What to Do When You Are Freaking the Fuck Out

Spring is right around the corner! Better weather, new beginnings, and for many of us, it means a lot more social, work, and family responsibilities. If for you that translates into outright panic or good old-fashioned stress, here are three great strategies for when you are freaking the fuck out.

1. Focus on the event after the thing that you are dreading.

When it comes to an impending dreaded meeting, appointment, interview, or colonoscopy performed by your high school crush, humans have a tendency to put that event at the end of time.

It is so easy to lose perspective when dealing with an upcoming anxiety-inducing situation. The dreaded thing becomes all there ever was, is, and will be. When we don’t acknowledge that something will come after an anxiety-inducing situation, we magnify its importance. It becomes the ultimate destination, the final sentence into your own personal hell.

By recognizing that life will continue to go on immediately after the end of the dreaded task, perspective is re-established. You will take bubble baths, cook dinner, watch Black Panther, and go shopping.

Try focusing on the thing you are doing later that day in great detail. You have already come up with all possible scenarios in which that meeting with your boss involves you insinuating that she smells, that she once dated your cousin, and then ending abruptly with you saying “I love you” instead of “Goodbye.” Focusing on what comes next is one of my favorite strategies for getting through tough times.

2. Take your crazy pills.

It’s almost hard for me to remember what my problem was with antidepressants. I know I had it in my head that there “had to be a better way” and I was very much set on that. I have panic disorder. It started when I was in my mid-twenties after a back injury and I was so dead set on defeating it that I threw away six years of my life. I tried everything… and I mean everything. I eliminated dairy products and meat products and alcohol and sugar and caffeine and joined yoga and kickboxing and pilates. I started meditating, running, dry skin brushing, seed cycling, fasting, cryotherapy, talk therapy, water therapy, acupuncture, massage… literally I could go on for pages, all to no avail.

Don’t get me wrong, that stuff is fantastic. My ass was up to my elbows and my skin never looked better but hot, terrible waves of fear would continue to grip me while I was at work, the supermarket, reading a book, or watching TV.

Why didn’t I fix my serotonin problem sooner? I know I totally bought into the five stories in all of history of someone trying Prozac and then eating their offspring, throwing their feces into oncoming traffic and then killing themselves (that’s what happens, right?). I remember thinking that despite knowing antidepressants made a night and day difference for literally millions of people, it wasn’t going to work for me. I remember that doing this on my own was the most important thing… I just don’t remember why.

It wasn’t until someone very close to me who shared all my notions about “health” started taking Zoloft that I changed my mind. I saw the change in her and it gave me the courage to challenge my long-held beliefs about SSRIs.

Now I take a little pill in the morning and I don’t have panic attacks anymore. I eventually figured I didn’t have any offspring to consume so I might as well try it. I don’t experience any side effects and I live the life that I want to live.

Zara Larsson Shrug GIF by Genius - Find & Share on GIPHY

If you have been regularly freaking the fuck out for more than six months, see your GP.

3. Absolve yourself of responsibility

One of the mechanisms of panic is the fight or flight response.

When I first started having panic attacks, it was sitting in restaurants that unnerved me the most. I wasn’t a diner, I was a captive of Joe’s Crab Shack, endlessly tortured by slow waiters holding my check hostage and mocking me with their dinner specials.

Restaurant GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I became obsessed with all the things I could “do” to stop panicking. I could have cold water and peppermint and do math problems backward. I had a million excuses lined up for why I had to dash from the restaurant like a woman on fire. Then I read an article that said when it came to panic attacks, it wasn’t my responsibility to do anything.

Panic wasn’t some fussy baby that needed to be burped, fed, and changed. It was going to happen and pass regardless of what I did. It was none of my business. It wasn’t my responsibility to serve it.

Caring for yourself should make you more resistant to stress and pressure, not less. There is a huge difference between taking care of yourself and letting stress make you it’s full-time maid.
So if your self-care rituals are less about making you stronger and more about pacifying your freak outs, consider dropping that responsibility.

I hope for a magical and warm spring for all of you, filled with creativity and love and manageable stress. Share what you do when you are freaking the fuck out in the comments below. You might just change someone’s life.

74 thoughts on “What to Do When You Are Freaking the Fuck Out

  1. I’m so glad you are better and thanks for sharing! I have crippling anxiety. I had to get special supports when I was getting my degree and have been hospitalized from it. This shit is no joke. I appreciate you sharing your tips!

