Sunday, September 25, 2016
Yes, I had one in college at age forty two while working on my MS. However, what prompted this is that GDs friend texted her from college. My GD is living at home while attending community college, but her friend moved to a dorm. Tonight she asked for help because she was having a panic attack and GD asked me for advice. After talking a bit about PTSD and grief, I decided to back up and work on the simple and immediate needs. After composing my list in an e-mail, I decided to save it here for future reference:
For my granddaughter and her friend:
What to do if you are having a panic attack, anxiety, anger, sadness, depression or other coping issues:
Go through the physical list first.
1) Air: Are you breathing adequately? Take several deep breaths to get oxygen going again.
2) Water: Are you dehydrated? Drink at least an eight ounce glass of water. Stay away from coffee, soda, any sugared or artificial sugar or flavored drinks while feeling angst.
3) Food: Have you eaten nutritious food or are you just consuming empty calories and processed foods? Eat some protein to level your blood sugars. Eggs, any meats that aren't processed, organic protein powder, other plant based proteins.
4) Exercise: Have you been sitting too long? Get the blood moving. Jumping jacks, wiggling, yoga. Anything that moves the fluids in your body. Then do compression exercises. Push ups, pushing hands together, punching the bed or a pillow.
5) Mindfullness: Make a list of what is bothering you. Shred it, burn it. Be ceremonial. Then, make another list of gratitudes. That list needs to be longer than the burnt list. If struggling, just start writing things you know you should be grateful for but aren't feeling at the moment. The feeling will follow the action even if it takes a few days. Post that list where it is visible.
6) Meditation and Mantras: Stretch out quietly for ten minutes. Practice meditation or prayer. If not sure how to do that, quiet your brain with a mantra such as; "Every day in every way, I am getting better and better" Another one I like is "Every day is a new opportunity".
7) Rest. Are you getting enough sleep? Turn down lights and turn off electronics about 30 minutes before you want to sleep. Take a warm bath, knit, read a boring text book, or make sock monkeys. Listen to music that is slower than your heart beat at very low volume. Mozart is good. When you do go to bed, cover all the lights. Make sure the room is dark or wear eye shades. Since taking a teddy bear to bed with you is not a good idea as an adult, find a meaningful charm, a special rock, a feather, something you treasure that is small. Just before you lay down, hand all your worries to the charm for the night. You can take the worries back in the morning. You do not need them while trying to sleep. I love the concept of worry dolls. However, I found that the worries can be handed off to most anything.
Once you get health back in order, you will find it much easier to cope with grieving, loss and PTSD. It will all still be there, but you will have the energy to deal with it.