Panic And The Quicksand Effect

treatment for panic attacks in BrightonWe will all face times in our lives when our world is turned up side down and the everyday routine we previously took for granted suddenly disappears. We might be left feeling powerless, confused and anxious. When we are distressed, it can feel very difficult to get the help we need; other people just don’t seem to get it. We try harder and harder to regain control of our lives but matters only seem to get worse. What can we do?
When we are feeling anxious – perhaps having panic attacks, difficulty leaving our home or irrational fears – we might grab at strategies (or people) to help us feel better. When we do this, the strategies don’t seem to work very well. If advised to breathe deeply, we might find ourselves rapidly heaving at great gulps of air when what is needed is the calming effect of slow, steady breaths – both in and out. Or maybe we are offered water and we snatch at large mouthfuls that stick in our throat when small sips would be both soothing and hydrating. Sometimes, it is not the strategies that are wrong but how we put them into practice. The same might go for those around us too – we might cling to help and risk overwhelming the very people who are trying to support us (e.g. drowning the lifeguard…).
An analogy that can sometimes help when feeling anxious and panicky is to think of ourselves stuck in metaphorical quicksand. The more we urgently thrash about to try and free ourselves, the deeper we sink into the mire. Often, slowing down – though counter-intuitive, particularly if you are someone who typically reacts by ‘doing’ in emergency situations – is what is needed. We can give ourselves permission to stop trying to control everything around us and just concentrate on keeping ourselves well and safe, at least until the crisis passes.
Talking about how we feel with someone we trust can reduce our anxiety, get the immediate situation into proportion and help us obtain some clarity about how to proceed. As a professional, I will listen carefully and compassionately as well as offering you my subjectivity about the life stories you share with me. Together, we can try to unravel the tangle of thoughts and emotions clogging up your mind and replace the confusion with your choice of considered responses to the world.
If you live or work within reach of Brighton and Hove and my approach to counselling and psychotherapy interests you, please contact me via email or telephone 07585 910742 for more information and to arrange an initial consultation.
Copyright Caroline Clarke, Counselling in Brighton and Hove
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