Coping with Anxiety // My Experience with Panic / Anxiety

Hello everyone! I haven’t done a personal post in quite a while, and I hope this will help answer some questions that you’ve been sending me on twitter and blog comments regarding my little hiatus from Youtube and blogging! I kept putting off this post because it’s quite personal but I think I’m finally ready to talk about it.

At the beginning of September, I had my first real panic attack. Looking back on the event, it occurred randomly without warning. It affected me for almost the entire month of September. The symptoms extended out of my head and start to affect my physical well being. Keep reading to find out about my experiences, the symptoms I experienced, and how I cope.

 

Now, I’d like to preface this with the fact that I’m normally quite a laid back, easy going, cheerful person. I’ve fortunately never really experienced any issues with my mental or physical health. I tend not to dwell on problems, and try to face everyday with a positive attitude. September saw the start of a big transition period in my life – I had just moved into a new apartment (after subletting a room in my boyfriend’s house over the summer), started my post-graduate program at a new school, had some unexpected financial issues which took out a chunk of my finances. I had just gotten back into the swing of streaming on twitch, as well as scheduling posts for my blog. My dad had just left for a 3-month photography trip around Eastern Asia, and I had to help my mom with running errands.

Just keep calm and carry on.

My half sister told me a really great saying – “If it’s not going to affect you in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes on it.” With all these events rushing at me, I decided to just keep my head down and power through it. I’ve dealt with moving and school and scheduling things before in the past, so this was nothing new.

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The First Anxiety Episode

Anyway, let’s go back to the first few days of September. My roommates and I were sitting on our couch, watching an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Earlier that day we took a day trip to the CNE, so it was nice to finally sit down and relax after a full day of walking. It was around 1:30AM. Out of nowhere, I started to feel lightheaded, almost like I felt like I was going to faint. My body immediately kicked into panic mode. Why was this happening? What caused this sensation?

A cold sweat ran down my back, and my first reaction was to stand up and start pacing. My heart had suddenly started pounding, and I started feeling waves of dread passing through me. The tips of my fingers began to tingle. I felt sick. I rushed over to the toilet and began vomiting. My mind kept screaming, you’re having a heart attack, or a stroke, or a seizure!! Even though I wasn’t experiencing pain or rapid breathing.

My mind was reeling. Where did this sudden sensation come from? What randomly triggered my sudden panic attack? I dismissed it as having a bad case of food poisoning, despite the fact that Emily had eaten the same food as me and felt completely fine. I tried to lie down and calm myself with deep breaths, but I simply could not relax. Shivers and the waves of anxiety continued to pass through me. I felt as though I was trapped in my head.

This episode lasted for about 2.5 hours. Emily stayed with me and called her sister (who is a nurse), who confirmed that my symptoms sounded like a panic attack. Eventually, I fell asleep. I woke up the next morning feeling absolutely horrible. To top it off, it was Labor Day, so everything (including the doctors office) was closed. I had some ginger tea which supposedly helps with nausea, and took it easy. My heart rate stayed at about 100-110 for the following week.

cardiologist

Cardiologist office + getting blood drawn. I was viciously scrolling through animal account feeds on Instagram the entire time the nurse was taking my blood sample.

Doctors Visits + Emergency Visit.

I live quite close to a hospital with a multi-specialty clinic, so I booked an appointment. I was referred to a stress specialist who gave me some anti-anxiety medication in case I felt another panic episode coming on. The small pill made me feel a little drowsy and calmed my mind, but my heart rate remained fast.

The following week, I experienced my second panic episode. I was sitting in class, when suddenly I felt as though the room (dimly lit, no windows) was closing in on me. I left class early, and called my mom to pick me up. We went straight to Emergency. The whole process took about 6 hours. The ER doctor examined me, took my blood test, and a quick ECG exam (I think that’s what it’s called? It tracks your heart beat / patterns.) The results came back, and the doctor said my blood levels, blood pressure, and heart patterns were normal – just fast. At this time, my heart was going approximately 114 bpm. He said it was likely anxiety, but booked me for a 48 hour holter monitor test.

