Quilting Mends the Soul - Day 4 [Panic Attacks]

Hello, as you see I missed a day! There is a very good reason for it, one I don't like to have happen EVER - PANIC ATTACK!

Ugh - Panic attacks are the worst. I had planned to write on this topic as Day 3 post, however I got busy with life and creating my serenity room (master bedroom redo). Which started with painting, which is still not done, but oh so beautiful, I get calm just walking in among the mess of it at the moment.

What color did I finally choose? A gorgeous deep Peacock Blue. I am going to be so happy to have it all done, I am targeting this week.

Sew - Many have asked me how do I deal with panic attacks and get through them. I am going to be honest the number one thing which has helped me immensely is Xanax .5 mg at night. It's the truth and I am not ashamed to admit I need the medication to do it.

I will tell you what I do do here in a few minutes as well. For those of you have suffered from these horrid episodes my heart goes out to you!

First lets do a bit of education between what is a panic attack and what is an anxiety attack.

THEY ARE NOT THE SAME - in anyway, shape or form.

"You might hear the terms anxiety attack and panic attack used interchangeably as if they mean the same thing. In fact, panic and anxiety have different features, and behavioral health professionals use the terms for specific symptoms and disorders". (M.Tull, PhD)

I am a licensed Forensic Psychologist - no longer practicing. I remember this rotation during my education and thought "meh" - no big deal we can treat this easily. Mind you I had never had either at this time. Boy I was wrong!

"Professionals who treat mental health conditions base a diagnosis on definitions found in the "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition," known as the DSM-5. Though anxiety and panic attacks may feel the same at times, the subtle differences outlined in this handbook help identify each". (M. Tull, PhD).

{This book has since been updated since time of publishing this article - it is now called DSM-V TR).

"The DSM-5 uses the term panic attack to describe the hallmark features associated with the condition known as panic disorder. However, panic attacks may occur in other psychiatric disorders and it is possible to have a panic attack if you have no disorder".

"The term “anxiety attack” is not defined in the DSM-5. Rather, "anxiety" is used to describe a core feature of several illnesses identified under the headings of anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and trauma- and stressor-related disorders. Some of the most common disorders under these three headings". (M. Tull, PhD.)

The DSM-V TR is now updated once again, and still no major changes to the diagnosis of anxiety as it is still believed to be due to underlying issues not defined in one area of practice. Nor has it differentiated from stress related disorders many have today. Sad, but true - anxiety is not medically defined as one ideal and is believed to be self inflicted even today.

What is a panic attack?

"A panic attack is an intense and sudden feeling of fear, terror, nervousness, or apprehension. The symptoms are often so extreme that they cause a severe disruption in your day. Panic attacks usually occur out of the blue without an obvious, immediate trigger. In some cases, they are "expected" because the fear is caused by a known stressor, such as a phobia". (M, Tull, PhD.)

"Panic attack symptoms peak within 10 minutes and then subside. However, some attacks may last longer or may occur in succession, making it difficult to determine when one attack ends and another begins. Following an attack, it is not unusual to feel stressed, worried, out-of-sorts, or "keyed up" for the remainder of the day". (M.Tull, PhD)

NEVER feel you are alone in your manifestation of your triggers - I usually do not have a identifiable trigger - But rather a medication I take can cause them to come on.

Sunday was a normal day for me, until I took my medication and then felt my normal nausea and headache coming on.

Then it went down hill very fast.

I am fortunate in that I have twin Siamese cats who are my gate keepers. Oliver and Henry both are able to recognize my change's and will begin to head butt me, or twist and turn around me to get me to stop what I am doing and realize what is happening.

The symptoms of panic may include:
Heart palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
Excessive sweating
Trembling or shaking
Sensations of shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or smothering
Feeling of choking
Chest pain or discomfort
Nausea or abdominal distress
Feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
Feelings of unreality (derealization) or being detached from oneself (depersonalization)
Fear of losing control or going crazy
Fear of dying
Numbness or tingling sensations (paresthesias)
Chills or hot flashes

This was not the case with the first two I ever experienced, which led to me being in ER for hours and then hospitalized. Which we then figured out my medication had this side effect for me. The medication is Amiodarone - my cardiac electrical conductivity stabilizer medication. [The only thing that keeps me out of V Fib, V Tach and A Fib] all can lead to death or Sudden cardiac death syndrome (Your heart stops beating immediately), without this medication I would be most likely not be writing this tonight.

So I have to weight the good with the bad.

I can tell you, during my career - well my life I bet I said "Oh I had a panic attack" over some trivial thing happening a thousand or more times; having no idea what it really felt like.

To be truthful - I wish I never was able to know what It really feels like. I most likely had an anxiety attack.

