What Sets Off the Attacks? Still, Not Really Sure

Charlie Brown

I wasn’t sure if I should bring this topic up because I’m still trying to figure out what the answer to the question is.  For some people, there is no trigger for anxiety attacks.  Others can pinpoint the cause.  I seem to bounce between the groups in my own mind, which makes this more of a challenge.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and figure something out by the end of this post.

Two weeks ago was a really bad one.  I woke up on the verge of an attack every day, except Thursday.  I still succumbed to one by the afternoon, which might be the reason my editing was so slow.  This was a strange incident because I hadn’t really woken up in such a state before.  It was typically a midday/night issue, so I began wondering what was going on.  My dreams weren’t any more memorable or panicky than usual, but there was a lot of life stress.  Now, I had a feeling that it was related to stress to begin with, but this really locked that idea down.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder if anxiety is typically caused by some type of stress.  It’s almost like a sign that the psyche has crossed a breaking point and continues to erode.  At least for me, I’ve reached a point where it doesn’t take much to push me over that cliff.  By this point, I can’t figure out if there’s any specific scenario or simply general stress.  I’ve had anxiety attacks in the face of traffic, after fights, writing tense action scenes, and letting my mind wander.  That last one has to be the worst of the lot since I can’t always pinpoint when and where that one comes from.  Still, they all have the stress thing in common, so that’s probably it.

Again, I can only speak for myself here, which is why this topic gets a little shaky.  I’m actually stressing about the possibility that I might be making it sound like this is how anxiety works in general.  A lot of people talk as if the triggers are the same across the board, which can be frustrating.  You find yourself being talked to in a way that doesn’t match your situation.  For example, it does seem like it’s general stress that sends me over the edge while a friend of mine with anxiety only gets it with certain situations.  Long ago, I had a similar issue that was only triggered by work too.  Huh, kind of forgot about that until now.

So, I do have a general idea of what sets me off.  The hard part is that there’s no way to go through life without stress.  Not when you’re an indie author and trying to get other parts of your existence together.  Why can’t things be easy?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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38 Responses to What Sets Off the Attacks? Still, Not Really Sure

  1. Lucy Brazier says:

    Anxiety is such an odd beast. It was definitely triggered by stress for me. I since changed my lifestyle (thankfully I was able to do this, although many sacrifices were made) and my anxiety rarely gets out of its box, now. I get little hits of it when a book release is coming up or something major. I get a bit of social anxiety – the idea of being with lots of people or being out in public sends me into a blind panic sometimes… but not other times. I guess there really is no second-guessing anxiety.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get a little social anxiety, but it seems I can make it through those situations. It’s the later attack that gets me. Almost like I’m building up stress throughout the week until it becomes too much. My tolerance has really gone down too. I’ve considered a lifestyle change, but I’m not sure where to start. Mostly because there’s no way to go through life without stress and I’m triggered far too easily.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lucy Brazier says:

        There’s no easy answer. I wish you all the best with it. I still have the odd occasion where it will absolutely paralyse me, but those bouts used to last days (once it was three weeks) so at least now I can function. Take care x

        Like

      • Thanks. Good to hear things got better for you. I’ve wondered about the paralyzing attacks because I don’t think mine have ever gone that far. I can still move and semi-function when I have them, but it feels like my chest is getting gradually crushed. The attacks never seem to reach my legs, which sounds odd to me now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lucy Brazier says:

        There’s literally nothing and everything odd about anxiety. We must all do our best with it, I think. Keep fighting 🙂

        Like

      • You too. That first line really does sum things up.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    Whatever the cause or trigger, these things are awful to live through.

    Like

  3. You have been under a lot of stress, so that would fit.

    It’s stress for me too. Although, extremes of emotion of any sort can trigger my asthma, and the two issues have been known to over-lap, with my anxiety triggering an asthma attack, or an asthma attack triggering an anxiety attack. I’d still call it stress that triggers the anxiety attacks for me though.

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    • Didn’t know asthma and anxiety can overlap, but that makes sense. I was reading that part of the attacks are an activation of fight/flight reflexes, so the body messes with all functions that aren’t necessary for that. One of these is immune system, which is supposed to explain why I get coughing fits when like this. I’m still not sure how true this is though. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

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      • I think how it works is either that I panic when I’m not breathing right from an asthma attack, which sets off an anxiety attack, or the struggling to breathe from the anxiety attack triggers an asthma attack because the panic is preventing my lungs from doing what they should. I haven’t looked in to the science behind it, but I think it’s something like that. Something like how they can over-lap because they can both trigger issues with the organs rquired for breathing.

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      • Makes sense to me. I think I look at the science in the hopes of using it to reverse the attacks. Usually, I just get confused and have to do breathing exercises.