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Me feeling like absolute poo – pretty sure this is the day after I had a panic attack downtown and was 99% convinced that I was having a heart attack. My mom has never had any experiences with panic attacks and was like ????? the entire time because she thought I was overreacting, which made things worse for me.

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If you’ve never heard of a holter test before, it’s a non-obtrusive test where a cardio technicial stick these little pad things on your skin. The pads are connected to wires, which are then connected to a small holter monitor box – it looks kind of like those clunky mp3 players from back in 2005. The holter monitor is put in a little fabric pouch that ties over your shoulder and sits under your arm like a little purse. I had a 48 hour monitor which meant I couldn’t bathe for 2 days (just wipedowns with a cloth), and could not remove the sticky little pads.

Cardiologist Visit

I was referred to a cardiologist for an echocardiogram about two weeks after the holter test. I had to lie on a table and a technician conducted an ultrasound on my heart – I was positioned on a bed facing away from the actual computer so I couldn’t see the results, but essentially my heart was displayed on the screen, the same way a baby looks when a pregnancy ultrasound is conducted. Occasionally the speaker would turn on and I could hear my heart pumping blood through the various valves… It was really freaky.

The next day, I had a follow up appointment with the cardiologist. He told me my heart was structurally healthy and was beating at a normal pace – I was just suffering from a temporary case of sinus tachycardia (rapid heart beat), with a resting heart rate of about 110-116bpm. The holter monitor reports were returned and reported the same results – everything was normal, my heart was just beating quickly.

Within a day of the cardiologist’s reassurance, my heart rate reduced and returned back to normal (in the 70s-80s) and my anxiety levels were greatly reduced. Occasionally I will feel out of place or on edge, but it’s not nearly as bad as when I had my actual episodes.

Depression: You don't know why you're exhausted? You're fighting a war inside your head every single day. If that's not exhausting I don't know what is.:

(image credit)

Occasionally it comes back in ripples. I’ll be feeling fine, and then suddenly this huge impending sense of doom descends upon me and my mind fills with scary thoughts, like what if my heart stopped beating, what if I faint in public and nobody comes to help me, what if I’m actually having a seizure right now without realizing it? Not necessarily realistic thoughts but they feel very real in the moment.

I find it tends to come back to me when I’m in a place with really bright fluorescent lighting. I’ve felt weird sensations of derealization while looking at pasta sauces in Walmart…weird places like that. What was once a place that I had no emotions towards become scary and unfamiliar.

Dealing with Anxiety & Rapid Heart Beat

If you, or someone you know, begins experiencing a panic attack, make sure to sit them down or have them lie on a couch or bed (in case they feel weak or feel like they are going to drop.) They may feel like the world is crashing down on them, so assure you are there with them. Make sure to give them water so they are no dehydrated. Nobody has ever died from a panic attack, even though it may feel like something else is happening.

Vagal Maneuvers – This is a technique that my cardiologist taught me. If you have a fast resting heart beat, you can calm it down by doing this simple sequence of actions. A vagal maneuver is an action used to slow down the heart rate by stimulating the vagus nerve.

  • Sit down in a chair. Push out your stomach and bear down as though you are going to do a bowel movement. Cough three times. Take a few deep breaths. Continue this sequence until you feel your heart beat slowing down.
  • Splash your face with ice cold water.

Deep Breathing – Breathe in through your nose for seven seconds, breathe out of your mouth for seven seconds. (image source)

MONQ Personal Aromatherapy Diffuser Review

Aromatherapy – Open a window for some air circulation, burn a candle that you like. I was also introduced to MONQ*, a personal essential oil air diffuser. MONQ contains a special blend of organic essential oils in a liquid base of 100% pure vegetable glycerin. Think pure aromatherapy vape pen. It’s not a cure or treatment for anxiety but I would definitely say that it calms me down. Simply inhale in the pen and breathe out, releasing a relaxing and scented aromatherapy cloud. I received 4 different scents to try out.

