Ok, this post isn’t about The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, although I did watch it on BBC2 yesterday,  neither is it Corporal Jones’ constant cry during a crisis in Dad’s Army. Instead it was inspired by a tweep who mentioned being struck by a panic attack this weekend.

I remember the first time I really remember being struck by one and how debilitating it was. Mum had picked me up at lunch one Tuesday from work, to Take me to my day release course in Horsham.  As we were in the car about halfway there, I could feel my thoughts closing in on me, my chest was tightening and I was trembling like I had Parkinsons and I was soon gasping for breath.  I don’t remember exactly I was thinking about or what triggered it off,  but soon mum turned the car round and we were parked up in the Dr’s car park. I stayed in the car freaking out until I was squeezed into my gp’s overwhelmed scheduled.  From my symptoms he diagnosed me as having had a panic attack, he reviewed my medication and off I went not knowing what was to come.

For the most part over the next year I had got the panic attacks under control with the help of my gp and the medication prescribed.  From time to time I would still get struck down from a severe attack,  usually bought on from painful memories from my childhood.

Anyway when I had my big Y2k breakdown I found myself hospitalised in The Priory where I received psychiatric treatment. In addition to pharmaceutical therapy I attended group and one-to-one therapy.  One such group was about controlling panic attacks. Most of what I learned I don’t remember,  but one thing still sticks in my mind, a simple breathing technique.  The objective is to focus on your breathing and take it away from the intrusive thoughts.

The pattern for everything is the count of 5.

1) Inhale through your mouth (for the count of 5)

2) hold the breathe (for the count of 5)

3) Exhale through your nose (for the count of 5)

4) Pause (for the count of 5)

Repeat several times until you no longer feel the effects of the attack.

11-12 years on I still use this technique,  and share it with friends who find themselves in the midst of anxiety.  I have also used it to help get to sleep when I have a busy mind. Anyway it may no work for you, but what’s the harm in giving it a try? What do you have to lose?

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