What Helped You?

Hi everyone,

I have been a member of ICU steps for a little while. Nearly five years ago I spent 10 days in ICU, one month in the hospital, and lost the use of my lower left leg all due to severe sepsis. I was also diagnosed with PTSD from the ICU. Even now, although not as frequently, I'll have a panic attack or flashback.

What helps...

I write in a journal, draw, build with Lego, talk to a therapist, to stop a panic attack I keep a little paper with me that says, "It's okay, just breathe slowly. " To stop flashbacks I hold my sleeve up to my nose and smell it for 10 seconds (it brings my mind back to the present).

I am always looking to add things.

What helped and continues to help you?

15 Replies

  • Hi Hun my panic attacks happen frequently during the day and night. I am so glad I found everyone here. I remember telling my doctor how I was feeling ,the sweating the heart pounding and problem breathing! She said you are going through the menopause! I know now it wasn't! I find music helps me with my panic attacks! At night I have my phone under my pillow and if I have one I turn my music on! Having my collie around helps calm me down x

  • Hi Colliedogs4me,

    What a great idea keeping your phone with music close by at night! I am so happy found out what was really going on with you.

  • I still find myself screaming out loud because of some image stuck in my brain but this is more from my stupid brain not working correctly now. I find screaming helps!!!

    However on a more serious note, I have started having regular massages as have my husband, mum and dad (I'm 38), and this helps immensely!! I've also had reflexology which was bloody painful as my kidneys stopped working but I'm a big believer in the benefits of massages and relaxation techniques.

    I have a diffuser which mists a blend of oils into my bedroom which helps me sleep and I cuddle a pillow to keep my chest open.

    Do whatever works for you. I also keep a blog but am having a little breather because my friend died on Wednesday. If anyone wants to read it, copy and paste into browser


    All the best,

    Debs xx

  • Hi BBDEBS,

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have been reading your blog. You are a good writer! I am going to try using a diffuser at night.

  • Hugs

  • Hi Twash,

    It's just over 5 years for me and I know I'm incredibly lucky to have survived spending 3 months in ICU, unfortunately ARDS and severe sepsis ended my working life at 52yrs old, which left me having to sell the carpentry & joinery business I had built up over 20yrs, this led to my darkest days,determined to avoid antidepressants I had to look for an alternative, fortunately I live next to a countryside park where I could take a gentle stroll with my German Shorthaired Pointer dog and rekindled my love of photography, the peace, tranquility and exercise gave me time to think and put everything into perspective, I also became involved in a local support group that later became part of ICUsteps and lead to me becoming a trustee of ICUsteps in 2013, giving me the opportunity to meet some great inspirational people and help others in recovery from their traumatic ICU experience.

    We will never forget how close we came to not being here but with help and understanding life can be good again.

    Best wishes to all my fellow survivors in our unique club that no one out of choice would want to join.


  • thanks for your warm comment Bill, very moving

  • Hi Luckyone,

    Before I became ill, I rarely took time to look around me or take a stroll. I find that now, walking and looking a nature and the world is essential. I am so thankful you became involved in ICUsteps. This site is such a godsend.

  • Twash - it sounds like you are doing plenty of things to help you deal with flashbacks and panic attacks, well done. Fortunately, I've never suffered really badly from these things, though I do get very emotional - sometimes about quite 'trivial' things - from time to time.

    It's five years for me too: I spent a month in ICU, after 48 hours in A & E, where the medics couldn't decide what was wrong (it was in an English hospital, over a weekend: the department was short staffed and like a war zone, scary) Eventually they diagnosed a Boerhaave spontaneous oesophageal rupture.

    I was in a great deal of pain, and in shock, as it all happened so suddenly. Unfortunately I had a twisted bowel and upper gastric bleeding three months later, so needed further surgery.

    People tell me I have recovered very well, but I'm not sure myself. I felt able to have some counselling last year, 8 sessions, which helped me try to put things into perspective and 'process'/ digest the whole thing. It was useful to talk to a stranger, as I still feel that very few of my friends (all nice and kind people) have any real understanding of ICU, such is the extreme nature of the experience.

    Some of the things that help are common to us ICU survivors, some unique: I am a fan of the TV programme '24 hours in A + E' !! for some reason, it has significance for me.

  • Hi Munci,

    Here in the states there was a program - 'Life in the ER' (emergency room) - that I watch. The show helps to explain somethings for my. Funny how we could have that in common. Thank you!

  • and thank you Twash xx

  • I paint water colour pictures to relax.

  • I was in ICU for 4 weeks , 6 years ago after complications following an esophagectomy for cancer. I don't often get flashbacks anymore, but I'm ashamed to say I do sometimes feel sorry for myself, for the pathetic, useless old thing I've become.

    What helps me is colour. I make brightly coloured exotic patchwork quilts. I sew when I'm having a good day, and when I'm having a bad day I just spread out the pieces of fabric and plan what I'll do next time I have a good day!

    And knitting helps too. There are some fabulous colours in knitting yarns, Pink and orange and purple and red, if I put them together in the right way they come alive and make me happy.

  • Hi Patchworker,

    Anyone who has the patience and skill to make exotic patchwork quilts can't possible be a "useless old thing." Bringing beauty into the world, in any form is a gift.

  • Thank you Twash

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