I think that there is something wrong with me. I’ve always been a really strong guy. I don’t cry during sad movies or after a breakup, and I don’t get overemotional when I’m happy. I have a full time job that pays more than I could ever need, and I have a wonderful family. That being said, I have a constantly nagging in the back of my mind that something is not right. I always have a feeling that something is going to go wrong, and that I am going to be left feeling uneasy and uncomfortable.
Last weekend I was out for a drink with a bunch of coworkers. The bar began to get crowded after about thirty minutes and that’s when everything started to change. My chest got extremely tight and I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My heart began to beat very fast. I got so dizzy that I had to leave and step outside.
Once outside, my hands began to tingle. I thought that I might be having a heart attack so I called out for help. Luckily there was a bartender on a cigarette break that gave me a bag to breathe into until I could get back on my feet.
After that, I went home. I have been too afraid to tell anyone what happened. I am ashamed that I may be suffering from a mental illness. I do not want my wife or kids or friends to think any less of me. There is no way I am going to be able to come clean about something like this. My wife will just make me go to endless doctors and I don’t have the time or patience for that.
I am a very strong individual and I have been healthy my entire life. I really do not want to join therapy, or go on medication. What are some things I can do if I find myself in a similar situation to prevent another reaction like this?
“Strong but Scared”
Shame and Guilt
Dear “Strong but Scared,”
Many people are under the impression that having mental illness makes you less of a person or more weak. The fact is that millions of people suffer from mental illness symptoms every day, and are not aware of the easy tips and tricks they can use to combat the negative effects of their disease. Anxiety in men is possible, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. Feelings of guilt will make your anxiety worse, and you may suffer from another panic attack from getting too overwhelmed.
What happened to you at the bar happens to many men who suffer from anxiety. It was called a panic attack, and it might happen again, soon. What probably triggered the attack was the combination of alcohol and being in an overcrowded social setting. Panic attacks can include all of your symptoms as well as several others. Panic attacks can be accompanied with sweating, chills or hot flashes, stomach pain, nausea, lightheadedness, and cramping.
Next time you find yourself in a similar situation take note of who is around you and where the closest exits are. If you have to take a breather outside, do so. Fresh air can calm you down and relax you. Stop drinking alcohol and switch to cold water. This can refresh your senses and help you bring yourself back to the present moment.
Drinking liquor and beer can worsen the symptoms of anxiety in men. Men with anxiety often are not treated by professionals and seek to treat their illness with dangerous substances. This can lead to addiction and an early death.
Yoga for Men
Many people are under the impression that yoga is for woman. The fact is that many men do yoga and it has shown vast improvement for those suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. Yoga and meditation can reverse your negative symptoms and help you become a healthier, happier individual.
It can be embarrassing to go to yoga for men. My classes often are full of men of all ages, who are just as advanced as the next person. Men carry a lot of stress and tension in their lives, and yoga can help to eliminate some of that. This can lead to fewer panic tacks and feelings of anxiety in the future. Joining a yoga class can also improve levels of back, neck, and leg pain, as well as increase your flexibility.
Self-Blame and Guilt
It is key to your recovery that you do not keep all of this bottled up. There is no shame in having anxiety. You should not feel guilty for the way that your brain reacts to certain situations. You do not have to inform your wife, but there is a large chance that she is going to find out. You will have an episode in front of her, or even pass out and get hospitalized for a panic attack.
Having an emotional support system can be key to those who are trying to overcome a mental illness. This small group of close friends of family members can be there to show you unconditional love and support during this time of your life. They can go to therapy with you, and join in on other alternative forms of care for your anxiety with you.
When you have an emotional support group, conquering your disorder does not seem so bad. You can invite your wife to join you during yoga, or even go to a family yoga session with your kids. The opportunities to get involved in activities that help decrease anxiety are endless, just get started today!
Best of Luck,