Post Natal Anxiety Part Two | Gaining Control Of Panic Attacks

It’s taken me two months to write this second part and my now 4 month old baby is talking himself to sleep in his cot.  I guess thinking about my mental state all those weeks ago is still difficult to do but hopefully I can finish it all tonight.  If Cypress stays asleep that is.

So I had just seen my doctor who had put in place a Mental Health Care Plan for me.  I asked him what to do about our current living situations.  I wasn’t sure if to learn to deal with the anxiety, I needed to FEEL it or if I should do what I can to not feel it while I learn to manage.  He advised that allowing myself to have panic attack after panic attack was definitely not a healthy thing to do.  How was I to care for Cypress when my brain was trying to shut my body down?

So we reluctantly went home and packed our things to head back to Chris’ parents house for a while.  I didn’t know how long we would need to be there this time but I knew it wouldn’t be a few days this time.  We took our time.  Had a nice lunch, packed everything we would need, tidied the house, watered some plants and got in the car to leave.

I wasn’t driving at that point and I remember the feeling of helplessness as Chris drove me in my fragile state to what I considered safety.  Never in my life have I felt more vulnerable and out of control of what was happening to me, my mind and my body.  Not a nice feeling for a head strong control freak.

We walked in the door and there was Chris’ mum, waiting for me.  I crumbled in her arms and sobbed that it didn’t work, I still couldn’t be at home and I must be such a failure.

Chris and I were going through our own rocky patch.  The pressure of what was going on, not being at home and the worry of what this extreme heat would be doing to the farm caused more tension than we had ever experienced.  I felt like I had let him down and crushed his dream of being at home with me and his boy.  He withdraw into his own state of internal turmoil, not wanting to discuss how the situation was affecting him and choosing to switch off all emotions as a way of coping.  I of course, took this as a result of me and my actions, further adding to my state of ‘what the fuck’.

I woke the next morning knowing I just HAD to pull through this.  I couldn’t live there forever.  Mum and her partner had come to Queensland from South Australia in mid December for Christmas and had stayed for the birth.  Of course when things went pear shaped, there was no way Mum was leaving until I was back on track and by now it was mid February and there they were, still camped out in their caravan in that horrendous Qld heat. (Thank fuck for Mums right?)

Hanging off my neck, fingers and wrists were an assortment of crystals, every morning I would spray essential oils, and I had a few tricks up my sleeve to get on top of the panic attacks before they took over.  I’ll share them in dot point so that if anyone you know might benefit from them, it’s a less daunting way to read them.

How I gained control of my panic attacks:

  • I identified the physical trait of a panic attack building.  For me, my ears burn and then a prickling feeling runs from my head to my toes.  When I feel this, I leap into action with one of the following.
  • “Breathe in calm.  Breathe out panic.”  This helped SO much and has saved my ass many, many times.  I close my eyes and do deep breaths while saying this mantra.  Sometimes I’ll visualise the “yukky” feelings blowing out in a big black cloud of smoke.
  • Hot showers.  My attacks would mostly hit first thing in the morning so I would make sure every morning Cypress and I jumped in the shower together.  The skin-on-skin with him and the concentration required would pull me out pretty quick.
  • Chamomile tincture.  Lucky for me a family member had been making this for a while to deal with their own anxiety.  It’s super easy to make (here’s how) and I would carry a dropper bottle with me everywhere.  A good squirt under the tongue would calm me within a few minutes.
  • Connecting with someone.  This sounds so lame but I would hold Chris’ hand.  I would rub my fingers through his and focus on the rough and smooth patches.  We would sit quietly and breathe deep.

I don’t know how much science there is behind my methods, but for me they work.

The hospital had put me in touch with the Mental Health Department who phoned me every second day to see how I was doing since being discharged.  When they called the day after we arrived back down the coast, they decided to send out a Psychologist and a Nurse to make a home visit.  This lady was awesome!  I loved her.  We had a massive chat about what I was going through, how I was feeling and the methods I was using the cope.  With the support of my Mum, I opened up and shared all those dark thoughts you don’t dare tell anyone. 

All but one.

Click here to read Part Three.

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