  • Happy – fennel, thyme, vanilla
  • Sexy – jasmine, lime, patchioli
  • Sleepy – lavender, lemongrass, valerian
  • Zen – frankincense, orange, ylang ylang

I think my favourite ones so far are happy and sexy! I’m a huge fan of jasmine and vanilla scents so these stood out to me. I really enjoyed just sitting in bed and flowing giant aromatherapy clouds… it was really calming. Each diffuser has about 200-250 puffs, which can go by quite quickly when you’re zoned out and trying to destress. These aren’t a medical solution or remedy for anxiety but I did find that the aromatherapy helped to calm me down.

Japanese Shiatsu self massage techniques

(image credit)

Shiatsu / Self Massage – there are a few different self massage and shiatsu exercises that you can do to help relieve stress and promote blood circulation. You can read the article here. The article states “Little is known about the electric healing properties of connective tissue called piezoelectricity, which translates to “pressure electricity”. This simply means that applying pressure on certain points on the body activates electrical signals in the connective tissue. These electrical signals also spread to connective tissue throughout the body, promoting blood circulation and relaxation.”

Grounding Exercises – this is more of a method to deal with anxiety and senses of derealization and depersonalization, which means that you feel out of touch with reality.

  • The 5-4-3-2-1 method helped me gain sense of things around me.
    • List 5 things you see around you. Describe them in your head.
    • 4 things you can feel or touch. What are the textures?
    • 3 things you can hear. Are they loud/quiet?
    • 2 things you can smell. What are the scents? Are they pleasant?
    • 1 thing you can taste. What does your mouth taste like?
  • Hug someone. The human skin contact can do wonders for an anxious mind and make you feel less alone.
  • Hold a hot mug of water or tea. Feel the warmth resonating through your hands.
  • Wear an elastic band on your wrist, and pull on it so it snaps against your skin.

You can find more grounding exercises here.

Yoga – I found this handy infographic with 13 different yoga poses to relax your body and help relieve anxiety.

Anxiety has probably been one of the worst things that I have experienced. It makes you feel helpless and alone. I started exercising and going on brisk walks outside every day to get a sense that I was actually moving and feeling present in the world.

I remember reading in an anxiety article that anxiety feels like a crashing computer. You have tasks and pages open with things you need to do but everything is frozen and you feel frustrated because you can’t get anything to work. The fact that these programs aren’t working affects your everyday life because you can’t finish the tasks you want to complete. You can only wait for the computer to get back into gear.

(image credit: gemma correll)

If you are currently suffering from an anxiety or panic attack, I hope your suffering resides soon. It took me almost 2 months to recover from my initial panic attack and subsequent anxiety (and I’m still not fully 100% myself.) It takes time and you will eventually come down from it. It’s scary, but remember there are lots of support forums, medical professionals, friends, and family that will be there for you!

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps you understand what I’ve been going through these past few weeks/months. I’ll be back to posting on youtube/instagram soon, probably more around Christmas when the school work load has died down a bit. One more month to go…..

xo Sachie

*This post features press samples!

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36 Comments

  1. ToriTree
    November 21, 2016 / 10:34 am

    I’m really glad you feel better, Sachie! That sounds like a horrible experience 🙁 I’ve never full experienced anxiety but I will definitely use what you’ve suggested for times when I get stressed!

    • sachie
      November 21, 2016 / 4:58 pm

      Thanks love! Glad I could help! x

  2. November 21, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    Wow – I applaud you for being so open and honest. I’ve never suffered through a panic attack, and most people just won’t go this indepth to explain this. This helps me understand it a bit more. I saw some of it unfolding on Snapchat and didn’t know how to ask without being super intrusive – so thank you for following up with a post! Sending love and kitties your way!

    • sachie
      November 21, 2016 / 4:59 pm

      Thank you!! It’s a really scary feeling and I hope you never have to experience it. Kitty squishes are the best remedy! <3

  3. Jeffrey
    November 21, 2016 / 4:29 pm

    Well wishes headed your way!

