Today, I had a panic attack for four hours. Wasn’t that great?
You know why I had a panic attack?
It’s because I have generalized anxiety, or actually that’s what I used to have, because I got into a car wreck — where somebody ran a stop sign and hit me and totaled my car and sent me to the hospital with a traumatic brain injury — and then after that, I went to the therapist to get some help for the PTSD I was having from this wreck, and she said I don’t JUST have general anxiety …
I also have panic disorder!
I get panic attacks when I drive, when I’m going through intersections, or when I’m just thinking about life sometimes.
How it manifests itself is that sometimes I have just a full breadth of anxiety, and it’s not even necessarily like my heart is racing, it can be just that I can feel like:
My heartbeat is sort of normal or something … but then again, it’s not!
And then it just feels like my body is pulsing and pulsing and pulsing, it’s tight.
And then every now and then, it turns into a little bit of depression, not like the kind of depression that I am necessarily going to get on medicine for it. Not that I’m against medicine.
And then I do all these breathing exercises.
What happened today is, I drove to the Vegas Strip to do some work, and I got there and I was just increasingly getting a panic attack.
It was from the driving, because driving after this wreck, every intersection I go through I’m just white-knuckling.
I drive like:
“Oh my God. Oh my God. Is somebody gonna hit me like that guy did?”
It’s so intense.
So I got where I needed to be today. I went to the Aria hotel. I covered this charity poker thing. (I put a video up on my other channel from it, my Doug Elfman channel on YouTube.)
So I got there to do this red carpet, and Ted Danson was there, and Jennifer Tilly, and then some other celebrities.
That is not normally nerve-racking to me, because I’ve been doing celebrity red carpet stuff for a decade-plus, so I’m used to it.
But my panic attack didn’t go away during the red carpet, because there is stress there, because you’re trying to cover it.
So the panic attack lasted throughout the time I was at the red carpet, and that sucked. But I got through it.
Fortunately I had my friend Gabe there. I didn’t mention to him that I had a panic attack, because he’s a photographer and he’s just trying to do his job. He doesn’t need to babysit me.
So then the red carpet goes on and Ted Danson comes out, and I didn’t talk to him. He just came out and he was very pleasant, of course, and super sweet. It’s Ted Danson. You know, everybody loves Ted Danson. He loves everybody.
Jennifer Tilly comes out. She is like the greatest person who’s ever lived. She’s super sweet and nice and kind to everybody.
And the other celebrities were great. It’s a charity event, so the kind of celebrities who are signing up for a charity event are nice people, you know. Some athletes were there. Some guy named Big Country. Some football players. Kevin Pollak, the actor was there.
I was having a panic attack during the red carpet, so I just kind of kept doing these deep breathing things.
I learned this thing from a psychiatrist on YouTube named De. Tracey Marks. She has this coping mechanism where she said:
If you hum then you’ve got this nerve situation in your throat, where if you hum or if you do yoga “ohms,” then that vibration of the humming affects your nerves in a way that counteracts the adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones you get during a panic attack, hormones that are flooding through your brain.
So when I have a panic attack, there’s a thing in my head called the amygdala, and the amygdala is where the adrenaline and the cortisol come out, and those are stress hormones. And the reason you need those stress hormones is in case lions are coming after you … so you get all these stress hormones coming at you, going, “Run from the lion, run, run, run, run, run, run.”
That’s why you need all those stress hormones so you can run from a lion … but of course we don’t run from lions in this civilization. But we still have our brains that are attuned to the way that we used to be hunter-gatherers.
Anyway, so what I’m getting at is, I’m there on the red carpet and here are the celebrities.
I’ve driven here, and I’ve got this panic attack going on and it’s hitting like minute-30, minute-60.
I’m doing this “ujjayi” yoga breath when I’m inhaling, and I’m humming when I’m exhaling, but if you were looking at me, I just looked like I was working, because you can’t hear the breathing and humming exercising I’m doing next to a loud red carpet.
