Pink has opened up about her health struggles in the past, but now she’s sharing new details about her mental health journey. In a candid new Instagram post created with the Child Mind Institute for Mental Health Awareness Month, Pink revealed that she started suffering from panic attacks when she was in her 20s, and she’s since learnt a variety of methods for dealing with them.
“I used to get pretty awful panic attacks, and I didn’t know what was happening,” says the 42-year-old singer in the video. “I didn’t have anybody to talk to about it, and I didn’t know what to do. I would feel like I was having strokes, like, stroke symptoms; it was terrifying.”
Here’s how Pink dealt with panic attacks
In case you’re not familiar, panic attacks involve sudden waves of fear, discomfort, or a sense of losing control, even when there’s no clear danger or trigger, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Panic attacks can feel like a heart attack and cause trembling, tingling, or a rapid heart rate, and they can happen as often as several times a day or a few times a year.
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Pink goes on to explain that when she experienced panic attacks in the past, she would go to the hospital and sit in her car in the parking lot until she felt better, and if she didn’t, she would go to the emergency room. “I had a number of EKGs [a device that checks for heart conditions] that always led back to ‘You’re fine, you’re fine, there’s nothing wrong, you’re imagining it all, it’s all in your head,'” she says in the clip. So, she started seeing a therapist and learning techniques for how to cope. “I started learning all these steps on how to take care of myself,” continues Pink. “I’d never been taught how to take care of myself.”
Pink says in the video that she’s since created a ‘spiritual toolbox’ to help her deal with panic attacks. It includes things, such as lighting candles and incense to calm down and starting practices to “take care of me and my heart and my head,” including “full moon ceremonies for women only” and meditation.
She also leaned into writing and making healthy lifestyle choices. “Writing songs is probably the thing that has saved my life,” says Pink in the clip. “Writing in a journal, writing poetry, reading other people’s stories, being inspired,” she continued, noting that she also exercises, eats healthy, and cooks. “Cooking is like a meditation,” she adds.
Now, when Pink feels like she’s “getting lost,” she knows what to do. “I light my incense and I take a bath and I breathe and I do my gratitudes,” she says. “I also have surrounded myself with a village of people that know when I’ve forgotten that I have a spiritual toolbox, they remind me.”
Following a healthy lifestyle and having a ‘spiritual toolbox’ like Pink’s may help, says Thea Gallagher, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Health, and co-host of the Mind in View podcast. But it’s crucial for people who experience panic attacks to be able to identify them and their causes, she says. “Sometimes there isn’t enough meditating in the world that’s going to make you feel better.”
That is why people should connect with a cognitive behavioural therapist if they find panic attacks are interfering with their life, she says. A therapist can help someone get used to the sensations they may experience during a panic attack, teach them to identify one when it’s happening, and allow them to become more comfortable with them.
“Sometimes once a panic attack has started, you can’t stop it and trying to stop it can make things worse,” she says. “I teach people to ride the wave. It won’t last forever. It’s uncomfortable but you’re not dying. You will see that you can tolerate it.”
Pink also used the video to encourage other people to figure out what helps them. “I will tell you…it does get better, and there are beautiful moments waiting for you,” she says. “There are beautiful people waiting to love you, and one of those people is yourself.”
This story first appeared on www.shape.com
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