How to cope with PTSD-related panic attacks? - Social Anxiety Forum
 
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 02:53 PM Thread Starter
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How to cope with PTSD-related panic attacks?


Trigger warning - PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic, sexual assault/rape.


Just over two years ago now, I went through a trauma (was raped) and the police did not take me seriously at all (partially because the man that assaulted me was a friend at the time). They told me it was half my fault, that I provoked him, and basically said that boys will be boys and that I should just "be more careful" in the future and should never hang out with a man alone ever again (which is just ridiculous). I have PTSD from the incident.

I have not properly tried to heal from it all until recently, which has caused my symptoms to grow so much worse. My panic attacks have gotten to the point where I will fly into a rage and start shaking, screaming, and crying uncontrollably. It is absolutely terrifying. I often don't even feel in control of my own body and sometimes don't even remember all of the panic attack, as though I've blacked out for small portions of time. I've tried the grounding techniques that I know (listing off five colors, scents, sounds etc. that I see in the room) but the panic attacks are so much worse than anything I've ever experienced that these techniques simply don't help. I feel I have no way if stopping them and have to just wait it out, and then can last hours at a time.

Does anyone have any tips to help?
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 09:49 PM
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Wow, sorry you had to go through that. That is totally messed up that the police brushed you off. I can't really offer much in advice. Your symptoms sound pretty severe, I think this is something you can work with a therapist on. And it would be better to start treating PTSD sooner rather than later before your symptoms get even worse. One book that a member recommended a while back was In an Unspoken Voice that deals with traumatic situations.
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 10:15 PM
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I'm so sorry you went through this. I'm sorry you're having to cope with it all now, and I understand how PTSD follows you, long, long after what initially caused it.

I've been diagnosed with it (over and over again) from abuse I suffered when I was a little kid, and from a suicide I witnessed just four years ago.

I would really, really strongly recommend that you get into therapy. To be honest, there aren't many things on this earth that I dislike more than talking about my ex-gf's suicide with my therapist. But I make myself go. And something I've noticed over the last four years is that when I miss my therapy sessions I start to have meltdowns, I start in this downward spiral. I'd really look into it if I was you.

I had night terrors, for quite a while after the suicide. It was very, very scary, I would wake up and not know where I was for a few seconds, I would not be able to shake the feelings from the dreams for the whole day sometimes. It's been four years but I still sleep with the lights on, because I found my gf in a dark room and I can't wake up in a dark room anymore. I've also had blackouts. There are parts of the day when my gf passed away....there are parts of it I don't remember. And I've had panic attacks during flashbacks before, that I didn't remember.

I think you need to talk to someone, like yesterday. I think you really need to see a therapist. I have a lot of unresolved feelings about it even four years later (self-hate, overwhelming guilt, resentment, anger, trust issues) that I can't work out on my own. I need help with it, and there's nothing wrong with asking for help. There's no shame in that game. And I hope you realize despite what police told you it is most definitely not your fault, in any way. I hope you get some help soon.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 10:37 PM
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@slightlyawkward

That's a normal reaction to that sort of trauma.

You need to remove the emotions you felt at the time of the trauma mentally. Sit down and close eyes. Then think of the emotions like fear, anger, etc exiting the top of your head, like you are venting them to atmosphere.

Then think of yourself and giving yourself a cuddle to feel better and actually physically give yourself a cuddle if it helps.

What happens is when it triggers again, you feel love instead of the other emotions. It takes doing this everyday, but you should instantly feel better mentally after doing this.

Basically it's retraining the brain back to before the trauma happened.
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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 04-26-2016, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by slightlyawkward View Post
Trigger warning - PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic, sexual assault/rape.


Just over two years ago now, I went through a trauma (was raped) and the police did not take me seriously at all (partially because the man that assaulted me was a friend at the time). They told me it was half my fault, that I provoked him, and basically said that boys will be boys and that I should just "be more careful" in the future and should never hang out with a man alone ever again (which is just ridiculous). I have PTSD from the incident.

I have not properly tried to heal from it all until recently, which has caused my symptoms to grow so much worse. My panic attacks have gotten to the point where I will fly into a rage and start shaking, screaming, and crying uncontrollably. It is absolutely terrifying. I often don't even feel in control of my own body and sometimes don't even remember all of the panic attack, as though I've blacked out for small portions of time. I've tried the grounding techniques that I know (listing off five colors, scents, sounds etc. that I see in the room) but the panic attacks are so much worse than anything I've ever experienced that these techniques simply don't help. I feel I have no way if stopping them and have to just wait it out, and then can last hours at a time.