    • sachie
      November 21, 2016 / 5:00 pm

      Thank you!!

  4. Naomi Iona
    November 21, 2016 / 10:29 pm

    I’m glad you’re feeling beter. It good to know you’re not alone in this. In September and October I also felt really anxious all the time. I even experienced my first panic attack, followed my by second not much later but also my last (I hope).

    I felt really alone and not understood. My anxiety is getting better and I guess it’s always been part of me and it still will be. But I can cope better each day.

    Hope you can fully recover and take your time! I def missed you on YouTube (because you are senpai ;p) but your health is much more important

    Take care 💜

    • sachie
      November 21, 2016 / 10:37 pm

      Ahh thank you love! Panic attacks are absolutely horrible and I’m glad to hear that you’re feeling better. There are lots of relaxation techniques that make things better. Sending well wishes you way.
      I’ll be back on youtube soon so don’t worry!! 🙂

  5. Kayteal
    November 22, 2016 / 1:15 am

    Crazy, we’ve had pretty similar experiences at around the same time. I had a huge panic attack at 1AM as well back at the start of August. But I think a majority of the time my attacks tie in with my fear of vomiting :^/ If I start to feel sick, I panic, which makes me feel even worse- it really is an awful cycle. Your post has made me feel much more at ease, knowing I’m not just insane haha. Thank you Sachie, I hope we both can overcome these attacks :^)

  6. Kit
    November 22, 2016 / 6:01 am

    Sending you so much love, Sachie! I’ve dealt with panic attacks on and off for about 4 years (without medication) and it fucking sucks haha. Thanks to techniques similar to the ones you mentioned, i havent had to be hospitalized in almost a year so theres hope.

    Anyway, i wish you a full and speedy recovery! ❤❤

    • sachie
      November 22, 2016 / 7:45 pm

      It really does suck, such a terrible feeling. Hope you feel better soon!

  7. November 22, 2016 / 9:22 am

    Been a fan for years but first time ever commenting on anything. Happy to hear you’re taking the time to take care of yourself : D . Get well soon T_T

    • sachie
      November 22, 2016 / 7:43 pm

      Thanks love! <3

  8. MONQ
    November 22, 2016 / 3:00 pm

    Wow! You are such an inspiration to so many others out there who are dealing with Anxiety! We are SO happy to hear that you find MONQ helpful. Thank you for spreading the love! 💜

    • sachie
      November 22, 2016 / 7:43 pm

      No problem! It’s a wonderful product 🙂

  9. Joshua cunningham
    November 22, 2016 / 8:54 pm

    Best wishes, hope everything okay just remember what timona and pumba says hakuna matata

    • sachie
      November 23, 2016 / 1:17 am

      It means no worrriiieesss for the rest of your dayssss 🙂

  10. The Kevster
    November 22, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    I’m glad you’re doing OK and are coping well. It’s a terrible thing. I’ve been battling depression and anxiety problems for almost most of my 20’s (I’m 28 now) and it doesn’t help that I got Aspegers also. Yeah it sucks. Feels like hell. But mostly it’s due to stress and people in my life that have treated me like pure garbage. So I totally know what you’re going through and u do have the right advices on coping with it. They do help and also going to the spas like Steam Rooms, Jacuzzis, Saunas, etc help too. Even video games help, as it does help keep your mind off the things that triggers the anxiety attacks. Yeah it’s a pain but you get use to it and especially with the right people who do care. Luckily I got my family who understands my condition and sounds like your family & mates do too so yeah keep hanging in there. It gets easier to cope with in time. I would give my own email address if you want to talk about it and can give you more advice on it. But I don’t want to post it on a public forum. Anyway if you are interested, great. Just if you want to. Knowing that it’s rough and it’s good to know that someone out there is going through the same situation or has through it (and still is mostly) for years. My name’s Kevin btw from Scotland. I’m been a subscriber to your cosplay YouTube since 2015 I think (can’t really remember lol) and I think you’re great & have got me into Anime.

