Having Panic Attacks at Work
Mental Health blogger, All in Your Head, talks about having panic attacks at work and how a supportive workplace makes all the difference.
Most attacks I can deal with these days, the thoughts or the physical symptoms are OK…well not OK but I've learned how to cope over time if you know what I mean.
The problem I get is when I get that huge sensation [of a panic attack] and I don’t feel comfortable enough to tell anyone what is going on. Work is not the kind of place where you want to be crying and clinging onto someone you’re not at all comfortable with!
How do you tell them?? It has happened throughout my working life.
For years, I was just living to get through the day, one day at a time. Not once could I plan ahead... in hope of a good weekend or a date!
What was a date? Half of my twenties can be wiped off the record. It’s something I deeply regret, but it happened.
However, I am in a job now where that comfort has been restored… in a way, it’s a great place.
I knew that from my interview:
I walked in, chatted for about twenty minutes and felt all of the sensations building; I had to try and explain quickly that I suffered severely with anxiety/panic attacks.
As I started to explain my boss cut in, “no way?”
I thought, “here we go, thanks for your time”
My boss: “Do you think you're dying?”
Me: “Excuse me?”
My boss: “When you have them? You feel like you’re going to die don’t you? I had them for several years, house ridden, scared of my own shadow, a horrible feeling”
I felt like crying! I AM NOT ALONE. I felt at ease.
I have been in this Job for nearly five years now, my colleagues are great and so understanding.
Most days are good but when I have a bad attack (the palpitations, the numbness, breathlessness, the thoughts of dying) you will find me in the disabled toilet with my head under the cold tap talking to myself, mainly calling myself an idiot etc.
When I am in the middle of one, they can last up to an hour, I take a tablet that eases the intensity of the attack. It allows me to get back to my job sooner. I only wish I had a turn off switch for my thoughts and anxiety. But unfortunately I do not.
That is why I’m lucky, I work for a great company and I’m surrounded by understanding people who do nothing but try to help. Some sufferers do not have these surroundings and will suffer alone, which is and can be a very dark place.
So, the reasons for this post are to share and help, ask questions and talk.