I was motivated to write this blog because my instincts tell me that there is going to be an increasing number of people across the world who are going to be suffering anxiety and panic attacks in the coming months/years due to the fallout of the global Covid-19 pandemic and the associated economic crisis. The purpose of this post is to to raise awareness for any new sufferers which may not be able to understand what is going on with them if they indeed suffer severe anxiety or a full blown panic attack for the first time. My perspective is not that of a medical professional but as a long term anxiety sufferer who is soldiering on, having finally only last year taken the necessary medical advice seriously and been able to get a handle on the condition. I am living in a better internal state because of this so wanted to share it with others at this time of great uncertainty. Without the necessary knowledge it can be quite easy to confuse the physical symptoms possibly with the symptoms of other illnesses which could then magnify the problem and cause the anxiety to increase.
Shortness of Breath is a common symptom and with this being one of the main symptoms of Covid-19, I think it is important to highlight!
I first started suffering anxiety and panic attacks back in 2016, I know it occurred as a culmination of unresolved and deep psychological issues which existed within myself. The problem was that at that time, I did not have the foresight to know this and instead in a wave of destruction… blamed it on everyone and everything I possibly could rather than brave up and face my internal issues. It resulted in a destructive phase in my life where I lost everything which mattered to me (the people you lose! material objects are always recoverable!) as I pushed them away and chose the wrong antidote in trying to suppress the upward anxiety curve by reverting to alcohol as a form of escape from my own thoughts. The occurrences in my experience started from a build up of work/life stress, fear, insecurity and a lack of control of things that were occurring externally in my life. Feeling like I was being backed into a corner by a whole host of problems, my physical being started to go into a primitive survival mode and the fight or flight instincts kicked in. Prolonged periods in the mental state of fight or flight mean vastly increased over thinking as you are hypersensitive to everything that is going on around you. You assume danger is upon you and begin to harbour a breeding ground for long term anxiety disorders.
We are going to be in the Covid-19 and recession bubble for sometime and cannot avoid it so if we stay in a fight or flight state for a long period then our racing thoughts will start to manifest as physical symptoms. When the mind is overloaded with such thoughts like “will I die?”, “I cannot breathe”, “Have I got shortness of breath” or “How I am going to pay my bills” and they are not brought into control… things can quickly cascade into a full blow panic attack. People with long term anxiety disorders do not bring this upon themselves as the illness becomes deep rooted. When you have a real anxiety disorder it continues to occur for unknown reasons. I know from experience that it can occur randomly in a day and you have to batten down the hatches and just let it pass otherwise if it takes control of you it can result in a full blown panic attack.
The occurrences were always the same for me and started with an imminent feeling of doom and helplessness and then rapidly developing into feeling like I was going to have a heart attack or could not breathe. You then find yourself consciously over focusing on your breathing patterns and heart rate and quickly become fixated that something bad is about to happen to you or your loved ones.
Getting A Handle On It
The Covid-19 pandemic is stressful enough and coupled with the imminent recession has really heightened anxiety across the world.
However, in each battle whether against Covid-19, mental ill health or any other real threat to your well being that you will face in your undetermined life… it is going to be fought ultimately by you as an individual. To be well equipped you will need to prepare with the right tools and coping mechanisms to be able to come out of the other side without any permanent damage. There are going to be times when you have to be forthright, on the attack and proactive and there are going to be times when you have to be cautious, self aware and ultimately interested in some degree with your own well being and self preservation. As I have learned myself, you can only help others if you can firstly make sure you are fit and ready to do so. I am not afraid of death but I am afraid of living an unfulfilled life where I did not reach my potential.
If you are suffering from anxiety which is associated with the external pressures such as Covid-19 and cannot get a handle on it then please be reassured that there is an abundance of good advice out there and medical assistance is available. A good place to start is to to talk about your problems with others and openly say what is going on in your mind rather than letting it build up until you implode.
God Bless the NHS!