When I get overwhelmed I tend to freak out in a way that some don’t always quite understand. It can be as simple as something as not being able to get my shoes untied to getting into an argument or getting an IV. There are many situations where I get overwhelmed that leads to a panic attack. The import thing about panic attacks is knowing how to sense them coming and how to deal with them in a safe way.
The feeling I get before I start to panic is simply: overwhelmed. Typically it starts off as perhaps agitation or just being upset, but then sounds and light seem to amplify, every little noise from the fan, to crickets, to the TV, to family talking, every little sound feels more like you’re in the middle of a stadium where people are yelling and shouting and the spot light is on you, you hear all of it at once.
Usually within five minutes of everything amplifying, I end up in a tearful fit in a bathroom somewhere. If I don’t take action when I notice things happening I will often end up digging at my skin, pulling out hairs, or hitting myself. It’s in these moments that I try to get to the quietest place I can and focus. Sometimes I find that running cold water over my hands.
Once I keep start to calm down, I give myself another 5 to 10 minutes, just so I don’t get overwhelmed going back out. Sometimes it helps to focus on breathing as well but typically just getting out of the overwhelming environment can do the trick.