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Panic.

Discussion in 'Bushcraft Chatter' started by Wayland, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. Scally

    Scally C.E.S.L Notts explorers

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    Maybe a little explenation to the physical effects (not a doctor and could be barking up the wrong tree) But the numbness and coldness sounds like you hyperventilated a bit and the toxins built up causing symptoms ?
     
  2. Bodge

    Bodge Full Member

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    This also happened to a friend of mine years ago. He was training himself up with a view to joining the army.
    Myself and another m8 went "roughing it" in the peak district in a nice bit of woodland by a stream, this other friend joined us and we made a natural shelter with a bit of help from a poncho (we'd been drinking cider):D
    Anyway long story short, in the wee small hours my army mate woke bolt upright crashing his head through the shelter, climbed through it and proceeded to run around the camp bumping in to things etc. It scared the living daylights out of the rest of us, and when my army mate calmed down and focused he said he thought we'd buried him alive.
    We still joke about it now although I dont see my army mate very often. He never joined the army in the end, he had a career change.

    I wonder wayland, if it's somthing to do with the earthy smell of the leaves triggering a sub conscious instinct or somthing.

    Bodge
     
  3. BorderReiver

    BorderReiver Full Member

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    "I suspect that tale may have added to my subconscious attack of panic and that, while being a surprise, is quite easy to understand I suppose. The thing that really caught me off guard was the physical shock brought on by what was, in effect, just a bad dream."

    It wasn't "just a bad dream" Wayland.

    Being stuck as you were in the cave is a real threat to life and the fear would have burned itself into your mind.

    This sort of memory can lie dormant, as it did in your case, for many years, just waiting for a trigger. What you seem to have suffered is a kind of post traumatic stress reaction, with all the associated physical symptoms.
     
  4. Nagual

    Nagual Native

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    On one of the many courses I've done over the years,one involved post stress reactions and symptoms. I can't recall the proper name of it now, however the basis of it was that when someone, like yourself, experiences something that is very trumatic and possibly life threatening the brain deals with it in various ways. One of which is to supress various reactions and feelings at the time to aid survival. These same feelings can come to the surface much later on and be triggered by almost anything. Victims of assault often have episodes of unexplained anger or fear, months or years after the incident.

    From what you've wrote it would appear that may have happened to you. You were in a difficult situation that was potentially life threatening. You calmed yourself down and no doubt learned a great deal from that. However, you still suffered a horrid fright, where many people would have freaked out and truly paniced, you got a hold of yourself and controlled your actions. The feelings you experienced at the camp could have been the same feelings reemerging. You reacted with the fight or flight reflex. Since you were able to move reletively freely, you did so. This isn't a bad thing at all, as being aware of it and coming to terms with it can be a journey in itself. I'm happy to see it's a jouney you are willing to share, as it makes it a lot easier.


    Cheers, Nag.
     
  5. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    I guess that's certainly a possibility.

    I think there is probably a deep rooted fear of being buried alive among the general population.

    I know of more than one person who says they want to be cremated after death because they just don't like the idea of being buried.
     
  6. rik_uk3

    rik_uk3 Banned

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    Wayland, don't worry about it mate, you sound as if you had a panic/anxiety attack. You were in a trigger event that set it off; here is my tale

    About 12 years ago, my wife went off to work an early shift at the hospital, I got up about 07:30 and woke the kids up for School. They had breakfast, and I stood in the kitchen doorway enjoying the sound of the stream and birds in the trees. BANG: I could not breath, fingers numb, chest tight, I shouted for help and as good as gold, my daughter (about 11 years old) dialed 999. There I am having a heart attack, paramedics pick me up, I'm still conscious, looking at the BP monitor in the ambulance, the readings are sky high.

    I get to A&E, all the tests are done and the Doctor says to me "congratulations, no heart problem, you had a panic attack" I replied that that can't happen, I nurse for a living etc, "no" he said, you had a panic attack. He was right; the symptoms for both are much the same. The experience frightened the %&*T out of me.

    I was very lucky, my wife who was then running an Acute Psychiatric ward and is now Senior Therapeutic Nurse said she could see it coming for a while, I'd lost my mom, step dad and very close friend in short order, but knew that me being me I would not listen (I can be bone headed) let things take its course, plus gave me support after the event.

    Its a terrible experience to go through Wayland, but I've been there myself mate, got through it and don't allow them to happen anymore.

    Don't sweat it chap

    Richard
     
  7. TheGreenMan

    TheGreenMan New Member

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    I think you're both right:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperventilation

    And I could feel the tide of panic rising in me, Wayland, when reading about the tunnel <shudder>.

    Kind regards,
    Paul.
     
  8. Cobweb

    Cobweb Native

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    Hugs to you Wayland, it's a nasty thing to happen. I've had similar experiences in the past and the only way to cope is to get through them. I hope you are felling better :)
     
  9. LazySod

    LazySod Need to contact Admin...

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    On half a dozen or so occasions over the last eighteen months, i've shot bolt upright in bed dripping in sweat and hyperventilating. This is always caused by a bad dream about getting trapped while potholing in a tight tunnel.

    I can't just shake it off and go back to sleep, i have to get up and make a brew and watch tv for a while or i just get a repeat performance an hour or so later.

    The thing is, i've never been potholing or had any desire to, i've no recollection of ever being trapped anywhere, and i've never suffered with claustrophobia (sp?).

    I now seem to have developed some degree of claustrophobia but avoid situations that bring on the feelings of panic.

    Can i have developed claustrophbia from just a bad dream?
     
  10. firecrest

    firecrest Full Member

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    If the feelings in these dreams are accompanied by a sense of heavy weight on the chest, an extreme fear, paralysis and often a sense of an evil presence in the room,(including feeling a person touching you, lying/sitting on you) then this is caused by a syndrome that goes by a number of names, most commonly known as a sleep paralysis episode. The person usually opens their eyes and finds they are "awake" but unable to move their body. there is extreme fear and difficulty breathing, and in my case its also accompanied by the presence of something sat on my chest pressing its face into mine.
    It actually isnt a dream in the true sense, its common and they spent a long time studying people with the disorder. Its basically caused by two areas of the brain - when we are awake one is one and when we fall asleep the other part switches on instead. In these episodes both switch on at the same time, causing the strange and for some reason, terrifying, sensation of being awake and asleep at the same time. The body is paralysed because it naturally is during to sleep so we dont act out our dreams, so when the person tries to move they cannot.
    ive suffered from the condition for a number of years, and it mostly arises during periods of stress in my life. its extremely frightening but once you know what it is, it makes it easier to deal with.
     
  11. Singeblister

    Singeblister New Member

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    I get this sometimes Gary , it started after my accident I can only assume it was down to the big crowd of people standing over me watching me bleed to death that caused it . I don't think its quite as bad as you describe but I can understand what you went though and hats off to you for thinking your way out of it , I could see me knocking the shelter down on debs and andys heads to get out lol
     
  12. Adrian

    Adrian Full Member

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    Full sympathies there Wayland. About 38 years ago when I was 17, I was on a training week with my school in N Wales, and we went caving. I got stuck in a pipe and like you - arms out in front and jammed by the battery pack. Fortunately, the guys behind me got a rope round my ankles and while one kept talking to me to keep me calm, the others managed to pull me out backwards.
    Back out in the daylight - hot sweet tea - most of which I spilled over myself through shaking. Took me about quite a while before I could sleep in a room with the door and window closed (although I'd always preferred the window open anyway), or put my arms inside a sleeping bag -( bit of a problem on expeditions) and I still can't go down a tight tunnel without having to do breathing exercises. The darkness isn't a problem though.
     
  13. Oakleaf

    Oakleaf Full Member

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    Does sound like hyperventilation. Take comfort that you rationalised ( regardless of diagnosis ) and took postive steps to remedy.

    Years ago used goretex bivi - bag and several times awoke convinced I was trapped. Ended up coming fully awake to find I was trying to claw my way out of the ground side of the bag. Felt foolish until noted it happening to three or four people over the next few years.

    Dougster and anyone of Waynes First Aid course last April will attest that anorexia has never been an issue for me. Did some extensive caving when studied geology - I alsways got shoved in first on basis that everyone else could easily follow...:puppy_dog
     
  14. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    Not sure about the diagnosis.

    Although my heart was racing but my breathing seemed fairly normal at the time.

    It was when my legs and arms started to chill suddenly that I assumed the capillaries were being shut down to protect the body core, which I always understood to be one of the symptoms of shock.