So I was doing all that to get through the carpet and enjoy the carpet as much as possible, because you want to enjoy your work and you want to enjoy a red carpet.
Finally the red carpet comes to an end and I went and sat down.
It was a poker tournament for charity. I found a little chair somewhere. I had some free cheese and a free cookie. And I sat there and I had the free cheese and the free cookie.
I was breathing in, doing the ujjayi yoga breath and humming.
I was editing the video so that I could put it up on Doug Elfman (my second YouTube channel).
And then I finished that and then I thought:
“OK. I need to walk to my car.”
I walked to my car, and I get in my car, and that panic attack is getting worse, not better.
But I’ve got to get out of there, because it’s not a conducive place to be.
I love the Strip but when you’re having a panic attack, being surrounded by eight gazillion tourists and all of the craziness of the Strip, it’s not helpful.
I knew I’d be better off at home.
So I get in the car and I’m doing my breathing and I’m talking, I’m doing prayers. I’m doing every single thing I’ve ever learned about talking yourself through a panic attack. I’m trying to self-soothe.
Driving, of course, is exacerbating this panic attack a little bit, or at least keeping it going, but my choice was to be on the Strip with a crazy amount of sound and lights and everything else, or to try to escape. So I chose to escape.
I mean, I rationally didn’t think I would get in a wreck, and plus, there’s so much construction going on near the Strip that I was going 0 miles an hour for like, you know, 12 or 15 minutes.
And so I get through the construction, and I just kept talking and kept breathing and kept humming — and that panic attack would not go away!
So I stopped at a Smith’s grocery store to get some Vegenaise, which is like a vegan mayonnaise.
So I’m walking through the store, and I’ve been in that store a lot, I have good memories of that store (this is not an advertisement, I’m not sponsored by Smith’s, but I do like that Smith’s in Summerlin).
So I’m walking through Smith’s, and everybody seems kind … and sad.
It’s Saturday night, you know, and the people that are in the Smith’s on a Saturday night are lonely people.
So I’m like:
“Oh, I’m with a bunch of lonely people.”
My heart went out to them with empathy and sympathy, and being in a familiar place, this store, it just helped me a little bit.
So I got my little Vegenaise, and I got some tomatoes, and I checked out, and I got in the car, I was in the suburbs, and it’s quiet and I was like …
The panic attack is abating.
It’s been almost four hours!
So I get in the car and I have a quiet drive from The Smith’s to my house.
Then I get home, and I come in the house, and I made a sandwich and it was delicious.
And then the panic attack was gone.
I don’t wish a panic attack upon you. It sucks.
Ever since this guy ran a stop sign and totaled my car and sent me to the hospital with this traumatic brain injury and neck problems and shoulder pain (my neck is killing me right now), I keep getting panic attacks.
After the wreck, I was just getting them every day, every day, every day, every day, every other day.
And then they would slow down … and then they come again!
You just never know when they’re going to pop up.
For me, they start with anxiety that turns into a ball of panic.
And then, if you can get that panic feeling down, then I get a little bit angry. And then sometimes it turns into sadness.
And then it’ll all kind of go away.
But then you have the hangover of all that. You know how you can have a hangover after drinking? Well, I haven’t had any drinking today, but I have a panic disorder hangover. So everything seems like I’m hyper aware of everything.
Once that adrenaline is in your body, that adrenalin runs around your body for 24 hours or 48 hours or something. You can’t get rid of it.
Sometimes I can redirect it and go:
“This is not anxiety, this is excitement, this is energy!”
So I’ll try to use that energy to exercise, but then when I do that, sometimes I get angry because I’m using that adrenaline to do weightlifting or to be on my treadmill, and that sometimes turns into anger.
This is quite the little roller coaster.
Now I’m laughing about this, but that’s because I’m through it, you know.
Anyway, what an exciting day this has been.
I want to thank you all for hanging with me all the time.
I want to do one more thing. You can say it with me:
“I am enough. I deserve love and kindness and goodness.”
Now let’s just go: