MY HEART PALPITATIONS PANIC ATTACKS
I have had heart problems from birth, but AFIB was only diagnosed when I
was about 23 years of age. It was a big shock.
I was told that I had a heart arrhythmia called AFIB.
I thought the surgery on my Tetralogy of Fallot heart sorted everything
out, but it was only the start of my heart palpitations panic attacks story.
I got married when I was 24.
I did not know much about AFIB, it felt like the doctors were also still “looking to see what’s my problem”, I was confused, young, scared, afraid of dying and …..
I could feel my heart beating….irregularly and out of rhythm.
I thought ” would I ever see my children” and ” will I be too weak to play with them” so yes, it was a big shock.
I have also experienced and read on forums that doctors sometimes do
not take afib seriously and you are sent home with a “don’t worry, it won’t
kill you”, but the problem is you can FEEL your heart.
HERE COMES THE PANIC ATTACKS!!
I got my first panic attacks about a year after I was diagnosed with Afib.
The thing with the panic attacks was that it -well- just “attacked” me from nowhere and I thought “it must be my heart” I went to many doctors. In one week I visited 3 different doctors, my GP, Homeopath, and my Cardiologist because I thought I was going to die!!
They would tell me I’m alright and then once I was alone I got an attack. Sometimes an AFIB and then a Panic attack, I was so confused I did not know which of the 2 it was.
What are some of the symptoms of a panic attack according to ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America).
Palpitations and a pounding heart.
Sensations of shortness of breath.
Discomfort in the chest area.
LightHeaded or feeling dizzy.
Fear of losing control
Fear of dying
Above mentioned symptoms are also AFIB symptoms or very close to it.
At that stage, I did not really understand this heart palpitations panic attacks thing, and how it was connected to my AFIB and cardioversion of the previous year.
The doctors tried to explain everything to me, but I was struggling to understand if the heart palpitations (AFIB) was responsible for the panic attacks or visa versa, were they the same thing, how were they connected, could I prevent this heart palpitations panic attacks thing?
Luckily I also went to a good and wise psychiatrist, and one of the things I
remember is that he said
” you cannot be in control of everything“.
In some sort of weird way that helped me, because I realized that some things
you must just let go. I’m a newborn Christian and I believe in life after
death, so I decided to let my life go! into God’s hands. This Paradox approach is very powerful because by not fighting the panic you take the fear and strength out of panic.
But this does not mean I was not afraid of dying or that I would not look after my health,
actually the opposite. I realized I will have to die someday, but not be
a walking dead person, crippled by fear and that is why I have to make the most of every
The psychiatrist gave me some meds for about 6 months, but also talked to
me about my thought life, and sent me to other professionals who helped me
with breathing exercises, and we talked about death – can you believe it!!
He explained exactly how panic attacks work and how to prevent that
they do not get worse.
Another step was to really believe the doctors when they said I’m alright,
and DO life.
I was told that I could do sports, but I was too afraid to try it again.
JUMPING INTO THE FEAR
One night I was phoned by a squash mate, and they needed me to play a game
as a substitute for somebody (they said there was no one available).
I refused – I was too scared — fear of dying was my only thought.
Finally, I gave in and played the game. I remember being so scared that I was
going to die any moment on that squash court, I lost the game but it was a
victory for me. I decided there and then that I was going to face my fears
( with my doctor’s blessing of course).
The constant fear and anxiety was actually so bad that I said to myself, before the game started, that I could not go on with my life with this constant fear of dying, because it paralyzed me totally and it was all I could think about, and I said, well if I have to go then that’s that but I cannot live in fear every day.
My tips for handling that panic attack: and beating heart palpitations panic attacks are:
- Keep on breathing!! — Do not stop breathing because you want to count your heart beats. Is it just me or do you also hold in your breath and start “feeling” and counting your heartbeats? Maybe it’s just a panic attack and not an AFIB attack.
- Don’t fight it accept it!! My attitude was OK panic bring it on let’s see what you’ve got.
- Muscle relaxation!! Tense and then relax all the muscle groups, one by one, you can start from your feet up to your head or the other way around. This can take up to 20 minutes or you could just do a quick 5-10 minute exercise.
- Build a victory bank and remember any victories you had over panic. Even the smallest victories can help you build this victory bank.
These above-mentioned tips are only my pre-arrest of my thoughts.
For my full, Thoughtarrest Infographic click HERE.
Please let me know if anything like this ever happened to you in your AFIB journey.