5 Tips for Panic Attacks when living with Hepatitis C
Somehow, I made it through years of living with hepatitis C. I looked like a tired, achy, stressful, smoker girl. The virus was weakening my liver, but I was undiagnosed. The damage spread to my whole body – and I kept faking it. Some of my favorite props were caffeine, chocolate, and cigarettes. Yep. I borrowed energy from chemicals. Even though my motive was good, it backfired. You’re not surprised – nobody can overcome a sick liver by dumping chemicals in it. I experienced panic attacks that were brought on more frequently by the stress of living with hepatitis C.
Panic attacks and hepatitis C: a hard battle in private
Publicly, I was humming right along with my thinning hair and itching skin. Privately, it was hell. The system I had concocted was a house of cards. Flimsy and threatening to totter – much like me. My heart thumped like an off-beat drummer – fast and irregular. The adrenaline attacks blasted the living crap out of me at the worst possible times.
I needed help in high doses. Slowly, through study, journaling, and >meditation, truth began to circulate through my thoughts. My doctor and I eliminated all possible causes of the high heart rate attacks. Thyroid? Nope. Heart? Nope. Hormones? Nope. Help arrived, and some things worked better than others. Some of these may help you like they did me.
Finding solutions for me
Here are some of my top tips for dealing with panic attacks:
- Change your diet. This may seem too simple. It is. By reducing simple sugars, your body will begin to find a new calm. You won’t get the highs and lows associated with sugar imbalance. So get ready to live through the “slump” periods. Thinking about cutting back on caffeine may raise your eyebrows. Well, you’ve got to give yourself a break. Lots of fresh, clean food. You’ll cook a lot.
- Just that. If your all jumpy and having panic moments – when the phone rings too loud, you jump ten feet and start to cry – You need rest. Lots of it. The quality of your sleep may be poor due to reverse sleep pattern. It’s common with liver disease. Even if you just lay there, at least try and get more rest.
- When that tight feeling comes across your chest, stop. Instead of crossing your arms, stand up and raise them over your head. Wave them around or bend over and touch your toes.
- Slowly to the count of 4. Hold it for 4. Then, let it out even more slowly to the count of 5. Repeat until your heart and mind begins to slow down. If it helps, repeat an affirmation while breathing. I’m letting go. Everything is fine. Nothing needs to be fixed. I’m at peace, or a phrase that you like.
- There is a time to ask your doctor for help. I took a beta blocker for heart regulation. I took hormone replacement. I used an occasional sleep aid. They gave me a sense of control and I was able to progress toward health.
If you are having anxious thoughts or heart thumps, consider these changes. Start with your diet. Get more rest. Moving and stretching while breathing deeply. Your doctor may be able to provide a prescription. You can overcome panic and anxiety with time, patience, and help.
Read more from Karen's series about stress and anxiety by clicking here.
Do you experience long-term side effects from hep C treatment?