Six lessons I learned from my panic attacks in a crowded city

After visiting small cities and villages, I found myself in the second biggest city of the country. A fact that unfortunate escaped my notice when I booked a bed for two nights.

Big cities and I aren’t a good match, that I knew. And it didn’t take long before I got reminded of that fact once again.

Finding your limit

After a challenging bus ride (the bus was jam-packed with people and it became really hot) arriving in the center was a lot to take in.

So many people, noise and hustle and bustle. On the sidewalk you had to follow along in a sea of people. The adjacent street was filled with honking buses, cars and tucucs. Clean air began to feel like a distant memory.

Unsurprisingly, my senses became overloaded quickly. My sense of tolerance dwindled, thinking became more difficult and I just wanted some peace and quiet.

The result? Whenever I had to cross the city center, I had to struggle with anxiety, panic attacks and experiencing sensory overload.

Silver lining

Luckily you can learn something from any situation, no matter how crappy. Which can help you along in the future. And during that 1,5 day, I learned quite a bit.

Six lessons

  1. Choosing a hostel outside of the city center was the best decision. As that meant peaceful evenings and nights.
  1. Feeling anxious or feeling stuck in a situation (like a bus) will bring about the start of a panic attack.
  1. If distracting myself with music doesn’t help, I have to practice ‘box breathing’ until I can leave the situation or feel more calm.
    Boxbreathing for those that don’t know the term, is when you do everything for four counts; breathing in, holding your breath, breathing out and staying empty and then you start again.
  1. Refraining from getting an actual panic attack is really tiring.
  1. Green spaces or quiet cafes are good places to take a break and recharge.
  1. Saying out loud that you’re struggling helps. Acknowledging that you’re getting overloaded or feel a panic attack looming, means that you can try to do something about it. And when you’re with others they can help you or try to distract you.

Back to peace and quiet

After those 1,5 days I was extremely happy to leave the city. And from now on I’ll double my efforts in avoiding places with so many people.

Do you also suffer from panic attacks or experiencing sensory overload? What are the things that help you?

2 Replies to “Six lessons I learned from my panic attacks in a crowded city”

  1. Hi Evie, I also have problems on a crowded bus (in Stockholm where I live) and I also do ‘box breathing’ and I focus on the front of the bus where I can see out, and I also pray for the people on the bus. This gets my focus off of myself. Glad you are able to travel! I will be flying to Oregon, in the US in May for my Mom’s 88th birthday, and a first trip in 6 years since my TBI. (deep breathe) Hoping all goes well!
    Wishing you a day filled with joy! Delores

    1. Thanks! Next time I’m going to try to think about the other people on the bus, that’s quite a good idea. 🙂
      I really hope and wish that your trip to the US will go well! And very early congratulations with your mum’s birthday. That will be a special celebration! All the best!

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