Partners who’ve experienced betrayal trauma can sometimes suffer from panic attacks. These are both unpleasant and frightening. So, what can you do to help you cope with these attacks, and to regain some control when you feel out of control?
Here are some steps that might help you with this:
- Remind yourself that these feelings of panic are simply exaggerated stress responses. They are also very normal in your situation.
- Although they feel dramatic and worrying, the sensations aren’t likely to be dangerous. Usually they will pass, and nothing worse is going to happen.
- Interrupt the tendency to add to the panic by starting to worry about the feelings, and how they might affect you – both now and in the future.
- Keep the present as your focus. Don’t let your mind run wild. Assume the persona of a detached observer. Simply notice what is happening inside you right now. Try to be curious instead of anxious.
- Focus on your breathing. Try to slow it down. Take deep, calm, steady breaths from your diaphragm. Notice how this helps – both mentally and physically.
- If you are cold or shivery put a blanket round your shoulders. You want to feel comfortable and comforted.
- Try to ground yourself firmly in your environment. Notice the feel of the carpet on your feet, or slowly run your hand over the fabric on the chair.
- Be patient. Wait it out. Let the feelings run their course. Eventually they’ll fade and you’ll return to feeling normal.
- Take it easy, and relax, when you feel the symptoms end. Give yourself time to recover from what you’ve just gone through.
- When you return to normal, think about how far you’ve come. Think of how well you have coped – despite tremendous challenges. You know you will survive, and you can deal with these attacks.