Anonymous asked: Sjana, I really hope you have the opportunity to read this, I suffer panic disorder, have since I was about 14, I've learnt to cope with difficult situations which im proud of, but my biggest hurdle of all is an overseas trip.. which im doing next week! and im so excited! but i'm starting to really doubt myself, and im so worried I will have a panic attack on the plane or over there.. please help me.. :(
Response: Wow - I am so proud of you for going on such a big adventure, AND I am so proud of all you must have done to get yourself to this point in life. it really can’t have been easy, but you did it - so high five ! so that suggests to me you actually have the skills to handle a panic attack, am I right ? I think maybe what you are feeling is excitement and curiosity and even a feeling of being really alive/ Unfortunately those feelings can feel exactly like anxiety in our body and sometimes we misinterpret them as something bad - when really they are quite the opposite.
So in regards to the anxiety about having a panic attack on the plane or overseas, try, for the purposes of this little exercise, to EXPECT to have a panic attack. You must know yourself pretty well now and know what the “early warning signs” of one are. So expect that, and plan now what you are going to do about it, how you are going to take control. Do you use breathing or mindfulness in any other situations? Try keeping some Minties in your bag and if you get the early signs of panic, grab a mintie open it and try sucking it or chewing it into the tiniest piece you can still feel in your mouth. And while you are doing that, offer the person next to you one too. Challenge them to a mintie paper tearing competition to see who can tear it into the longest single strip, and maybe tell them you are doing this to stop a panic attack because you have learnt to control them.
Something else you could do, is at the first signs of one just discreetly start writing/tracing letters and words on your leg with your finger. Notice what each letter “feels” like - you don’t even have to watch what you are doing. You could even “write” a letter to me with your finger on your leg, telling me you are ok, and how excited you are and how silly writing on your leg feels, but that it is weird because it is working and you can’t even notice the feelings now, they have gone. But keep writing and tell me how you are going to really write to me when you get a chance and make me laugh with your silly version of what you are doing, or describe to me some of the interesting personas around you on the plane,and then you will laugh to yourself and know you got through it.
So expecting a panic attack and planning for it can reduce the need to worry about whether it “might” happen and frees up a whole lot of headspace that you would have used for all that worry and stress. Save that headspace for some superficial worry like which of your favourite (but totally impractical for travelling) pair of heels you are going to pack. Expecting the thing we fear gives you confidence to deal with it and means you can spend more time now thinking about all the good things and exciting places you will go and people you will meet. It lets you be curious about how amazing the whole experience might be.Hope this helps.
Bon Voyage and have the adventure of a lifetime.
Love and light,