Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Prevent Panic: Have a Game Plan
Quick update. I didn't go back on my medication. I was unable to get ahold of my doctor for several days because of their weird work hours. I swear doctors are the only people that can tell you to come early for an appt. and then have you sitting there for an hour just to see you for 5 minutes if even that long. Why don't they cut back their schedules? My doctor is only in the office 3 days a week, so if you have a question for her on a Wednesday - Thursday tough luck! So since I was going to have to wait a couple days I decided to do my own research. I looked up Zoloft for pregnant women and didn't like what I saw. Most people try to wean off for the third trimester and since it takes a few months to really kick in and get in your system, I would have to wean off right when it would start working. So I decided it wasn't really even an option for me.
I was having a really bad and stressful week, but once I got through it my anxiety naturally subsided and I am feeling much better lately. I have gained around 8 pounds or so and that makes me happy. If only I had this appetite all the time!
However, last weekend I had a girls night out with the in laws. My sister in law planning it called me up to let me know we were going out to dinner beforehand. Sure my anxiety raised a little at hearing those words, but thats ok it always does. Then she continues to walk on eggshells in front of me about how we don't have to if I don't want to. If I would have more fun not going that was cool too, etc. This is because I have had several panic attacks around her so she knows my situation. But just her behavior of trying to make me more comfortable was making it worse! I could feel the anxiety rise and all I could think about was how this was something I should be nervous about, after all listen to how she thinks I will have a problem!
I had an hour before I had to leave. So I went and got my trusty book The Anxiety Workbook that I talk about so often and flipped through my favorite pages. Remembering a comment from a recent reader about bringing notecards with you containing positive affirmations, I did just that. I wrote on my hand three quick steps to help me if I started to panic:
I knew if I started to panic during dinner I wouldn't have much time before it would spiral out of control- especially when I am so out of practice. So the first thing to remember if I panicked was to accept that I was having a panic attack and not let that frighten me more. The second thing was to do some deep breathing exercises and the third was to distract myself by holding a baby that was coming, or counting backward from 100 by 3's. That was my game plan.
I think its important to have a game plan when you go into a situation you are nervous about beforehand. Come up with what you will do if the worst case scenario happened. For me, usually just having a game plan in my pocket (literally) or on my hand is enough to not even make the panic come around which is what happened at this dinner. Was panicking on my mind? Yes. Sometimes just thinking about panicking is enough to get the attack started. But I was more in control because I knew what to do. I made it through the night unscathed and I had a BLAST. I was so glad I went and faced the scary parts so that I could get to the really fun parts. Plus by going and not giving in to the scariness, it helps to lessen the overall fear attached to the event. Everytime we give in to a fear and not go somewhere because of it, that event will become even more fearful because we revel in the safety nets of home or wherever your safe zone is. So next time you are scared to go somewhere or do something because of your panic, remember that eventually you have to go otherwise you will be giving in to your fears, making them loom larger. Prepare yourself in advance with a game plan, and give it a shot. You might actually enjoy yourself.
P.S. If your panic attacks are severe then I recommend getting professional help before attempting to immerse yourself in fearful situations.
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