The Surprising Way I Found Relief From My Panic Attacks

I popped Valium and drank endless cups of chamomile tea. I tried everything to cure my anxiety but this was the only thing that worked.

Anxiety, panic attacks,

Have you ever experienced an anxiety attack? If not, it feels like you’re going to die. And I’m not being melodramatic. Ten years ago, I suffered from anxiety. I popped Valium, drank endless cups of chamomile tea, I tried everything but nothing seemed to cure it.

The monster would creep up on me at the most unsuspecting times – usually when I was out with friends or in public. Noises would become louder and so irritating, little things would start to annoy me. My palms would become sweaty, my heart would race, my chest would burn, breathing became a chore, and my body would continually shake like a leaf. I’d get all hot and sweaty and no matter how much I tried to stop thinking about it, it felt as if my whole body was literally going to explode. There was nothing I could do until it eventually consumed me. I would either pass out from not breathing properly or ride its wave for the next hour, huddled over in a corner or on someone’s lounge literally picking the clothes off my body because they were irritating my skin.

Bianca Cheah, Anxiety, panic attacks
Photography by Eddie New

“PANIC ATTACKS ARE SURPRISINGLY COMMON. UP TO 40 PER CENT OF THE POPULATION WILL EXPERIENCE A PANIC ATTACK AT SOME TIME IN THEIR LIFE,” STATES BEYOND BLUE.

The cause

It wasn’t until my employer at the time sent me to see a counselor that I started to get it sorted. I’d been having way too many sick days and honestly I think they were fed up with it. Nevertheless, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. It turned out, it was all linked to my thinking and my diet.

I’ll admit, I myself considered my diet as more on the sugary side. But who doesn’t have a sweet tooth? Since I was a large consumer of healthy salads and fruits, along with chocolate, lollies and many double shot coffees, I didn’t know my diet could have such an impact on my health. My sugar and caffeine levels were spiking, which not only caused my body to react, but this reaction was what was causing my anxiety attacks.

In the Australian Psychological Society’s Stress & Wellbeing Survey 2015, ‘personal financial issues’, ‘health issues’, and ‘family issues’ were the top causes of stress for Australians. Interestingly, since 2012 when it was introduced as an item, the fourth most common cause of stress has been ‘issues relating to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.’

The cure

So how did I find relief from my anxiety? Green apples and breathing techniques.

BeeApple
Via iStock

For therapy, my counselor made me eat one whole green apple before breakfast, lunch and dinner. That’s a lot of apples I know, but it worked believe it or not! His theory was that it would stop my sugar cravings and it did.

Secondly, he introduced me to a breathing technique that I now know as the yogic Ujjayi breath. When I felt an attack coming on, I was to immediately find somewhere quiet, close my eyes and focus on inhaling for seven seconds through my nose and throat, and exhaling for seven seconds the same way. Whilst I was focusing on this type of breath work I imagined that I was floating in a warm crystal blue ocean with white sands, just looking up at the sky. I tried to feel the water sensations on my skin and the sunrays dancing on my face. Sometimes the monster would fight to come through to my ocean thoughts, but I’d shut him out as much as I could. Eventually my breathing would slow down, my senses would come back and my shaking would stop.

BeeBreathing
Photography by Emily Abay // Ujjayi breath work promotes relaxation

This new technique went on for a few months. I’ll admit it was hard at first to not give in to anxiety when it crashed down my door, but when it entered, the only thought I was, “what’s the worst thing that could happen to me if it consumed me again? I’m not going to die, yeah I might feel like crap but I’m not going to die.”

And it was these three things that cured my anxiety.

  1. Eating Green Apples: Eliminating all the high sugar foods and introducing green apples to stabilise my blood sugar levels
  2. Introducing Ujayi breath work and fitness into my life: Mastering the Ujayi breath was the best way to stop that panic or ‘flight or fight’ feeling when my anxiety came on. I also found it helped to exercise often.
  3. Telling the monster to f$%^k off: What’s the worst that can happen? You’re not going to die so tell the monster to get F*!#D cause he ain’t welcome in your life anymore.

Now ten years on, I’ve encountered only one anxiety attack. When I consider where I was to where I am now, I’m so thankful I sought help for something I was so embarrassed to have. I took pills to try and mask the problem, but it was getting to the root of it where I found the answer. If you’re suffering, don’t blanket anxiety with pills, why not try looking into yourself to fix it.

If you are experiencing an anxiety issues, there is help available. Please see a medical professional for expert advice. 
Previous articleOur favourite active wear buys under $100
Next article5 essential vitamins that your diet might be missing
As one of Australia’s leading fitness models and health bloggers, Bianca Cheah is a picture of glowing wellness. A businesswoman, entrepreneur, brand ambassador and one of the country's most high profile models, Bianca is a force to be reckoned with and is dedicated to sharing her wellness and health philosophy to Australia and the world. With a background in design, media and both the beauty and fitness industries, the Queensland-born beauty has spent the past decade becoming an authority on health, stylish living and wellbeing. Seeing a gap in the market for a stylish health and fitness site, Bianca launched a blog called Sporteluxe in December 2012 and in less than a year transformed it into the country's most innovative and exciting digital publication. Today as founder and Managing Director of Sporteluxe.com, Bianca is not only the face of Sporteluxe but oversees the strategy and direction, is the driving force behind the brand and has built the go-to site for everything luxe health, luxe fitness and luxe living and has now become a mini health empire for those who seek out inspiration daily. The Bianca Cheah empire continues to grow as she embarks on a number of exciting new collaborations, projects and business ventures in the beauty and health spheres.