What Are Panic Attacks?


A panic attack is one of the most distressing conditions that people suffer from today – according to an official report. It causes physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat, chest pains, difficulty breathing and numbness. The mental effects include feeling afraid for no reason though they might be caused by thinking about past events or worries about what’s happening now. They may also be triggered by certain situations – like crowds or driving – or they might occur without any obvious cause at all.

A panic attack is overwhelming anxiety that leaves you feeling out of control.

Symptoms include your heart racing, chest pain, difficulty breathing, numbness or tingling in the face and hands, dizziness, hot flashes, chills, cold sweats.

What Triggers A Panic Attack?


Panic attacks can be triggered by specific situations or events once they happen though it’s often hard to tell if something triggered the attack or if it came from nowhere. That’s because during a panic attack, your brain releases norepinephrine – sometimes called the fight-or-flight hormone – which surges through your body and floods your nervous system causing physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath while mentally you are feeling afraid.

Can a Panic Attack Lead to Other Problems?


In rare cases, panic attacks can lead to agoraphobia, which is an intense fear of being out in public places where you might have a panic attack. Agoraphobia can make it hard for people to go outside their homes alone. In some cases, panic disorder leads to depression. In fact, 20% of people who have had one panic attack will end up developing another anxiety disorder within six months.

How Is A Panic Disorder Diagnosed?

To be diagnosed with panic disorder, you must experience unexpected panic attacks, and at least one of the episodes must cause concern or worry for at least a month. Some people are afraid of leaving their houses because they are afraid of having another panic attack.

Photo by Valeria Ushakova on Pexels.com

How can I get help for Panic Attacks?


Panic disorder is generally first treated with medications that may include anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants. Other treatments include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which involves counselling by a therapist on how to change your thinking patterns and behaviour, relaxation techniques, hypnosis, meditation, exercise and acupuncture.

Is A Panic Attack The Same As A Burnout?

A panic attack can feel like a total mental and physical breakdown. It leaves you feeling weak, shaky, lightheaded, fatigued and often short of breath. The symptoms are so severe that they force you to make drastic changes in your life to avoid the symptoms occurring again. For example, it may mean avoiding certain activities or places where you might have had an attack in the past.


The symptoms of burnout include exhaustion, confusion, lethargy, apathy (a lack of interest), memory problems and difficulties concentrating. But a panic attack is not a burnout – though many people who feel overwhelmed by stress do suffer from them both at some point.

Burnouts are often brought on by long periods of high stress. And they happen when you have pushed your mind and body to the limit, usually because of work-related reasons. Burnout can result in anxiety, depression or even suicide, but not panic attacks.

In Closing

The good news is panic attacks are treatable without medication, but it’s important to talk to your doctor or therapist so they can help you get the right treatment.

I am Autistic and I prefer structure

Do you know how to make a person with autism comfortable? Give them structure.


When I am uncomfortable, stressed, overstimulated, or upset, the only thing that helps is having a very specific schedule. If there is a fire drill or another unexpected disruption in my schedule – no matter what it is – I get extremely agitated and might even have a meltdown. I need everything at certain times for certain amounts of time. Having this will reduce anxiety and allow me to function better if things happen that are not expected.

So here’s my advice: get rid of clutter! Clutter contributes to sensory overload, which leads to meltdowns. In one of my previous blog posts, I discussed the feeling of being overwhelmed by different sensations all at once and how this leads to anxiety and stress. If your loved one with autism has a meltdown and it happens in your home, the first thing you need to do is clean up clutter! They will be so overwhelmed by seeing everything disorganized that they might have been able to deal with their feelings before, but now suddenly, it’s too much for them. By cleaning up after a meltdown, you are reducing sensory stimuli, giving them something new to focus on, and creating a less overwhelming environment for them – all of which helps reduce future meltdowns or at least prevents smaller ones from escalating into bigger ones.


It also works the other way around: if I notice that my loved ones are having a rough time emotionally or feel overloaded, I remind them about their schedule and encourage them to stick to it as much as possible. This helps reduce stress for them, and I feel like it is the least I can do if they are supporting me in any way.