    I must admit that I can't find a reference for it at the moment though. :dunno:
     
  15. John Fenna

    John Fenna Lifetime Member & Maker

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    I used to cave a lot - but only ever got a real go of claustaphobia in a sleeping bag when I woke uo curled up into the bottom of it (when I ad also closed it up to the smallest posible face hole as it was COLD) with a bursting bladder and couldn't find my way out!
    Full on panic attack with hyperventilation the lot - burst my way out eventualy (just in time!) but as I was leading a group of kids at the time I had no one to talk to about it and was very shaken up.
    It is not a nice thing to experience!
     
  16. Mike Ameling

    Mike Ameling Need to contact Admin...

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    Never had much inclination to go caving for fun. Playing "tunnel rat" a time or three has a way of curing a person of wanting to go caving for fun.

    Mental scars you say?

    Mikey - yee ol' grumpy blacksmith out in the Hinterlands
     
  17. xavierdoc

    xavierdoc Full Member

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    Not too much, too little if anything. The oxygen is actually fairly constant in the blood, during hyperventilation, but doesn't reach the parts needing it (brain!) due to vasoconstriction (vessels tightening).

    I think the link to wikipedia covers a lot of it. The acid-base balance of the body is disrupted by blowing-off too much carbon dioxide, causing hypocapnia (too little CO2 in blood). This affects perfusion of the brain as blood vessels constrict, but also changes the amount of calcium that is available in the blood. The actual amount of calcium is the same, it just isn't available to take part in normal reactions.

    The tingling around the mouth (perioral dysaesthesia) and of the fingers is a result of the "low" calcium. The hands can go into a characteristic spasm if this situation worsens (carpo-pedal spasm).

    Thankfully, these are early signs of imbalance and the bodies acid-base balance can quickly be restored by means of the old paper bag, as above. Breathing in and out of the bag slightly increases the CO2 content in the bag and thus of each breath taken in. The secondary effect is it gives the patient something to concentrate on and to consciously control their breathing.

    Hyperventilation can occur with slow, deep breathing just as much as fast shallow panting, so can go unnoticed by the victim and those around him. Taking deep breaths is not necessarily good advice for those in the grip of a panic attack.

    The knowledge that YOU can control and resolve the problem is the crux of it. Unfortunatley, it is difficult to think properly when it grips you.

    It's surprisingly common and very scary when it happens, as we can all see from the posts in this thread. Just remember that chest pain/tightness can still be a heart attack, and no Dr is going to be p*ssed off if you attend A&E but it turns out to be a panic attack.

    EDIT: No "good" Dr, anyway.

    Good luck, all.
     
  18. xavierdoc

    xavierdoc Full Member

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    I dislike the term "panic attack" as it belittles the extreme experience of the victim and also seems derogatory to their mental fortitude. Not sure what a better term would be?

    You did well controlling the situation, Wayland, and you are correct that reduced blood flow to the peripheries can be a sign of shock. However, in the case of hyperventilation what you probably experience is the feeling that the limbs are cold due to the dysfunction of the nerves that supply them with sensation (for the same reason as tingling around mouth and digits, described in my post above). The vasoconstriction effect can amplify that feeling but is not occuring for the same reason as occurs in eg: hypovolaemic shock due to blood loss.

    Your breathing may well have felt normal, as described in my previous post, it can be very insidious and doesn't fit the stereotype of hysterical panting.

    You say you are not sure about the diagnosis- of course you should doubt it! Keep an open mind and if you want reassurance, see your GP and explain what happened. It is remotely possible that you had a transient arrythmia (temporary abnormal heart rhythm)accounting for the heart racing and the feeling of panic: chicken and egg type of thing.

    I am sure you are fit and healthy, but internet diagnosis/misdiagnosis, while well-intentioned, cannot susbstiute for proper medical assessment (which I concede is not always available :eek: )

    Regardless of the cause, you correctly followed the advice of the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy: Don't Panic. Often the most important initial step in first aid.
     
  19. Wayland

    Wayland Hárbarðr

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    Reading through some old posts, looking for one to resurrect, I came across this again.

    Something I haven't thought about for a long time now but interestingly I still prefer to sleep in open shelters and don't really like closing a tent up much.

    The other thing that struck me was how many old friends added to this post and some of them I've not seen or heard of for years, sadly, at least one has passed away now.
     
    Janne, Wildgoose and santaman2000 like this.
  20. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    Our mind works in mysterious ways. To make things more 'interesting' it can mix up 'useful' fears and phobias with useless ones.
     

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