unable to breath or function properly. This seems to happen more when you’re subconsciously overwhelmed. In the quiet time, when you’re asleep, the body, brain and mind have time to catch up to one another. And then BAM. There it goes..

Symptoms:

  • Sense of impending doom or danger
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Shortness of breath or tightness in your throat
  • Chills
  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Feeling of unreality or detachment

⦶ My worst symptom is the racing, pounding heart rate with a hint of thoughts of impending doom—a mental health cocktail mix I hate to the core. So what’s up?

Being Overwhelmed:

⦶ This has definitely been a year for feeling overwhelmed. First with COVID, lockdowns, separation from friends and family, and then for some of us loss or gain of work, other life transitions, and illness. All of these can just catch up to a person, like me, and come out in the quiet times. Pair that with the fact that feeling easily overwhelmed seems to go hand in hand with anxiety and you have a cycle that needs to be broken. Let me just say there’s NO condemnation in this. Here me again if you suffer like me. There’s. No. Condemnation. We are all doing the best we can with what we have and sometimes our brains and bodies are just plain old exhausted and/or lacking a balance of necessary chemicals. Don’t suffer in silence. Tell someone. Get help. And don’t add to the stigma.

There’s. No. Condemnation.

⦶ I haven’t always been able to keep it real in the past. Or so I thought. In my last season, being in formal Christian ministry in the charismatic church was a great honour and blessing but also difficult in many ways.

⦶ Could I really be me? I mean, what would people think if they knew one of their supposedly fearless leaders that believed God healed and even prayed for others and saw them healed, had to still take some psychiatric meds to keep sane? Simply put, whether by my own doing or the unspoken one that comes with the territory, it was a battle I couldn’t do anymore. Be real. Be open. Be you. There’s more power in authenticity then there is in hiding and that’s when real help and real ministry can happen.

⦶ God can work through really difficult situations. I’ve seen it time and time again making me think of that scripture about His ways and thoughts being different than ours. Now THAT’S so the truth, isn’t it?

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

—Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV

⦶ Last night I had been in research mode. With an upcoming rush hysterectomy in a week and half, I don’t feel prepared for it. To be honest, I don’t feel prepared for the trip, for the COVID risks, for the surgery, for the meds, for the downtime, for the possible complications, for homeschooling afterwards, for the results of my pathology, for anything. I tried to keep away from the support groups that really just freak a person out more than anything (which was a good choice but not completely helpful). After putting the research away and nodding off into dreamland it still happened. My heart kicked into a 200 bpm nightmare jolting me out of bed and down the stairs to some sort of relief that didn’t exist. Reality began to disappear before me. My limbs went numb and I began to shake and lose control. The storm was upon me again. I was definitely overwhelmed.

Have your felt overwhelmed this past year? You’re not alone! Take a time out. Rest. Read. Get off social media. Exercise. Laugh. Play. Pray. Breathe deep. Take care of you.

How to Get Out of a Panic Attack:

⦶ You can find lots of techniques and theories for getting rid of panic attacks on the internet so I won’t repeat them all here. But these are honestly the only ones that have helped me personally over the decades. None are foolproof and sometimes you have to try and try again, mix and match, and press on. NOTE: the key is to ask your Doctor first. I am NOT a medical professional, this is just what I do or have done in the past.

  • Take a fast-acting anti-anxiety med like Lorazepam (be cautious – ask your doctor first and don’t take if you are prone to addictions)
  • Take antidepressants (longer term solution)
  • Move. Run. Walk. Pace.
  • Take a deep breath or 2 or 200 in cold fresh air
  • Pray and have others pray for you
  • Splash cold water on your face
  • Bear down (can help with racing heart)
  • Eat some protein and have a drink of juice
  • Get a distraction – tv, movie, have another person talk to you
  • Touch something. Hard.
  • Do deep breathing – inhale slow, hold, exhale slow
  • See your doctor and/or therapist

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 4:6-7

⦶ Do you suffer from panic attacks? What has helped you? Will you try any of the above pointers? I’m rooting for you in this strange time of life and would love to keep you in my prayers. Send me a message or comment below! If you’re suffering please seek professional help. I’m here with you giving you a virtual hug tonight. We’ve got this!! He’s got us!!

Tiffany x