    Liked by 7 people

  2. I shut my door and the curtains, unplug the phone and give myself some pure me time. Time where I answer to no-one and do whatever I please. It might be watching Netflix for hours or sleeping or pottering about the house. It might, shock horror, even be about going outside sometimes! But it is whatever my mind and body need in that moment. It helps. The other thing I love is a quote … I am unable to remember who by. But it says suffering equals pain vs resistance. And I like it. It reminds me I don’t need to fight this stuff. It doesn’t have to be difficult. It can be as simple as acknowledging what I need and allowing myself to have it. I am also a big fan of therapy … with the right person. When it works it I should life-changing and magical but sadly all too often that isn’t people experiences and they are made to feel as though there must be something wrong with them whereas, more often than not, it’s the therapy not being a good fit or being poorly delivered.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I started having panic attacks in my late 30’s. Don’t know why. They mostly would come while I was driving 60 miles an hour on a highway, which is NOT a good place to have them. I had no idea what was happening to me. I finally went to my GP and we went down the “let’s try this little pill to see what happens” journey …. months and months of hell on Earth. The last official panic attack I had was when I was stuck at the top of a ferris wheel. With my eldest daughter when she was about 8. AFTER I ASKED THE FUCKING CARNY DUDE NOT TO STOP ME AT THE TOP. I’m normal(ish) now.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you for this 🙌! We all tend to freak out every now and then. But for me it’s almost all the time😄 and to calm myself down I always just listen to soothing music while cleaning 🌼

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I changed my middle name to anxiety about 5 years ago but am slowly reverting back to the original. What worked for me for everyday use thanks to a brilliant Naturopathic Dr. has been supplementing with amino acids (5htp and L-tyrosine) which are precursors to serotonin and dopamine. Definitely worth trying before resorting to western medicine, but I agree when all else fails at least try a medicinal prescription. Journaling to record your days, events, thoughts and worries is also a good way to condition yourself mentally because it helps after looking back at where you were, what your concerns were at the time and then seeing how everything played out in real life, which more often than not is perfectly fine. Love your tip on looking past the dreaded things and forward to what you know is awaiting after. I am always excited to get emails that you have posted something new! I usually go straight to it haha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I love this insight. I don’t have anxiety. I typically don’t fear failing, making a fool of myself, or standing out in a crowd. I usually just keep on trucking. If I make a mistake, I ask for forgiveness. I don’t usually freak out – which makes it hard to understand anxiety. I worry sometimes, but I have never felt debilitated by my feelings.

    I think it is easy for someone like me to say – mind over matter, get over it, move on…. but my dad has recently suffered some mental/emotional changes with his illnesses. It has been humbling to see him go through changes & see the frustration he feels because it is beyond his control. This is one of those situations where I can say and do nothing to help, because I don’t know how. I don’t know the first thing about it.

    One of my sons’ friends suffers from anxiety – big time. He will be sobbing about going to school, or before a baseball game, or other social event. I am struck dumb as I have no idea what to do to fix or help…. I just want to hold him in my arms and say it will be okay. And I want to hug his parents and buy them drinks and tell them that I don’t understand what it is like, but I am here to help or whatever I can do.

    I am glad that we live in a time where people are speaking out about things like this. Telling your story, helping folks understand. It helps to take away the stigma. I am sure it helps someone to know that they are not alone.

    Hugs to you & keep on talking about freaking the fuck out – then maybe the rest of us will learn a little more about how to be a part of the solution.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was just like you. Before my back injury, I wasnt even familiar with basic nervousness. I’ve been teaching group classes of dozens and sometimes upwards of 75 people since I was 15. Public speaking has been second nature to me. The panic attacks completely took me by surprise and caused a bit of an identity crises. You are so kind and loving, and even though you thankfully havent expereinced it, you acknowledge that others have, and that is great.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I didn’t have anxiety til a couple years ago and it shocked the shit out of me. I’ve been pretty comfortable working in a high ‘stress’ environment. but when your ‘fight or flight’ kicks in when queuing for coffee or when someone walks towards you, you know somethings up.

    Doctor prescribed Sertalline to me and I read the leaflet when I got home and was shit-scared to take it. So I messaged my bestie.

    Me: ‘not sure I should take this, the contra-indications are terrifying’
    Bestie: ‘what and how much?’
    Me: ‘sertralline, 50mg’
    Bestie: ‘Oh that’s nothing, I take 350mg and it’s fine’

    It’s very isolating isn’t it, having the ‘freaking the fuck out’ gene. But when I discovered that not only one-in-four people take crazy pills, but including my bestie, I felt less alone.

