Allgemein Stories

How I deal with my panic attacks

In the past months (or maybe years) I experienced a lot more panic attacks than I had ever before. I never really took care of myself and dealt with my mental breakdowns but now I realized I had to. So I started to do these little steps to calm myself down and now I want to share this story with you.

Disclaimer: I have not been diagnosed by a professional pyschotherapist, psychologist or medical doctore. All the steps you will find in this video are completely based on my own individual experience. Please take this advice with caution.

If you are seeking for professional advice, please contact your local Mental Health Services or go to Mental Health Europe to find the Helplines in your country. If you live in Vienna, you can go to the website of the city Vienna and find more information about their mental health Services.
More Links are provided at the end of this article.

My story

2018 was a difficult year for me.
A lot of things have changed and it shifted my way of thinking. It was the year whenI realized I have some issues with my mental health. I only realized that when I started to have mental breakdowns in moments where I lost the total oversight of my emotions and my body. I couldn’t control it. It happend in moments of complete and total stress and anxiety. I felt the pressure of the whole world on my shoulders.

Once it happend with my friends before going to a night club. In that time period it was very rough for me because I was very stressed out. I worked a lot, had to study for my exams, took care of my relationship with my boyfriend and also had other obligations with my family. So I was very excited to finally have a night off to see my friends and have fun. So we all met at a friend’s place before going to a club. I had a few alcoholic drinks and got tipsy. I told my friends to get ready to go out because it was almost 11pm. We were all in a good mood and I was excited to spent the night dancing to good music. One of my friends thought I was rushing them and told me very harshly in front of everybody to not hurry up. I was hurt in that moment and didn’t understand why she was so aggressive towards me. Immediately some teardrops started to pour from my eyes. I tried to stay calm and we all got ready to go out. We went outside and left some friends in the apartment because they didn’t want to go out anyway.

In that moment I broke down, fell on my knees and started weeping. I couldn’t control my breathing, it was like I was suffocating. I started to scratch my arms very heavily as it would release some pain. I was not able to move and I was staring on the concrete ground while my boyfriend and a other friend tried to comfort me by hugging me and asking if everything was okay. My friends were confused and overwhelmed in that moment, they didn’t know what was happening and neither was I. I sat there on the pavement in the middle of the night, crying, heavily breathing and mubling to myself the same sentence over and over again: „What did I do wrong?“. I didn’t understand what was happening, I could not think properly. My friends stayed with me there for almost half an hour until I was able to breath normally again. I couldn’t talk or answer properly to any questions my friends had. I was just staring somewhere else and didn’t realize where I was. I decided to go home and my boyfriend escorted. On our way to my house, I was crying and was short of breath. My chest hurt so much, I felt someone was stabing me with a huge knife. When we got home, he told my mum and my sister what happend. They immediately rushed to me, took off my shoes, changed my clothes, wiped off my makeup and brought me to my bed. They made me tea and gave me a hot-water bottle to warm me up because I was freezing from sitting outside. My mum just hugged me and told me to stay calm and that I am safe at home. I felt like a zombie, not able to respond to anything that happend around me. I was just there, doing nothing and seeing everything rushing before my eyes. I couldn’t sleep in that night and my boyfriend stayed by my side until I eventually fell asleep.

This was just one of many incidents I had in the course of the year. Maybe it was the alcohol which led to an „overreaction“ or it was just a moment in time where all my emotions where bundled and I had to let them out. This specific night is significant to me because it was the first time that my friends saw me – vulnerable, with no filter, just me and my issues. It took a few weeks for me to get over this incident. But the next mental breakdowns happened when I had a discussion with my boyfriend about our relationship. He didn’t do anything wrong except being honest with me. But in the moment of truth, I broke down again and I was crying and breathing very heavily. He immediately hugged me from behind and tried to control my breathing. After 10 minutes I was able to breath normally again and had a clear mind.