So be as organized as you can because you never know when a loved one with autism will need your guidance! And don’t forget that people with autism have emotions just like everyone else – we have good days and bad days. They might not always want or ask for help, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t really need it. Give us a chance to show how strong we actually are by being there for us emotionally whenever we need someone. We love hugs, kisses, cuddles, kind words – all of those things tell us that someone cares. The world is overwhelming enough already, so if you can make it a little bit easier for us, do!


I know it might be hard to remember all of this in the beginning – trust me, I understand how difficult it can be to learn or think about something like this! But take your time and remember that even though people with autism may seem like they are perfect at coping with everything life throws their way, they actually need help sometimes. So don’t be afraid to step up and try out some new strategies or approaches that will work best for you and your loved one!

“But wait…” you might say. “How am I supposed to know what my loved one needs? What if I can’t tell that they’re overwhelmed or overstimulated?”

The good news is that I have a very simple solution for this problem, and it’s even something you can do yourself! The answer you’re looking for is structure.


Take a day where everything has to happen at the same time – your loved one with autism isn’t allowed to shift anything around. If they need to take a bath between 3:00-3:10, make them take it on the dot – if necessary, set an alarm clock right next to them, so they know exactly when it’s time. Give them only 15 minutes after breakfast to play with their favourite toy and then give it back – no negotiating! And most importantly: don’t let them create any new rules or expectations! Make sure that they have a schedule written down and follow it as close as possible.

At first, they might even hate you for taking away their freedom to make new plans – but with time, your loved one will learn that this is how life works sometimes. This is the only way to reduce anxiety related to unpredictability and prepare them for situations where things don’t always go according to plan. And let me tell you from my own experience: a little bit of structure goes a long way. It helps us feel more relaxed and secure, which ultimately leads to everyone being happier.

“So there you go,” you say, “you just told me how I can help someone with autism! Now, what about the other way around?”


Well, if your loved one with autism helps you to be more organized and gives you that sense of security that comes from knowing that there is a plan in place for everything without having to think about it all the time. Well, don’t tell them I said this, but they might make an excellent assistant.

Being in charge of keeping track of their schedule in addition to yours (or maybe even instead of yours) sounds like quite the task. But think about it: when do you feel most overwhelmed or tired? And when are things easiest for you – do certain people’s company help with your mood? If so, then that is the time you should try to use your help the most. Work together to make sure all of your plans will be met, and both of your needs can be fulfilled!

You might worry about how much all this structure might cost: “Will I have to change my entire life around?” or “Where will we sit at lunch? Will we always eat at the same time now?”. Don’t worry – as long as you’re helping without making too many sacrifices for it, there isn’t really anything wrong with combining schedules! I know that sounds like a contradiction, but keep in mind that everyone involved has probably been feeling overwhelmed by chaotic situations (for example: working retail or waiting tables where everything constantly changes – not to mention any job where clients change their minds every five seconds) for a good reason. The person with autism might not have been able to tell you why, but perhaps now you can understand the need they have for predictability and order – sometimes even more so than other people! So let them help out whenever possible – it will also help to learn about your personal limits when it comes to schedules.


Of course, there are always exceptions. Sometimes, thanks to sensory issues or another mental disability, your loved one just won’t be able to take on that responsibility right away. Or maybe they simply don’t want something that difficult in their life right now (it’s unlikely this would happen if they’re grown adults but still). You should not feel pressured into taking up this task if you don’t want to – I have heard horror stories about people being obsessed with controlling every aspect of their loved one’s life, and that is definitely not worth it.

The goal here is to make everyone’s lives easier. So an exception is fine, as long as it doesn’t undermine the point of trying out this new routine in the first place (for example, “I’m sorry but my daughter is sick today, let me know if there are any changes”). Just because your loved one’s comfort means a little more to you than anyone else’s does not mean you should be willing to make huge sacrifices for them at any time! You wouldn’t like it if they did that! (And they will most likely feel bad for having asked in the first place if you let them down.)


