It would appear I’ve just been hit with all the anxiety I’ve been repressing for the past two and a half months. Typical really. That it would strike whilst I’m on a train. On a train with nothing to read and no headphones. On a crowded, warm train with nothing to read and no headphones. Fan-fucking-tastic.
Being left alone in my own head for the first time in god only knows how many months is an odd feeling. Having not had a minute to think about life or anything other than theatre it’s a bit alarming suddenly having space in my head. Both the musical and my degree show took over my entire existence this past term. In fact, thinking about it, the musical has pretty much occupied my mind for the past year – it was exactly this time past year that I had the sudden ridiculous thought that I could direct the show. Crazy really.
I’m remembering why I tend to throw myself into things that completely take over and don’t give me a minute of piece in my mind. It’s a scary place to be. Just thinking. And not really thinking about anything specific, but just thinking. I’m realizing that train journeys are horrendously claustrophobic-inducing, especially when you don’t have an endless supply of music to lose yourself in. I’m remembering why I usually sit in the row of 2 as opposed to the 4-person table seat – families coming and sitting around you is intrusive at the best of times, but when you don’t have a book or music to shut out the world? Gah.. I’m appreciating why people may have methods of relaxation or stress-relief. Just pausing to ponder a specific word I’m tapping out inane rhythms on the keyboard and my leg jitters have a mind of their own. I finally understand why people say I never sit still..
I’m currently unsure as to whether or not I’ll actually post this. I have another good two or three hours of traveling ahead of me, and will quite possibly decide against a rambling of nonsense as my first post in several weeks. Alternatively, I will quite possibly post this, and if I do I’ll leave this paragraph in. An example of the indecisive, babbling, mess that is my mind.
The family that rudely intruded on my under-lying panic attack decided to move. The daughter was reading over my shoulder, (always appreciated) and quite possibly determined that I’m a crazy person. Probably a wise decision..
Although, I have now calmed a considerable amount. I could probably write a book on methods to prevent public displays of panic or anxiety.
Step 1: Drink water.
Step 2: Focus and regulate your breathing – blowing in counts of four onto your thumb works, as does shutting your eyes and breathing in and out to counts of four. Something about counting is ridiculously soothing.
Step 3: Sing. I know not everyone is a natural singer, but that shouldn’t matter. Singing is another way to regulate breathing, and focuses your mind on something else, thus causing you to forget your panic. Anything that gets your mind off the cause of panic is a good thing, this post for example has so worked wonders. But singing is actually a good one because it does genuinely calm your breathing. Even something as simple as the alphabet can prevent a fully blown anxiety attack..
Step 4: Go to your safe place. This may sound ridiculous, but everyone has one. For some people it’s a place in their thoughts, for others it’s a physical place. In my case it’s a public toilet. I know, grimy. But there’s something about sitting in a toilet cubicle that calms me the fuck down. And hey, if it works who am I to question it.
Step 5: Get fresh air. This is actually one of the hardest ones for me, as a lot of my anxious feelings creep up whilst I’m on public transport or stuck in a place that I know I can’t easily leave. But often just a few breaths of fresh air can completely calm me down.
Step 6: Talk to someone. Either in person or on the phone. Whether you tell them you’re freaking out or not, just knowing that there’s someone else there can work wonders.
Step 7: Sugar. A small square of chocolate, or something fizzy and sweet can help calm your nerves. Of course you don’t want to rely on this one, especially if you regularly panic, as you may find yourself piling on the pounds or needing to visit a dentist! But a little bit now and then, I find, can massively help to stop the shakes.
Obviously these don’t have to go in this order, and they’re not listed in order of importance either. Just a few steps that can prevent a public display of panic. Or even a private display of panic..
Weird. This is not how I saw this post going. In an effort to prevent a panic attack, I ended up writing about how to prevent one. Crazy. I’ve also just clocked how many words I’ve managed to write (I’m a student, it’s practically an ocd..) and all I can say is I hope my dissertations (yes, plural) are this easy and fast to type.