    I meditate every day (no gluten-free beanbag or incense burning!). It strengthens your ability to recognize when you are about to freak the fuck out, and enables you to switch it off or at least stop you from stabbing someone in the eye for walking too close to you on the sidewalk.

    Taking sertalline hasn’t changed me, except that I might not cry or scream in situations where I might. And I rarely go down that spiral where you end up in bed for two days with the phone un-plugged.

    One in four, lady. You’re not alone. Love ya x

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Thanks to Beckies Mental Mess, I found you!!!! Oh my word, thank God I did because you get it, you have a great sense of humor, and you GET it. Suffering from panic attacks for almost thirty years, and I can’t believe how far I’ve come with driving, and other social situations. Letting myself off of the hook is key. I have CPTSD, and I panic when it comes to seemingly small things-calling an eye doctor, keeping a luncheon date, going to work…all of these became virtually impossible for me and I knew I was truly missing out on life. I prayed for healing, and I found Zoloft. Changed my life completely! I have to keep my planner pretty clear. When I make a date with a gal pal, I make damn sure I go-rather than get sick over it, literally-sick in bed sick with the latest cold, flu-you name it. I try to push myself to attend at least ONE social function a week. Church counts, and I love my church family. They know what I go through and who I am, and they are comfort beyond imagination. I have a wonderful tribe full of women and men who love me for me. After 26 years of marriage, and pure hell on earth at times-my husband has become my best friend. I don’t speak to any of the narcissists (my sister is a malignant narc, my step son as well-as was my ex-best friend) that abused me. No contact works. My best advice is to lean on Jesus, take one day at a time, and whatever it takes-get to a place of freedom from judgement.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you so much for sharing! I suffer from anxiety and always have! I have not been great at controlling it and it causes me so many additional health issues. I am so glad you are doing better and I think I might have to try some of your mechanisms. Hell trying something different is better than just doing nothing and continuing to suffer!!! Thank you SO much!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Literally standing at work trying to calm down from a panic attack that just came over me. I struggle from general health anxiety. Thank you so much for putting this message out there. You should write a book or something. Seriously though. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so very much. I am happy to have read about your experience with anti depressants. I too have told myself they aren’t for me. Although i feel I’ve found better ways to cope with my anxiety, that might be a path I might I have to go down ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  11. OMG Zoloft has been a lifesaver for me. I’ve been on and off medications for my depression and anxiety for almost 30 years now and Zoloft has been one of the few things I’ve tried that’s worked for me. The thing that I now know works best for me (Viibryd) insurance won’t pay for because it’s expensive and I can’t afford it out of pocket. But Zoloft helps better than a few other things I’ve tried. I mean, I don’t feel the crazy giggly relief I felt when I was on Viibryd for a brief period of time, but nor do I feel the crushing weight of my depression and anxiety like when I was off my meds. It makes the anxiety and depression tolerable.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Well said! I don’t know what the problem is with taking anti-depressants. Except that I initially refused to take them – and I am a Biochemist who has co-authored papers about the function of the brain! That is the extent to which we all seem to think “I can overcome this on my own. It’s just mind over matter!”

    None of us would refuse medication for other medical conditions, so why are we so sniffy about correcting a chemical imbalance in the brain?

    Just one small thing. Anti-depressants do have one big side effect. They make you feel better!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Thank you for sharing, I feel this post is just what I need after the week I’ve had, I don’t suffer with panic attacks however, I just cry and have a massive cry (breakdown) where I get myself worked up and stressed for about 2 days.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Brilliant advice as usual. The whole ‘fight or flight’ thing is so key. We’ve evolved that response for very good reasons, but now we don’t have to fight or run from sabre-toothed tigers, we don’t then have the ‘release’ that’s needed. Our bodies and brains haven’t caught up with modern life and don’t know that the meeting with Linda from Payroll isn’t really on the same level as the sabre-toothed tiger fight. (We could argue that one I’m sure 😉 ). I read a brilliant article recently that, although it focused on anxiety in children, helped me understand its mechanics. I expect most here already understand anxiety in depth, but I live under a rock! Your No. 1 tip really does remind us ‘This too shall pass’.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I have often found myself teetering on the verge of starting antidepressants/anti-anxiety meds. I know that there are times when I definitely NEED them. Panic attacks are the worst.

    But every time so far I’ve managed to push through without them. It’s passed, and I’ve gone back to thinking “oh it’s fine, everything is fine, I’m fine…” and forget all about it until the next time I lose my shit.

    So healthy!