After every breakdown, I would be home for a few days, not see my friends for weeks and just focus on my daily tasks. I tried to forget that these moments of my mental breakdown had happened. After a few similar incidents I tried to confront myself and started to reflect what happened during these attacks. I noticed it would happen in situations where I felt too much pressure and my anxiety kicked in. It also happened during times where I had too many things and projects going on and didn’t take a break for a few weeks or even months. So during this time period I had these mental breakdowns where I was stressed out and I was under tension the whole time.

I remembered that I had these breakdowns before, when I was 18 years old and just graduated from high school. It was also a dark time for me back then. I tried to think how I was able to get over them but I didn’t. I was distracting myself instead of dealing with these issues. I met so many new people in my jobs and in University, and tried new stuff out and this distraction was going on until this very year of 2018. Four long years I was distracting myself, so I didn’t have to deal with my issues. But in 2019 I made myself a promise to not carry any baggage around me again and try to confront the issues I have within me.

I started to do some research and found a lot of sites and information regarding Mental Health issues. I also felt that „my issues“ aren’t that bad or problematic because there are people out there who have it worse than me. So I stopped looking for an answer for a while. My best friend, who is studying psychology, told me after that specific night of my mental breakdown that I probably had a panic attack because my symptons matched the ones of a panic attack. So I looked it up on the page for Mental Health by the city Government and found out that some of my symptoms are common. I had following symptoms:

– the feeling of a threat or panic
– the feeling of „loosing control“
– increased heart rate
– difficulty in breathing
– excessive sweating
– „Derealization„, the feeling you feel „unreal“ to yourself or the world around you is not real

Additionally, I was crying and I was scratching myself but these are probably just my personal symptoms, so it can vary from person to person. After I read this page, I had a kind of moment of enlightment. I felt relieved when I found out what these breakdowns were called. I wrote everything I found out in a Notebook (which has Hulk as a cover to remind me to be strong LOL) and started to write down a list of things that has helped me to calm down during my panic attacks. And so it happened that I created this list to remember myself, which you are going to read now.

In the past year I got more panic attacks than I had ever before.
I started crying a lot more. I would hurt myself (not too dangerously).
I couldn’t smile properly.
I just was not happy anymore.
I realized how much my mood and my behaviour has changed.
So I started to do these little steps to calm myself down and now I want to share this tips with you.
[I wrote this paragraph back in January 2019, when I created this list]

Step 1: Control your breathing

The most important step of all is your breathing. During a panic attack you are probably breathing very heavily and feeling like you are about to pass out. To calm down it is important to control your breathing. There are a lot of methods how to do that.

For me the easiest way is to breath in with your nose and try to fill your lungs with as much air as you can. Then you breath out through your lips. Try to do this as many times as you need until you feel calm. Other people recommended me the „4-7-8″ technique, where you breath in for 4 seconds, hold your breath for another 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. This technique is also known as the „relaxing breath“ and it aims to reduce anxiety.

It also helped me when another person was holding both of my hands and was breathing with me. In that way I was only focussing on my breathing and nothing else.

Step 2: Drink Water & get some Fresh air

The next step after you have calmed down a little bit is to drink water and to get some fresh air.

My mum used to do that all the time when I was kid and cried a lot.
After I cried, she would get me a glass of water to drink, so my body could recover too. Usually when I cry too much, I feel kind of dehydrated and drinking water is helping me with my thirst. It’s important to drink water and not other kind of drinks because it should calm you down and not oversugar you like with Coca Cola or other sodas.

When you had a panic attack indoors, it’s also helpful to get some fresh air. So open a window, or go outside for a few minutes to breath in the fresh air. If you are in a loud environment, try to go somewhere else where it’s quiet and not too crowded.

When I had my panic attack at my boyfriend’s place, he would bring me water and opened all windows. I went outside in his little garden/courtyard, sat in the door frame, stared on the ground and focused on my breathing. It took me more than a few minutes to relax but the fresh air and the water helped me to get a clear mind.

