Living Well

Anatomy of a Panic Attack

Posted on: October 15, 2012

I drew this in the early part of this year to help me understand the sequence of events that pre-ceed and then occuring during a panic attack.

the bumps represent incidents – more often simply statements from other people that are upsetting – and the number, frequency, intensity and the rapidity of the sequence all play into whether the anxiety hit is turned into a full fledged panic attack.







7 Responses to "Anatomy of a Panic Attack"

Reblogged this on Nina's Garden.

Oh my…
It can be a good idea indeed to draw these inner events down on paper.. Did it help you?

Well, it was 80% successful.

It helped me a great deal, because when I understood what was happening emotionally

and the cascade of cognitive insensibility that follows

I was able to separate out these steps into even smaller increments and eventually, I was able to control my environement enough

to prevent the escalations into full out panic

and to virtually eliminate panic attacks.

It was complicated by also having anxiety waves and to tease out that interplay.

That said, where they failed was that I drew them in order to have a starting point in a conversation with doctors and therapists, but not one would actually let me take them through it

and instead would focus on my need to draw or other unrelated topics.

so, it worked for me

but they failed to help me to reconnect with the medical system

I drew this back in January, 2012. and it’s only because it’s been about a month since I had an attack that I could even look at the drawing.

it used to trigger anxiety for me to look at.

so while I probably over shared and over answered your question

since I have been using these blogs to document my recovery process

this seemed like a good juncture to share this information

when it occured to me – almost midnight-thirty am Oct 16. 2012

Yes, mid August to mid Sept this year was very difficult for me
given the various anniversaries in this stretch of time. public, private and career wise….

And well, one other way drawing helped

was that I had actually become functionally illiterate

I couldn’t read anything or take in new information without a great deal of distress, physical pain and difficulty.

So much of what I had gone through had been in bureaucratic writing that words had really lost all meaning.

and if photos are worth a thousand words

then drawings are able to compact, comprise, condense, compact, contain

just as many and maybe even more

because of the reveal of the hand movements

the grace or elegant of a line or curve

or the choppy blocky sketchy

thick to thin

dashed dotted drizzled or drooled

lines and marks

blots and saturations

This may work in the short term, but your symptoms just come back stronger.
Even though there is no apparent reason for the attack, the appearance of the symptoms will make
it a fearsome experience. If you are in the state of the attack, your
breathing will be shortened. * Youre not Alone A panic attackcan happen at
any time of the day, in any situation, to anyone, anywhere.
Deep breathing, or breathing into a paper bag
is most helpful if you are hyperventilating.

My particular symptoms did not include hyperventilating

and the bumps each represent an event that is the attack source

I am unsure if you are adding general information that I left out, because it wasn’t relevant to my experience.

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