Does anyone have any tips to help?
Hi, I'm really sorry you went through all that, both the assault and the police non-response. I think it would be really, really good if you could go to a therapist who specializes in treating sexual assault, as they know how to deal with trauma - not all therapists do. One thing about PTSD is that it is much easier to treat sooner rather than later.

I am from a violent household, and cured the PTSD somewhat myself (most of the hallucinations and overt stuff like that) by talking to myself about "this isn't real," and comforting myself. I did this over and over as the symptoms came up. Then I went to 2 therapists who helped me see that when I tried to stand up for myself in conflict situations, I was still having PTSD symptoms that I didn't recognize as PTSD. I went to a therapist who had me re-imagine the worst incidences, but by then the incidences were over 20 years ago, and I couldn't shift them.

But I have managed to totally recover from PTSD just through one basic idea which is that many thoughts are not true, and I am not going to buy into them. I will look at each thought or sound or picture and see if it is true in the present. Am I still being attacked? No, so pictures of being attacked are no longer true in the present (just in the past, which is over)- now I am going to comfort myself by relaxing all my muscles and doing deep breathing or some other healthy way of letting go of the stress that gets stored in my musculature. Sometimes if I have processed a particular thought a bunch of times, I can do a shortcut mantra of "not real, not real" to myself so I remember not to hold on to that thought.

I have had panic attacks, as well, and you can not have a panic attack and be deep breathing at the same time - many panic attacks rely on shallow breathing or holding one's breath and not exhaling fully. So be sure to do the full long exhale so you can take a good inhale again. Be sure to be very kind to yourself if you do have a panic attack. You need to learn to be your best ally and dearest friend when learning to let go of fear.

Another thing I did when I was more stable emotionally is to take a Model Mugging class - in your case, be sure to get a teacher who is known to be sensitive to people who have been sexually assaulted. I did this and it is great. I can now knock out an assailant and know how to break several bones if needed, and I can stand up to people being verbally gross. If this seems like too much, women's self defense classes are really good, too. Actually I took one of these first.

I wish I could help more. Please take extra good care of yourself!!!!
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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-01-2016, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by McFly View Post
Wow, sorry you had to go through that. That is totally messed up that the police brushed you off. I can't really offer much in advice. Your symptoms sound pretty severe, I think this is something you can work with a therapist on. And it would be better to start treating PTSD sooner rather than later before your symptoms get even worse. One book that a member recommended a while back was In an Unspoken Voice that deals with traumatic situations.
Thank you. I just started trying to see a therapist regularly (one that does EMDR, which is for PTSD), but it's hard for him to fit me in more than once every three weeks or so. Makes it hard to make any progress. Thanks for the book recommendation, I will look that up.
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-01-2016, 02:56 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AllTheSame View Post
I'm so sorry you went through this. I'm sorry you're having to cope with it all now, and I understand how PTSD follows you, long, long after what initially caused it.

I've been diagnosed with it (over and over again) from abuse I suffered when I was a little kid, and from a suicide I witnessed just four years ago.

I would really, really strongly recommend that you get into therapy. To be honest, there aren't many things on this earth that I dislike more than talking about my ex-gf's suicide with my therapist. But I make myself go. And something I've noticed over the last four years is that when I miss my therapy sessions I start to have meltdowns, I start in this downward spiral. I'd really look into it if I was you.

I had night terrors, for quite a while after the suicide. It was very, very scary, I would wake up and not know where I was for a few seconds, I would not be able to shake the feelings from the dreams for the whole day sometimes. It's been four years but I still sleep with the lights on, because I found my gf in a dark room and I can't wake up in a dark room anymore. I've also had blackouts. There are parts of the day when my gf passed away....there are parts of it I don't remember. And I've had panic attacks during flashbacks before, that I didn't remember.

I think you need to talk to someone, like yesterday. I think you really need to see a therapist. I have a lot of unresolved feelings about it even four years later (self-hate, overwhelming guilt, resentment, anger, trust issues) that I can't work out on my own. I need help with it, and there's nothing wrong with asking for help. There's no shame in that game. And I hope you realize despite what police told you it is most definitely not your fault, in any way. I hope you get some help soon.
I have actually just found a therapist that does EMDR for PTSD, but it's hard for him to fit me in for an appointment more than every 3 weeks or so. It's hard to make any progress that way. We haven't even tried the EMDR yet, as he feels I need to practice grounding techniques more before that happens.

I think I also have had PTSD from my dad emotionally and verbally abusing me my whole childhood (and he still does it, so I don't see him often at all).
It does make me feel a little calmer knowing my blackouts and memory gaps may be a normal thing for PTSD. I seriously feel like I am going crazy most of the time.

I think even though I realized what happened was not my fault, I don't always believe that wholeheartedly. I do blame myself often. I hate myself quite a lot and don't know how to stop.
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