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  4. C.E.Robinson says:

    Charles, you have great insight into your anxiety in general. An over reactive response system to begin with can spark an anxiety attack. The magnitude depends on the stress level. I’ve helped friends with anxiety by talking through it with them. I assumed the left brain (reality) role while they were stuck in right brain emotions. It helped to get them through the attack. It’s hard to deal with anxiety by yourself. One of my friends going into (known) anxiety producing situations used to ask, “Can I call you if I need too?”’ Over time I got less and less calls. I think writing about it helps you. 📚 Christine

    Like

    • I’ve tried talking and it works with some friends. Others end up turning the conversation to rapid fire suggestions that stress me out more. It’s not an easy situation for people to understand or accept when they’re not suffering.

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  5. It’s funny that I read this after calling in sick to work after my own panic attack this morning. I just couldn’t face it for some reason. I know some triggers for me, but I completely understand what you mean. Even knowing triggers or causes (such as stress) how can you AVOID them?? It’s not like I can say “work causes me stress, which causes panic attacks… so I’LL JUST QUIT MY JOB!!” As much as I would LOVE that being the case… the world doesn’t work like that.
    I guess we just have to take a deep breath, keep breathing, and get back to it..
    Or get some better medications.

    Like

  6. Would be wonderful if things were easy. I get various degrees of anxiety over deadlines. Usually hits about 3:00 in the morning when all you can do is rotate as if you are on a spit. I’m hoping if you find the trigger you can take charge of the attacks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So far, it looks like the trigger is just general stress. That’s not something I can easily take charge of. The early morning wake ups here aren’t too bad. I like the quiet, but that’s just me.

      Like

  7. Chuck says:

    Hi Charles,
    I think we all agree anxiety and anxiety attacks are related to stress. However, why the stress and is there something we can do to handle the stress before we are hit with the anxiety? One of the psychologists I went to had we use a journal. I was to write at least once a day and not worry about grammar, etc. Just get down what was I feeling and what had happened that day. Periodically, we would discuss the entries to find consistency. You said you were looking to find a counselor that would work with you and your insurance. Start a journal now and when or if you find your counselor, you will have some notes to share with her/him. Many of us have been in your shoes, but not all the advice (including mine) will work for you. I am a believer in exercise, even if it is only a few minutes a day. If you aren’t able to do strenuous exercise, then take brisk walks. Whatever, the cause and effect, please don’t suffer alone, get some help.

    Like

    • I see a therapist every other week and we talk about this stuff. That’s been going on for years. I’m actually trying the public journal idea because I know other people are either going through this now or have gone through it. I’ve run into a surprising number of authors who seem to have an anxiety problem. So, I figure discussing this in an open forum could help me and other people I know. At the very least, it helps to know that it isn’t an isolated incident for one person.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Chuck says:

        That is great to hear, I applaud your willingness to share this sensitive issue with your followers. I apologize for reading more into your post than what was there. Now that I know the purpose of the post, I will contribute some my experiences to help others when I can. Thanks again for a well-meaning post.

        Like

      • Thanks. Some of the posts might end up being more specific to me than general. I’m still trying to figure this out as far as what I should share. My instincts are always to crack jokes too, but this doesn’t feel like the best subject to do that on.

        Like

  8. Being a writer is a worrying occupation. We all have overactive imaginations, and if our minds aren’t kept busy writing good stories, they torment us with scary ones about all the stuff that could go wrong in our lives. Traffic is a trigger for me too, and I often wake up with The Fear for no reason. I find meditation helps a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Never considered the overactive imagination turning on me like that. I’ve been getting a little better with traffic, but that seems to depend a lot on how other people are driving. It’s like school zones, turn signals, and red lights are merely suggestions some days.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know what you mean! Here in Wales all the signs are in Welsh first, then English. I don’t speak Welsh, and by the time I’ve found the English bit telling me which lane to get into, I’m already in the wrong lane going the wrong way – then I get horns screeching at me as I try to get back on track. That’s when the panic hits!

        Like

      • Geez. That sounds really dangerous. They could at least put them side-by-side or make the English one clearer.

        Like

  9. L. Marie says:

    I’m sorry you had such a bad week, Charles. Looks like we can all relate to this. It sounds like stress is indeed the trigger. That’s certainly the case much of the time for me. Like when someone says, “The check is in the mail,” and five days pass without a sign of the check (while bills are due).

    Really hoping for a good year for you.

    Like

    • The year isn’t going as well as I’d hoped. Part of the stress is coming from it becoming an even bigger challenge to sell books. It’s setting off other problems with people around here, so I’m having a snowball effect.

      Never liked the ‘check is in the mail’ phrase. Always sounded like a lie.

      Like

  10. I have nothing to offer, but I’m on your side. I try to schedule gaps in the writing part of my life. I can’t do it all, at all times. There just isn’t enough Craig to go around. I stopped my current project to deal with interviews and that helped. I have a looming release to get through, and that will be enough for a couple of weeks. I’ll get back to my story, but I’ll have two releases this year. Maybe that’s plenty for 2018.

    Like

    • Thanks. I usually try to take breaks, but I’ve been working hard since January to make sure I’m not in a tight spot over the summer. It might have caused the problem to get worse. Two releases sounds good for 2018.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. You may be on to something. I know when things are stressful at work, that’s when I wake up from a nightmare about work. Anxiety might not be too different except that your mind is waking rather than in a dream state.

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