Don’t underestimate the importance of this structure once you have it. You would not believe how many times I have heard about someone with autism being late to an appointment by even just ten minutes, simply because they forgot what time it was or got distracted. And then their friends are upset that they ignored them all day after promising they’d come over! Now obviously, your loved one is not doing that on purpose – but if something so small can cause so much trouble, imagine how nice it will be to avoid those situations in the future by doing things at scheduled times instead of whenever works for you and not everyone else. Besides, your friend will still appreciate the fact that you care enough to show up at all!

(If you’re hearing about all of this and wondering why your loved one’s caretakers didn’t mention any of it before, don’t worry! Usually, people with autism will realize that their behaviour is inconvenient to those around them as they grow older. And like anyone else, they should be able to learn whatever skills they need on their own.)

So how should we make sure we can talk about these issues?


First off: Patience. Second: Be Clear. If the person you’re talking to isn’t understanding something or really doesn’t want to cooperate (in which case: “You don’t have to do anything I ask!”), then let them know that. Don’t just ignore it because you think you know better! That’s actually the worst thing you can do.

Don’t hesitate to talk about I am Autistic, especially if it’s relevant! It might seem strange at first, but your loved one might be relieved that you don’t just think of them as “your friend.” And remember, none of this is anybody’s fault – everyone does their best with what they have. So let’s all make this easier for each other by learning how to work together.

10 Tips on how to prevent Burnout

    It’s no secret that many people burn out

    We do so much and we give so much of ourselves to the things that we care about, yet when it comes time for us to be given our reward or when we look back on what we’ve done, nobody knows who we are. Nobody cares, and often times even worse, they don’t even notice what it is that we’ve done.


    However, the reward of feeling like you’re making a difference in this world is often enough to keep us going. If you want to continue doing things that are meaningful or if you simply want to avoid getting burned out, here are some things that may help:

    1. Take a break


    If you’ve been working on a project for a few hours, take a small break and come back to it after 5-10 minutes. Often times when we get stuck or have some sort of problem that causes resistance in our work, stepping away from the situation for just five minutes can be enough to allow us to come at it from a fresh perspective and find a solution.

    2. Make a list of three things that you’re grateful for before going to bed each night


    The more we focus on all the negative things in our lives, the less energy we have to put into our work or the tasks that matter most. By taking just a few minutes each night before going to bed, we can force ourselves to see that there are good things in our lives. At the very least, if nothing else, making a list of three things that you’re grateful for will push negativity out of your mind for at least a little while.

    3. Change your environment


    If you’ve been doing the same thing for too long, change your environment before you go crazy. Sometimes it’s enough to simply move locations, whether this means getting up and walking across the room or going all-out by moving into a new house or apartment.

    Try to look for something that will allow you to see life from a different perspective. If there are certain people who are affecting you negatively, try spending time with different friends. If you’ve been working the same job for too long, try taking on a new project or learning something entirely new that does not involve your previous work.

    4. Do something that scares you


    Instead of focusing all your energy into one thing, like climbing a mountain or learning a new instrument, focus it into a dozen or so different things. By doing this, there is far less risk that you will burn out because you are constantly learning new things and exploring new territory without focusing all of your energy into one thing at a time.

    5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks


    If you’re an entrepreneur, don’t be afraid to pay for some help. If you’ve been doing the same tasks over and over again, chances are that somebody out there has already created a way to do it better than you can yourself. Just because you’re trying to save money doesn’t mean that you can’t hire somebody else to do some of these tasks.

    6. Enjoy your down time


    People burn out because they spend too much of their time working and not enough of it relaxing. Don’t fall into this trap. Make sure you spend at least some time every week doing something completely unrelated to your work, whether this means reading a book, watching some TV or even just taking a walk around the neighborhood. If you spend enough time doing this, you’ll be able to come back to your work refreshed and ready to tackle it with new vigor.

    7. Stop trying to multitask


    If you’re constantly checking your email while working on another project, chances are that you’ll end up getting far less done than if you were simply focusing all of your attention on just one task. While there are some people who can successfully multitask, most find that they get far more done when they simply focus all their attention onto one thing at a time.

