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Can you think yourself into a panic attack?

Discussion in 'Travel Phobias (Flying, Public Transport…)' started by Mark, May 3, 2015.

  1. Mark

    Mark Active Member

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    Since my panic attacks a few years ago I have avoided long journeys by myself where possible although this has not always been easy. I have not really told anyone I was consciously avoiding long journeys and just last week I was picking up my daughter which involved a 60 mile journey to the airport by myself. As if the situation could not have been worse, it was darkness and it entailed going through a large city to get to the airport on the outskirts.

    What happened next?

    As I was driving the car I felt cool, calm and collected and in total control then suddenly it hit me, I was in a very tricky situation which would have caused significant panic in years gone by. The more I thought of my previous panic attacks the more concerned I became about the journey ahead. As it involved a significant stretch of driving on the motorway and the main roads I was conscious of the hard shoulder often disappearing. Gradually my concern and my panic began to rise, especially when there was nowhere to pull over, and it hit home. I was potentially thinking myself into a panic attack!

    Controlling your situation

    Looking back to years gone by when I suffered from panic attacks I remembered my calming techniques, my breathing exercises and making the immediate environment as "user-friendly" as possible. So, I turned down the temperature on the car’s thermostat, I wound down the window, I knocked off the radio and began to breathe slowly but deeply. These were situations where my headaches re-emerged, those I had suffered when taking previous panic attacks, and I knew I was potentially on the verge of another attack. Where would I go? What will I do? How would I get home? These were all questions going through my head.

    Battling through

    I concentrated on the fact it was a straight road to the airport, there were turnoffs, there were misleading signposts but if I headed straight ahead I would get there. Then, disaster struck!

    There were roadworks on one side of the motorway which led to a detour taking me through a smaller but still very highly populated town. It was darkness, there was nobody about and the diversion signposts were frankly useless. I began to think what I could do, would the SatNav on my phone work, would there be signposts to the airport but very quickly it became apparent I was on my own. I then decided to pull into a petrol station and ask the assistant the best way to the airport at which point a fellow motorist pulled up asking me exactly the same question. Hey presto, someone to share the journey with!

    Help was at hand

    We decided that I would take the lead and we would take the directions given by the assistant at the petrol station. Everything was working to plan and then we stopped at traffic lights at which point my fellow motorist jumped out of his car and came to see me. He had a SatNav on his iPhone and told me there was a turnoff just down the road which we needed to take. This seemed straightforward, very sensible and immediately reduced my panic. However, I took the wrong turn, my fellow motorist went another way and I was back on my own!

    After asking two more people the way to the airport I then pulled into a service station and asked somebody else. Thankfully, the turnoff was just around the corner and from thereon it was a relatively straight road to the airport. I was late by about 15 min, my daughter and her friend were becoming concerned but I was there and the journey back, with company in the car, was easy.

    Be proud of yourself

    No matter how long ago you suffered from phobias or panic attacks they can sometimes emerge to test you again. While normally you would not necessarily have to face these head-on and make a difficult situation worse, sometimes there is no option. Personally, I felt my panic attacks emerge in my head, my physical reaction was nowhere near what I expected and I knew I could control this and avoid a full blown attack. The diversion, the lack of direction to the airport and concerns that I may be going the wrong way pushed me to the edge although I was able to control my thoughts and my actions and am proud to say I avoided a panic attack. You can do the same…………
     
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  2. Gene

    Gene New Member

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    I think that in most any situation, worry and fear can feed on itself. That said I must confess that I have not had that happen so far as I can remember. I have loved travel and flying since I was about eight years old.

    Flying around the world to me is more relaxing than a jacuzzi tub and I sleep better at 40,000 feet than I do in my own bed. Even flying the small one or two seat ultralight aircraft is more fun than anything else.
    Living in the Philippines in retirement now, the small ultra-lights give hours of fun and enjoyment.

    For anyone that worries or has a fear of flying or travel; I hope there will be a way to overcome these things so that you too will be able to enjoy the freedom that flying and travel in general can provide..
     

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  3. pixie10

    pixie10 New Member

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    I've not been flying for years due to my anxiety, but funnily enough that's never been about the actual flying itself, it's always been more of an avoidance of being in a situation where I felt trapped and couldn't leave. I think getting on a plane is often a big deal for anxiety sufferers because it's not something you can do gradually... i mean, you're either on the plane, or you're not lol! It's not like going on a bus when you can take 1 stop, 3 stops, or go on a half hour journey. I totally agree though that it's such a shame what people in my situation are missing out on around the world. I've set myself a challenge to get on a plane and go somewhere this year though! Fingers crossed I actually get on it! :eek:
     
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  4. Mark

    Mark Active Member

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    I think as we grow older we can realise the signs of a phobia, panic or anxiety attack and should hopefully be able to use breathing and relaxation techniques to control them and make sure they dont get out of control?
     