Step 3: Make yourself comfortable

After controlling my breathing, drinking water and getting some fresh air, I feel a little bit better but usually I still feel shitty inside and I am not able to do anything else on that day. After having this traumatic experience, I just want to lay down somewhere and do nothing. I don’t want to talk to anyone, check my phone or worse, work or study. So another advice I can give you is, to change your environment and get yourself comfortable.

In that night where I had the breakdown in front of my friends, I immediately wanted to go home. I wanted to go somewhere where I felt safe. So when I got home and my family knew what had happened, the first thing they did was to help me change my clothes. Changing your clothes is a very significant step because it can also change your mood. I mean what is more relaxing than taking off your bra after a long and stressful day, right? I got into my PJ’s, and layed down in my bed and snuggled into my pillows. I felt comfy, safe and most important I was calm. Eventhough I wasn’t able to respond to the questions of my mother, I was noticing what was going on.

So go somewhere where you feel safe and get comfy. Take off your shoes, maybe open up the buttons on your shirt or your pants and lay down. Sometimes I would just go and get a shower. I would stand there in the hot stream of water longer than I normally would be and just focus on my breathing.

My boyfriend recommended me to stretch while I am in bed. So I would stretch my arms, my legs and do the position of a dog which I learned from the Yoga class I had in school (The only position I remembered from back then). [In terms of stretching, I recommend you to go to Youtube and check out some professional videos for that. My favourite is the „Unwind with me“ by Blogilates.]

Step 4: Get a hug

Something that always helps me to relax is a hug.
A hug from someone you love and/or who loves you.
A big and tight hug will make you feel loved, appreciated, supported and most importantly calm.

Hugging someone is also a way of comfort. When I see someone being sad or crying, my immediate reaction is to hug this person. It doesn’t matter if we are related, are in love, are friends for years or just met recently. A hug is universal. It helps anyone anytime.

When I was breaking down and my friends hugged me, I felt their warmth and love. I knew they wanted to help me in some way but didn’t know how and taking me in their arms was a way of showing their love and empathy. It helped me to feel safer and it created a mini-version of a safe haven. They were standing in a circle around me like they were protecting me and I appreciated it a lot. I know there are people out there who don’t like physical contact but in desperate situations like a panic attack, it is sometimes necessary to take this big step in order to help yourself.

Step 5: Sleep

If None of the mentioned steps really worked, the best thing to is to go to bed and sleep. Taking a nap relaxed me and after a few hours of sleep I felt a lot better. Most of my panic attacks happened in the evening or in the night, so the only thing I could do was to go to sleep.

Eventhough it takes some time to fall asleep, I guarantee you that you will feel a lot better and more relaxed after sleeping through the night. Sleeping helped me to gain more energy and helped me to take a step back from what had happened and gave me a clear mindset. The next day, I still felt shitty, sad and unenthusiastic but I tried to only focus on one thing at a time and I always reminded myself that:

There is always another day
to worry,
to think,
to cry
or to be happy about

a Video guide About how I deal with my Panic attacks

Mental Health Services

Here I provide you with some links for more information about mental Health issues and where you can get help:

Telefonseelsorge (Notrufnummer 142) (Austria Area)

Die Psychiatrische Soforthilfe (Notrufnummer (01) 31330) (Austria Area)

Psychosoziale Dienste Wien (Vienna)

Website der Stadt Wien zur seelischen Gesundheit (Vienna)

World Health Organization (WHO) (worldwide)

Helplines and other resources for Young People (Mental Health Europe) (Europe)

List of suicide Crisis lines by Wikipedia (worldwide)

Hotlines for Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, India by our better world

Mental Health Website by the US Government (USA)

Please note these are just suggestions, if you know about other intiatives or organizations who can help, please comment them down below.


Ich bin Marilyn und lebe in der wunderschönen Stadt Wien! Auf meinem Blog teile ich mit euch meine Erfahrungen und Geschichten, welche ich es als arbeitende Studentin in den letzten Jahren erleben durfte - sei es im Job, auf der Uni, in einem anderen Land oder einfach im Alltag! Ich freue mich euch auf meiner persönlichen Reise mitzunehmen! 🥰🙌✨

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