    Anyway just keep staying strong and stay healthy and enjoy life. Don’t let anxiety drag you down. All the best! 👍

  11. Jim
    November 22, 2016 / 11:32 pm

    I’m glad you got help Sachie. I went through this for years during and after college. I used to have panic attackd multiple times a day, heart palpitations and all. I doubt I’d still be here if I hadn’t gotten help from my doctor. I’ve been on medication and going to therapy for over a year now. I still deal with anxiety, but I haven’t had a panic attack in a long time thankfully. Therapy helped a lot more than I thought it would too.

    • sachie
      November 23, 2016 / 1:16 am

      Thank you! It’s a horrible feeling. Glad you found a solution for it, I hope you never have to experience them again!

  12. Armir Kamebraj
    November 22, 2016 / 11:44 pm

    Hey Sachie , Iv never actually commented much on the yt videos or been a lot of active , sr for that :p , i hope you recover well cuz we all need you ^^ you are full of inspiration and happiness and so much good vibes for all of us , we need you to keep being the amazing and strong sachie that you are being in this hard times , 🙂 we will always be here for you
    Stay Awesome Sachie 🙂

    • sachie
      November 23, 2016 / 1:15 am

      Thank you for the support!! 💗

  13. November 23, 2016 / 12:44 am

    I’m really glad you feel better Sachie! you’re so strong! 💪 🙂

    • sachie
      November 23, 2016 / 1:15 am

      Thank you!! 💖

  14. November 23, 2016 / 1:08 am

    Please take care of yourself, Sachie! I was there where you are a year ago and you can get basically back to normal. If you ever wanna talk, you can always reach out. And I applaud you for being so brave to share your experiences!

    • sachie
      November 23, 2016 / 1:15 am

      Thanks love! <3

  15. feizhai
    November 23, 2016 / 1:10 am

    amazingly constructive way to deal with your issues. your article was informative and a joy to read. all the best in chillaxing and may your anxiety attacks dokka ike yo!

    • sachie
      November 23, 2016 / 1:14 am

      Thank you! 🙂

  16. Ron
    November 23, 2016 / 3:16 am

    Sachie! Just another fan telling you that we got your back! Thank you for sharing this with us and always know you’ve got a bunch of us who will worry for your well being. Keep taking care of yourself and surround yourself with the people who love you! 👍

    • sachie
      November 23, 2016 / 3:40 am

      Thank you for your support! <3

  17. Bruce
    November 23, 2016 / 5:39 am

    Hey Sachie, glad to know recovery from anxiety/panic attacks isn’t a myth. I’ve dealt with panic attacks/anxiety myself and been slowly inching forward through the years. I know I came far from where I was before, but I just haven’t seen the changes I’ve been praised for.

    Reading your post and the other comments though reassures me that these problems become insignificant or treatable with the proper methods and time. I also picked up a few good techniques to use after this read (aromatherapy sounds amazing!)

    Anyways, glad to know you’re feeling better Sachie. Hope things will continue to get better for you. And thanks for inspiring me to try harder in the near future. Best of luck.

    • sachie
      November 23, 2016 / 5:37 pm

      It takes time. The body is extremely resilient. I found that improving my diet and getting a full 8 hours of sleep every night helped drastically! Therapy is always an option too. Hope you are able to find a solution soon. Take care. <3

  18. JJ
    November 24, 2016 / 5:32 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story! I consider myself to be a very relaxed and cheery person as well so when I had my first panic attack, it was a surprise. I couldn’t breath! ER said everything was normal.. Then I had another one a week or two later by myself on a long drive. I had to get my parents to meet me halfway to pick me up. Now I’m on low dose anxiety meds and it really helps. Hopefully one day, we can better enough so we can live without it or be masters of controlling it!

  19. December 21, 2016 / 4:26 pm

    Reading this made me remember my first panic attack. It was the scariest feeling in the world, I really thought I was having a heart attack! Aromatherapy and massages really do help. As well as tea!

    • sachie
      December 22, 2016 / 6:40 am

      Aromatherapy is such a relief, especially with such a huge selection of essential oils!

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