    8. Take regular breaks throughout the day


    It’s normal for us to take frequent breaks while working on something or even watching TV, but most of us fail to realize that taking breaks while working is just as important. Without regular breaks, your mind will become tired and you’ll be more likely to make mistakes.

    9. Remember that there’s only so much you can do in one day


    It’s easy to get overwhelmed when we look at how much work we have left to do. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, remind yourself that there’s only so many hours in one day and you can only get done what you’re capable of getting done.

    10. Learn how to say “no”


    There are few things more effective for preventing burnout than simply learning how to say “no”. Without this ability, you’ll find yourself constantly taking on one project after another and, before you know it, your work will begin piling up to the point where you can no longer handle everything. Don’t be afraid to turn down a project if it’s going to cause you to overwork yourself or if it isn’t going well.

Day 8 post failed suicide attempt – Autistic Burnout



Nurse takes blood pressure. Inspects the wound on my wrist, stitches can be removed in the next day or two. Healing very well.



Wait for Psychiatrist…


He arrives at 9:00 and we start talking in a very relaxed manner. He looks calmer than in the previous sessions. He is as tall as I am and today he is wearing casual wear. It adds to the relaxed environment. He even smiles a bit. I feel like he is actually onto something and I start to feel a bit of hope spring up inside me.

He starts asking me about the feelings I experienced just before I tried to commit suicide (and I didn’t want to kill myself).

I explained it like this:

I was always aware of extreme pressure in my life. Mentally, emotionally and physically. Life was always tough. I remember the day my body drove me out to the mountains and tried to kill me, that I felt exhausted. I felt empty. I needed rest. I needed sleep. I felt that I have reached the end of what was possible to give in this life. My life-force has been drained. My ‘chi’ was disappearing. I felt that this wonderful scary adventure called life has come to an end. I was done…

He looked at me with a little bit of a smile and said I experienced autistic burnout. I literally lived my life to the fullest and I drained every last drop out of every facet of my life, and the suicide attempt was me trying to end me because I had nothing left to give. I spent it all.


He complimented me on my self awareness and my ability to communicate extremely well in describing exactly what transpired. He started explaining to me that people with autism build a public persona to mask their condition, in order to be able to function in society. This masking or camouflaging is extremely taxing on your resources: spiritually, mentally and physically. He explained that my unique, complex condition fascinated him. Apparently people with my condition and the co-morbid ADHD and OCPD (OCD) and depression, usually attempt suicide at 15. I managed to fight off this dragon of death until I was in my early forties! I started building an entire personality with this masking technique and drifted away from my own core. I also started developing a third entity when I drank alcohol, a kind of a man-child if you will. The rebel, the risk taker, the instigator, the reckless, the dangerous one. He suspects that my true self, and the other two were at loggerheads and tried to ‘take over’ the executive functioning, I was about to split! After the battle for my soul, one of those three survived, and he suspects it is the true me.

He asked me to read up on Autistic Burnout and see if I can recognize myself in some of the literature.

He double checked on my prescription and told the nurse that I can stop taking the heavy sleeping pills. He prescribed an anti-psychotic which would assist me with falling asleep at night. We’ll try it, I thought. He greeted me and left.



I spent the afternoon reading about Autistic Burnout

‘Autistic burnout’ is the intense physical, mental or emotional exhaustion, often accompanied by a loss of skills, that some adults with autism experience. Many autistic people say it results mainly from the cumulative effect of having to navigate a world that is designed for neurotypical people.

Burnout may especially affect autistic adults who have strong cognitive and language abilities and are working or going to school with neurotypical people.

Like many aspects of autism, burnout varies greatly from person to person. Some autistic people experience it as an overwhelming sense of physical exhaustion. They may have more difficulty managing their emotions than usual and be prone to outbursts of sadness or anger. Burnout may manifest as intense anxiety or contribute to depression or suicidal behavior.


Well, that explains a lot!

I read and read and read and read…




I read more and more and more and more!

Finally I felt like the past started to make sense, I kind of started to see why he had that look on his face, like he thinks I need to put my own puzzle together and he just handed me the last piece.

I had tea.

Took my medication, and for the first time felt that this day was well spent, and eventually I drifted away…