    I think I’ll just have to bite the bullet and go get my pills at some point.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ya know, I did that for years myself. It wore me out. I think we have proven that we are strong, but imagine how effective we could be without fighting that battle 😉

      Like

  16. I have a panic disorder too and I’ve been trying to manage it without meds for about a year now. This was exactly what I needed to read before my appointment on Monday to go back on them. Thank you for sharing those parts of yourself, and for helping to break mental health stigma. I’m hoping to do the same 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Dude. Thank you for writing this. Lately, I have been thinking that I need some help to combat the shit going on in my head because I just can’t seem to make sense of it all and it has been all-consuming. Life is too damn short to be freaking the fuck out all of the time. Love you, girl!

    Liked by 4 people

  18. My husband suffers from panic attacks and I know at times I can be less than supportive because it screwed up our plans etc, but I know he is not doing it on purpose and it helps him to just talk to me and breathe deeply and slowly until it passes. Everyone is different.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Right now, it’s elevators, after a scary experience I had a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t had panic attacks in ages, but I’ve had a couple now in an elevator. Thankfully, they’re very situational, so I’m hoping it’s just time:-)

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thank you Gorgeous Lady, for your effervescent wisdom, your bravery and vulnerability. What first drew me to you were the ways in which you make it ok to just be human, fucked up and glorious and all of it. We all need that permission so much of the time; we all need you my sweet! As far as this old lady’s depression, anxiety, panic etc., I take a little pill in the morning and sometimes another one at night and if I have to, I get under the covers for a while and let it all pass.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I had the same ideas about taking antidepressants for the longest time. I just had to do it myself, even if it would mean losing my job and getting bed sores. Thank goodness I finally said enough. For me, it was a phase in my life that was causing the downward spiral and crippling depression, but I was able to get off of the meds eventually and have been fine since. Sometimes the temporary support is just what the doctor ordered and I’m so thankful for it.

    When I’m freaking out, I stop whatever the hell I’m going, take a hot shower with music, oil myself up. Writing is also when of my favorite forms of stress relief and studies about journaling back up the benefits pretty well.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Grab head and growl, write some relentless dark thing, make certain to get under some trees ASAP and breeeeeathe. That usually works okay.

    As for what can be envisioned after the endpoint of my single biggest stressor…. hmmmmm… I guess a super vacant, ghostownesque White House. Aaaahhh, so peaceful

    Liked by 3 people

  23. I like the idea of focusing on what happens next. Putting it into perspective. I honestly have never thought about how “The dreaded thing becomes all there ever was, is, and will be. When we don’t acknowledge that something will come after an anxiety-inducing situation, we magnify its importance. It becomes the ultimate destination, the final sentence into your own personal hell.” That is so true!!!!
    After reading this I can see a pattern of how I have made things worse for myself by doing just that.
    So ty for the fresh thought. Work on perspective!!!!
    What I currently do, is distraction… I have learned to say the alphabet backwards to try to focus on something else and control my breathing. Listening to music helps, and cleaning or repetitive tasks has also helped.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Ummm. I feel like this post was like dedicated to ME is that selfish? Fuck it. It’s my post. None of your other billion fans can have it. Don’t make take off my hoop earrings. I WILL fight for it LOL 😂 SERIOUSLY though? How long do I need to be in denial for before I finally GET IT? I need CRAZY PILLS. But then I stop with a fear that they’ll steal the artist out of me…. that they will numb my crazy to a point of zero creativity. Is it so awful to think my panic attacks and my moments of rage rocking back and forth in the corner of my closet actually INSPIRE the artist in me? Is it crazy to not COMPLETELY want to lose that “edge”. I don’t know. I know I’m a mess. (Jesus just rolled his eyes to the back of his head) But my messes are what make me ME and I’m not sure I’m ready for all that to be silenced or numbed. Does that make sense? Ok ely… it’s gonna be ok…… hush now child…walk away… it’ll be alrighhhht

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I do the stupidest thing. I either divide it up or make a to-do item out of it so it does not get to control my life. You’re definitely right. After that job inerview, life will go on.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. That little bitch anxiety about traveling caught up with me today…. I don’t know why, but I thought of this post, and came back to reread it….I am calmer now. So reading it helped, ok maybe the beer I am grabbing helps too, but still good to know I’m not alone. I really can’t control the weather so Im just going to have to allow a bit more time

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Back in University, I go to this spot, this tree-lined place at the back of some remote buildings in that huge campus where I shout at the top of my lungs and then I’m all better. Luckily it was far enough from people and buildings for some people to bother, or at least I had time to run and escape incase of a mob.

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Recently I have been suffering from anxiety attacks and I really struggle with it being only 13 years old do you have any extra advice you could give me I would really appreciate it

    Like

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