Panic Attack Recovery For Moms
Hi, my name is Graeme and I'm a mom who has panic attacks. I live with generalized anxiety disorder after having had postpartum depression and anxiety, and PTSD from a traumatic birth. And I know that I'm not alone. I know that so many of the moms who will read these words will know exactly what I'm talking about.
We're survivors. We've made it through the crisis and come out on the other side. Many of us have turned around to help the mamas behind us - to be the light in the darkness for them. We're moms and partners, friends and lovers, employees and entrepreneurs, and sisters and aunts and and and and... There are so many ways that we give to others and so many of us are doing all of it while still living with mental illness.
About half of the mamas I work with are survivors. And most of those have at least one panic attack a year. Some are healthy in many ways, are doing great, but still have one every few months. Some still have them regularly. And when it comes to PTSD, none of us can know when we will be faced with a trigger that leads to panic or flashbacks. If you're reading this and it sounds familiar please know that you aren't alone.
Hopefully you - like me - have had the help of a therapist to learn how to move through the anxiety and heal from the panic. Hopefully, you have a community of support around you. You may be on medication, you may have made diet and lifestyle changes - all of these things can be helpful in preventing or lessening attacks.
But if you're still having them - what can you do after an attack?
AFTER A PANIC ATTACK
The last few months, as the world seems to spin out of control faster and faster, I've noticed more and more posts online about panic attacks. Moms are asking specifically how to gather up the tattered threads of their day after having an attack - especially in front of their kids. And my own PTSD has been activated by news stories and videos on social media.
There are times when all of the tools I've learned and all of the work I've done still doesn't stop the panic from mounting. And there are times that the after effects are even worse. For me, and for many of the clients I work with, the 'panic hangover' can linger on for days.
These symptoms and more can be hard to shake. And there's always the fear of another attack or a depression spiral. It isn't just the minutes or hours of the actual event - there can be serious recovery time involved.
HEALING FROM A PANIC ATTACK
So how do we heal? How do we make it through the rest of our day after a flashback or a panic attack? Is there any way to speed our way through the 'panic hangover' or to avoid it altogether?
And you can learn how to do it. Each of us has different symptoms and reactions to panic attacks, so YOU are actually the perfect person to teach yourself to heal from them faster. You're the one who knows what you need. It's just that so many of us see the end of the attack as the point at which we should be 'all good' and we don't give ourselves the time, care, and support that is necessary for true healing.
But focusing on this recovery period is the best thing you can do for yourself. So go back to basics - what is it that you need? Water, food, physical comfort are all necessary, but only you know what you need first. What are the things that help you to feel better that you always forget in the moment? Getting outside, even if all I can manage is to stand outside my door, is helpful. But did I ever remember to do that? Nope!
I started turning things around by making a simple list of the things that helped me after a panic attack or a flashback. Eventually, they became two separate lists because the experiences are so different for me. It was part instruction manual and part menu - I could choose what would help me the most in the moment and remember things that had helped in the past.
Three years ago I modified my list idea to help a client create a Comfort Kit to help her through her anxiety and panic. We took my lists a step further and filled a shoebox with things that would be most helpful to her. IT WORKED.
I've been teaching clients about the Comfort Kit ever since. Now I'm making that training available to everyone. You can get it for free right here.