Are you having panic attacks in sobriety and you don’t know what the heck is going on?
I’m going to talk about panic attacks and how to reduce them or get rid of them completely in sobriety.
But first a little bit about me, I’ve been sober for about 13 years, I had a couple two day relapses in the beginning of my sobriety, but I don’t really count those because I learned a lot from those relapses.
But here’s the thing, I pretty much drank most of my life trying to avoid certain situations or trying to avoid feeling a certain way, and I had a lot of energy. Some of it was nervous energy, I was shy in crowds, I was introverted, and I guess I got overwhelmed.
So I grew up rocking back and forth. I have Asperger’s, and stimming means that you self stimulate yourself so you can feel good about yourself in your situation or your environment or who you are.
I had a very addictive personality. I was always running from reality, trying to do drugs, trying to do alcohol, trying to do all the different vices out there, because I don’t want to feel certain feelings inside of me.
So, everything was great when I first got sober. I was very excited I was sober.
They call that the pink cloud in AA and that basically means that you’re just really happy to be sober; you’re happy that you’re healthier and that you’re not hung over and you’re not creating all this drama with alcohol anymore.
You feel free, and your energy levels are better. Everything in your life starts to get better.
But what happens is that, I believe, you’ve been stuffing down your emotions and your feelings for so many years with alcohol.
And if you had anxiety before and then you tried suppressing it with alcohol, guess what is going to happen? It’s all going to come back in the form of an intense panic attack.
Even in sobriety, because all you’re doing in sobriety is you’re getting rid of the alcohol, which is basically a band aid, you have to realize that you started drinking because you felt something.
You felt inadequate, you felt inferior, you felt nervous, you were abused, you had trauma, people picked on you, whatever the reason may be, you started drinking because it made me feel a certain way.
I felt alive, I felt free. I felt excited, I had a ton of energy when I started drinking.
I thought it was the miracle cure all, and so I abused it and it almost killed me later in life, and it took everything away from me. But in the beginning, it felt like magic.
So when I got sober, I took away the band aid, so to speak. So what came up after the alcohol left was about two years into sobriety, I had a panic attack.
I was sitting at the dinner table with my dad, my mom was in the kitchen cooking dinner, and I was talking about my week. I went over to my parents house once a week. Sunday, and I’d have dinner with them and just catch up.
This day in particular, about two years into sobriety, I was talking to my dad about my business online, and all of a sudden I was hyper aware of my surroundings and I felt like I was under a spotlight.
It almost felt like stage fright. It felt like they were 1000s of people looking at me, and listening to me, and I got really self conscious.
My mom stopped cooking and looked at me, my dad looked at me and all of a sudden I had beads of sweat running down my face, I had chest pain, and I was very nervous because I had a heart attack for real, four years earlier than that.
It was a mild heart attack and I had a stent placed in my heart, and everything was fine but I thought it was another heart attack so I turned white, and my eyes were bugging out and my dad just stopped and he was like are you okay?
And I was like no, I have to go lay down. He basically was very concerned about me and he ran to the bathroom and got me a little bit of valium. So I took that, and within an hour I was fine.
My appetite came back and I was like, Let’s eat dinner, but I don’t want to eat dinner at the dinner table. Let’s eat in here on TV trays.
Because I had a panic attack, that instantly made me scared of the dinner table. Okay, because people do not want to go back where they had a panic attack, they’ll have a flashback, they’ll feel the sensations of having a panic attack all over again.
Unfortunately, that made me scared of my parents also. So not only was I scared of having dinner at dinner tables I was scared of my parents, because when I went back the next following week, I got really nervous again because I instantly had panic disorder now and panic disorder is the fear of having another panic attack.
So now I’m nervous around my parents and I’m like this is just great. You know I was just starting to have a really good relationship with them in sobriety and now I’m scared of them.
Just the ridiculousness of that even made it worse because I was like this is so silly. I can’t be afraid of my parents, I love them so much and now I don’t want to go over there to my parents house.
So that created a whole new set of problems but this video/article is basically why we have panic attacks in sobriety, it’s because we probably suppressed a lot of emotions and feelings with the alcohol.
So these emotions are going to come back in full force when you get sober, especially when you start doing some work on yourself in sobriety.
I was doing a lot of spiritual healing, and some energy work with my fiance and we were meditating and I was actually taking some Tibetan herbs, and then I went over to my parents and I would drink a huge cup of iced tea, which has a ton of caffeine in it.
So I’m jacked up on these Tibetan herbs and now like four Lipton iced tea bags, in one cup of tea. You know, no wonder I had a panic attack, plus the whole self conscious thing.
Then I had a huge issue with my dad growing up, so my psychiatrist told me that I had the panic attack because I felt enough trust now with my dad for those emotions and feelings to surface.
So I think with the caffeine and just feeling hyper aware and the room was so quiet and doing spiritual work with my fiance all of that culminated into me having a panic attack and then creating panic disorder after that.
I still get nervous when my parents come to visit. In fact, two years ago, I met them in California at a hotel, and I cried because I was like, Guys, I’m really nervous to meet you. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about, you know my day with you today.
And my dad and my mom were like, oh, you know, my dad was like, you gotta get help son. You know you can’t live this way, and it made me feel really bad because I just wanted to have a great time with them and I only see them like once every two years now.
The last thing I want to do is be scared of my own parents. But if you’re having panic attacks in sobriety, it’s probably because you suppress your feelings and emotions for so long and now those feelings are coming up for you to work on them.
Don’t be threatened by them, and if you’re feeling a panic attack just concentrate on your breathing. Breathe in four, and then breathe out four. So, you get your mind on your breathing technique rather than your thoughts because our thoughts are basically creating the panic.
Concentrate on breathing techniques, or, work out before you do something that causes nervousness or anxiety.
You know, when I first met my fiance’s parents I jogged literally four miles before meeting them to get rid of all this excess adrenaline.
I’ll also leave a link to my CBD oil under this video/article. CBD oil has really helped smooth out the edges in my life.
I take it an hour and a half before I meet somebody new, and it really helps me keep calm and really keeps me from creating more anxiety than needed. So check that out.
And just start working on your past and do inner child work. Start working on any traumas that you can think of, you can do hypnotherapy. There’s tons of hypnotherapy videos on YouTube.
Start looking into smoothing out those edges and change your thinking. You can look into CBT therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy does wonders because it helps you reframe your thinking. Because basically panic disorders all come from your thoughts.
So if you can change your thoughts, then you can change your life. And don’t be too alarmed if you’re having panic attacks in sobriety. It’s just your body and your mind trying to come to terms with these really old traumas that you’ve suppressed with alcohol. So hang in there, hit that subscribe button, and we’ll talk to you soon.
Erik C Johnson