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Panic attacks, they are back

attacchi di panico

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More than thirty years have passed since that morning when, sitting quietly on the train to go to the office, my heart started beating at the speed of light, my hands sweating and my head spinning wildly.

Heart attack? Stroke? Brain tumor?

Panic attack.

You never forget your first panic attack!

In the early 90s there was little talk of mental health and the impact that anxiety, stress, depression could have on our psychophysical well-being.

I was lucky and found a doctor with progressive views who did not hesitate to diagnose this unknown malaise caused, in my case, by a forthcoming change: my transfer, for love, to Australia!

Until then, I had been overtaken by the romanticism of the situation and I felt excited and ready for my new adventure. I had not noticed any alarm bells or potential worries that could be an obstacle to my new life at the antipodes.

In a world without the internet, living in the present was easy and I was preparing to leave armed only with dreams and fictional expectations. I imagined the thrilling journey, the arrival in an unknown and welcoming land and a life full of novelties and change.

Apparently a part of me was questioning the choice I made, once again, with impulsiveness and carelessness, following only my instinct. Such a drastic change had its consequences and my mind found a way to remind me of it.

There followed a period in which I alternated moments of well-being with others in which it seemed that the world was collapsing around me, and on me.

Years have passed and I have acquired the tools to better manage the anxiety. I know it’s still there, but it d I have accepted that is part of my life but does not necessarily have to be a burden.

Nevertheless, I thought I had it under control.

Then a few months ago I began to notice some signs that I had not seen in a long time: feeling of suffocation, catastrophic thoughts, sudden dizziness.

Was it them again? 

Finally one night I was woken up abruptly by a weight on my chest, sweaty hands and the feeling that something was terribly wrong. I opened my eyes and the last few months ran through in my mind, with all the fears, uncertainties, anxieties that have brought with them.

Panic attacks find the ideal environment in the night to grow and multiply. There are no distractions in silence and darkness and the thoughts they feed on find no obstacles.

After the first moments of terror, during which I thought that maybe this time it was really a heart attack, I was able to regain control and get back into my body. The pain in my chest continued for a while, but breathing slowly and deeply I calmed my mind and slowly the pain drifted away.

It wasn’t easy and I felt like I failed. I would have thought that after years of working on myself I was almost immune to such intense panic attacks. Actually, recognising and accepting that this is not the case has paradoxically reassured me.

The events of the last years have shaken me and I am aware of the great changes I face, along with the rest of the world.

This attack reminded me that I have the tools I need to cope with my anxiety and that it is important to remember and accepting my fragility and vulnerability .

But that doesn’t mean it’s easy or pleasant 🙂






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