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  5. Jade

    Jade Member

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    I think you can think yourself into a panic attack and I’ll give you a strange example. When I was on the bus years ago I over heard someone saying how the bus was stuffy and it was difficult to breath. I didn’t even consider this until that person said it then all of a sudden I started to will myself into thinking I couldn’t breath ( I’ve never suffered with anything like this before). I only calmed myself down when the bus was about to stop and I knew i could get off and gain control of the situation again.

    All I can say is that the mind is a very powerful thing and you can will yourself to do just about anything. I’m going to turn this into a positive and say if we can think ourselves into a panic attack then will can think ourselves out of one!
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Active Member

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    I like your style Jade - turning a potentially negative subject into a very positive one. Good lesson for life :)
     
  7. Jade

    Jade Member

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    Thank you Mark. I think it’s important to try and stay positive especially if you are suffering with phobias and anxiety as I do feel negativity can heighten the problems of a sufferer and we need to maintain a positive outlook to keep going strong and not give up when we go through daily struggles as a result of our phobias. There is a theory that you can bring problems to your own life by being negative and vice versa if you have a positive outlook your life can become more positive. I think again that stems down to the mind being a very powerful thing.
     
  8. Mark

    Mark Active Member

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    Sometimes it is difficult to escape anxiety and phobias but in years to come many of us will look back and wonder where the years have all gone. This is perhaps one of the reasons I made a conscious decision to fight back against my anxiety and my phobias, because I did not want to see the best years of my life wasted with worry. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as that but I do think that a positive mindset offers a great foundation for fighting your anxiety and phobias in the future.
     
  9. GH0STP03T

    GH0STP03T Member

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    Very true Mark. The very thought of regret and wasted years is something that spurs me on - to get better. But as you say it's not an easy fight by any means and we should all be prepared to be knocked down a few times at least. These moments even though negative on the surface, will no doubt serve as life lessons; making us stronger in the long run.
     
  10. Jade

    Jade Member

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    I think this is a good approach and a huge inspiration to start getting your anxiety under control. However I must say it’s important not to dwell on the years you have ‘ wasted’ so far. Think of them as preparation and a useful hurdle that helped you develop and grow as a person, added to your character and proved your strength as you fought to over come your fears and anxieties. It's never to late to start trying to control your fears and start living the quality of life you want. You could make a list of things in your life your not happy about now and how your going to change them for the better.
     
  11. Beattheblues

    Beattheblues Member

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    Many motivational comments stick in my mind but one in particular “you can change the future but you can't change the past”.
     
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  12. KirstyMarks

    KirstyMarks New Member

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    Absolutely Mark, on the flip most people avoid those situations for fear of chronic anxiety relating to the given stimulus... Ie... flying :)
     
  13. KirstyMarks

    KirstyMarks New Member

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    You can "reframe" the past, so you look at it from a distance, and understand and learn from it.....

    I tell people to imagine a tree, and imagine your trunk as the issue, with lots of branches ... or experiences stemming from it.... chop the tree, the branches fall ;)
     
  14. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member

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    That is a great way to think about phobia/anxiety issues - get to the root of the problem and the rest will disappear?
     
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  15. KirstyMarks

    KirstyMarks New Member

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    Absolutely admin :) What is hard for people to understand is where it stems from.... phobias are in every time ive discussed them are a bad experience they have had in the past.... HOWEVER... often, it is you being exposed to someone else who is scared of a given thing... for example Arachnaphobia ive found in at least 80% of people i have worked with has been learned from a family member,.... but they have had no bad experiences at all with one....

    Food for thought ;)
     
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  16. Mark

    Mark Active Member

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    I will back that up with another example - when I was younger we had an old style light/heater in our bathroom (the ones you pulled twice to knock off the light and the heater, etc). I left this on one night when I was fairly young and the bathroom was boiling hot in the morning. This seemed to be a phobia of my mam who was not happy with me the next day. She wasn't nasty or anything but it stuck in my mind and for many years I had that horrible phobia of leaving something open (like a door which I had to check a few times to see if it was locked) and maybe leaving a cooker on which again I had to check a few times. I don't suffer from this any more thank god!

    One thing I would also like to ask, why is it that anxiety and phobias feel worse when you are tired - is it because your body is often in a more anxious frame of mind and you are more sensitive and finely tuned to thoughts of anxiety and phobias? I have always wondered this.
     
  17. Craig

    Craig Member

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  18. Mark

    Mark Active Member

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    Very interesting article - so tiredness probably has a bigger impact upon our lives than many of us realise.
     
  19. ratin97

    ratin97 New Member

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    intresting
     

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