"Anxiety generally intensifies over a period of time and is highly correlated to excessive worry about some potential "danger"—whether real or perceived. If the anticipation of something builds up and the high amount of stress reaches a level where it becomes overwhelming, it may feel like an "attack."(M.Tull, PhD)

The symptoms of anxiety may include:

Muscle tension
Disturbed sleep
Difficulty concentrating
Increased startle response
Increased heart rate
Shortness of breath

"While some of these symptoms are similar to those associated with panic attacks, they are generally less intense. Unlike a panic attack, the symptoms of anxiety may be persistent and very long-lasting—days, weeks, or even months". (M.Tull, PhD)

When we compare the symptoms they are similar, however they differ greatly in intensity and time. The feeling of impending doom seems to be my worst. Here is a bit of what I go through if I do not intervene in time.
Shortness of breath - (Which I already have due to Lung disease issues) so I don't always catch it right away.
Heart Palpitations - Again I have these regularly
Hot flashes and cold sweats (yep these too are a norm for me)
Impending doom - This is the one that gets me every time and is the scariest for me (I literally think of every way I could die, and be found later). It is daunting and overwhelming and is not a norm for me. When I get to this stage I am done for for hours. I will take up to 3 or 4 hours to come down with medications on board.
Chest pain increases from norm due to cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart muscle) Absolute feeling of a heart attack.
Mind numbing skull splitting headache (on the down slide).

Those are my symptoms. No not all of the ones that are associated, but enough to make you think you will be dead in the next 10 minutes if you do not get help right away. Thus ER visit. Then you feel like an idiot because you did not realize what was happening... Yep been there done that.

No jokes here, I thought I was dying. Then I felt a bit shamed by the ER staff as it was "just a panic attack". Nice. Please take them and endure them for me.

Treatment is available. Remember that. Also, you are not alone, and you should never be ashamed to not be in control.

Medication is my stabilizer, and I have had to try a couple. Xanax has been the one that works for me without a lot of side effects i.e. hung over, fog brain, or fatigue the next day. Do not be ashamed of needing medication to deal with this! EVER!

Next, therapy. Never did it I am one - quilting is cheaper and more effective!

Then the diversion techniques. THIS is where my quilting comes into play.

Many of you have seen my favorite travel quilt.

The twins love it too! Why is this my favorite travel quilt, well its my diversion therapy quilt! It is Quilt As You Go technique. Heavily quilted, so air flows but has a lot of texture too. The twins think its awesome.

How does this divert me?

The textures are soothing to me, much like a weighted blanket is for those who need them for their disorder.

This one, not heavy not light but just right for me. I can feel the textures and it helps to calm me. Also, You see the very subtle design in the fabrics, I trace those with my eyes or find one specific pattern and look for it.

Next there are over 100 different types of decorative stitches in this quilt. I trace those with my fingers and it calms me. While I am doing this I repeat a mantra in my head - usually a variation of one two buckle my shoe with my own words as I go, this takes me out of my own head.

Why does this work?


If I have gone too far and am waiting for medications to start to calm me, then Diversion is a way for me to being to relax, concentrate on something other than what put me into a state of panic.

Does it always work?


It sometimes makes it worse, however 9 out of 10 times it does.

Quilting has been a GOD send for me. The textures, patterns, threads, and colors can give me a way to divert myself from everyday stress. I never do intricate patterns anymore, and NEVER use a pattern they frustrate me to no end. I tend to go with squares or triangles or a variation there of; they are not boring either. It is in the color and pattern play of the fabrics. I love to coordinate for others the colors too.

What will help you?

You will have to try things out, give yourself time and keep yourself on the right track. Do not give up, do not self hate, and never feel ashamed of this awful disorder.

As I said I have not always experienced these in my life; nor since I have begun have they been the same. They vary, they suck, and they need to go away. Until I have my next heart procedure or go off the medication which has set them into play, I will endure them. I hope they do not continue the remaining days I have left as they are debilitating in so many ways.

Keys to success however are simple:
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR first and foremost
Keep a journal of triggers, times and dates.
Research the topic
Ask questions ( you can email me at bloggerted69@gmail.com) I am still licensed as a psychologist, nurse and social worker to this day even though I am not practicing.
Try medications with different doses ( DO NOT LET THEM GET AWAY with the ADDICTION Schpeel) ! OMG! That is the last thing to worry about for me.
DO not be embarrassed to ask for help! NEVER!

When I have good days I have good ones, but when I have bad ones they are "Dante's Inferno" in real life for me.

I wish I had never seen that painting!

How does quilting play into this disorder for me?

It gives me peace, it calms me, it allows me to express myself, it also allows me to take out frustrations - Jack the ripper and colorful words work wonders.

Find colors and patterns you like - not what you think others will like. As a matter of fact I have one fabric in stock (I hope sells out very soon) that will set me off every time I look at it! Vertigo, headache, and visual disturbances. I have to be very careful and walk away for an hour or so after I cut any of it. It is just a red (cherry) ombre scroll. But is so intense it is a trigger for me. I may give it away if its not gone soon, but I think it will go fast during the sale.

Next, Stressor's and how to reduce them with quilting. Oh I have so many ways to do this!

Until next day coming - keep calm, stay focused, allow yourself to scream into a pillow or break some glass. (Remember to breath and remove pillow from face frequently when doing the pillow trick)!

Mostly know you are not alone.

Quilting mends my soul and it will yours too!

As always have a creative and fun day as much as you can.

Until then.


Reference material obtained from: https://www.verywellmind.com/anxiety-attacks-versus-panic-attacks-2584396 , February 20, 2017. Matthew Tull, PhD. Obtained - 08/13/2018.

Yes, I decided to use much better references, although not perfect! HEY! I have brain fog at the moment! If I publish publish I will have an editor fix it for me! JUS sayin'.


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