Monday, April 18, 2011

P - Personal and Panic - A-Z Blogging Challenge

I was seriously torn about what to post today.

Yesterday, I posted about blogging off-topic, and I feel a bit of an urge to post off-topic today. I could write about protagonists, prologues, photography. . . but I want to post about panic.

I suffer from panic disorder. Basically, this means that I periodically cede control of my brain to an alien being who is terrified of everything and thinks I'm just about to die.

I pride myself on the fact most people don't notice the difference :p

Thankfully, I no longer get panic attacks very often and they are far less extreme than they were. However, I have a few things I'd like to say about panic, in case any fellow sufferers are reading:

1. Tons of people get them. If you do too, you're not alone.
2. What panic can do to your body is unbelievable. I've had or heard of everything from heart palpitations to dizzy spells to breathlessness to headaches to numbness and tingling sensations all over. None of these are dangerous if they only occur when you're panicking.
3. There is a book I found great called 'When Panic Attacks' by Dr Aine Tubridy. She has a few suggestions for getting better which involve chakras and meditation and other things that sounded like hard work to me, so I didn't actually try any of the things she suggested. But just reading a medical doctor's perspective on what happens before, during and after was very helpful.

I debated making this post, because this *isn't* a personal blog and I don't usually share any details about life events. But panic is terrifying (the clue is in the name) so I think it's helpful for sufferers to be open about what happens, for the sake of other sufferers.

So if you're reading this, and you have suffered from panic, have some resources: Dr. Tubridy's book and a support site. You're not alone and you can get better.

Tomorrow I promise to be cheerful and upbeat - and to talk about writing and . . . oh, feck, tomorrow's letter is Q. Guess we'll have to take what we can get. . . :)


  1. I think it's great you've posted this Ellen. I don't suffer from panic attacks but I know someone who does and it's good for non-sufferers to know more about it so they know it's not all 'in people's heads' (yes my friend has been told she's imagining it!) I know this isn't a personal blog but it's nice to occasionally get a 'glimpse behind the curtain'.

    Also, this line: 'that sounded like hard work to me, so I didn't actually try any of the things she suggested.' Made me snort. That is so me :)

  2. Thanks for the comment Sarah - everyone's first panic attack is so terrifying that I think raising awareness may make those experiences less scary.

    I've had a few of those comments myself - my favourite is the 'don't be so stupid and get over it!' Someday I will work up the courage to say 'It's not that easy - after all, you can't just get over being a pain in the ass.' But that day is a long way off :)

    I can be very lazy about this stuff, but it wasn't just laziness, I actually found the medical half of the book helpful enough that I didn't feel the need to do the other half! But yeah . . . laziness was definitely a factor!

  3. Hi Ellen: I suffered from panic attacks a lot when I was a younger girl/woman. They have gotten less frequent with age, but they haven't completely disappeared. Thanks for sharing!!


  4. They say panic peaks in your twenties - one of the many blessings of getting older!

  5. I'm sorry to hear this. Thanks for all the info here though - it's not something I know of or about so this is really helpful, thank you! Take care

  6. It's great that you've posted this. *hugs*

  7. Ellen: I say that it's true to my experience. I had multitudes of them as young woman, but I think now that I am older, my body has settled down a lot (and gotten bigger but that is a story for another day).

    I'm glad you posted this!


  8. Mine's getting bigger already so I'll happily take that part in exchange for fewer panic attacks :)

    Glad you guys liked the post - if you ever have a panic sufferer in your life and have questions you can't ask them, feel free to ask me.

  9. I think it rocks that you would post this. What if a writer who doesn't suffer from panic attacks needs to write about a character who does? The information you've dispensed with here will definitely help that other writer out. So you're pretty much writing what you know, which fits the blog.

    It's a pleasure to meet you via the A-Z Challenge!

  10. Nice to meet you too Jeffrey and I'm glad you liked the post :)

    I hadn't thought that it might come in handy for characters, but there is at least one panic sufferer in fiction - Siobhan from the Inspector Rebus novels by Ian Rankin. There should be more!

  11. Very courageous to share. Important too

    Have you tried any cognitive therapies?
    CBT worked (is working) brilliantly for my depression (medication free for over a decade). I've also seen brilliant results from CBT in anxiety/panic in my working life.

    Just a thought.

  12. It's good of you to post this, Ellen.

    We don't always want to show too much of ourselves in our blogs, but from time to time, it's refreshing.

    So, Q tomorrow... shall we assume quantum mechanics are out of the question?

  13. You are so brave for posting about this. Panic is such a difficult thing; it seems like you tackle it with grace and perseverance.

  14. Well done Ellen. I think it is so helpful when people open up to others and let them know they are not alone.

  15. Al, I haven't tried CBT and they're largely under control now, but I have heard it's very beneficial so if they ever step up again, that's what I'll most likely do next.

    Thanks William, I debated whether or not to post it, but in the end I decided that if a follower was suffering from panic and wanted advice, I'd rather they knew they could contact me than battle on without any input. Not that I could be very helpful, but just knowing someone else has had the same experience can help!

    Lydia, when it happens I mostly tackle it with hyperventilation and tea and worry, but over the last few years I've found a few techniques that work for me. Thanks for your kind words!

    Thanks Ann, I think that's especially true of any mental disorder or condition. Very scary when they happen to you, but hopefully the more people are open about them, the less scary and stigmatised they become.


I love comments!