Panic attacks getting your hair cut

Anxiety at the hairdressers is such a common worry for people. It happens because people feel trapped having to sit in the chair while their hair is being done. No easy escape without having to make an awkward excuse right?  Stacy Fiorile writes a guest post on this topic for Panic Away below.

Just sitting. That is all. That is all you have to do. Is sit. And get your hair cut. You have been doing this since before you can remember. Only you know why, your hair has grown all funky. Maybe your grey is showing more and more.

You recently decided to invest in a good pair of scissors or clippers. Maybe you have purchased a box of do-it-yourself hair dye from Revlon or Clairol.  Or maybe, you just let it all grow out. Greys and all.

You would even save a few bucks. You played it off to everyone. After all, why did anyone need to know your secret? It is none of their business anyway, right?

Deep inside you knew, though. You knew. And, you also knew this was getting really bad. You may have thought you were losing your mind. You thought I must need medication, right?

You felt weak and embarrassed. However, you just could not stand the dizziness and racing heart just to get your haircut. The palpitations and feelings of being unattached to your own body were unbearable.

You think that everyone will notice. They will think that I am crazy. Maybe I am? In the chair, everything begins to close in on me. You check for the nearest exit. Voices muffle and the light and sounds are unbearable.

You think I have to get out of here. And there you go, out the door barely signing your credit card or excusing yourself to the bathroom. Maybe pretending your phone just buzzed, just to excuse yourself.

You rush back to your car or home. I am safe. I am now safe, you think. Now how will I get to the store to buy scissors? Then you think of that certain someone.

I will send ______ to the store. You fill in the blank. You know who runs your errands for you when you are just not feeling up to it. We all have that safe and trusted go to. Or maybe not.

If this resonates deep inside, this story was, written for you. There is a solution. And it is not a pill. This is the story of soulsurvivor.

“Everyone knows me as someone who the majority of the time has a cleaned lined up face and most don’t know the real reason I haven’t been to a barber in about 2 months.”

Soulsurvivor, by all accounts appears to be your average regular guy from New York. He enjoys writing, blogging. sports, movies, music, travel, gym, nature and driving. But, have a closer look and you will see a very courageous man.

No, he does not have merit badges or trophies to show for his bravery but he has a story. A story that will help inspire through his bravery and proven internal strength and resolve.

Back in the summer of 2012, soulsurvivor had been experiencing regular panic attacks but on this one particular day, he experienced the BIG one. Soulsurvivor was a trooper.

He did not let it stop him from going to the barber that day to get his haircut.  That day while sitting in the barber chair, overwhelming sensations took over his body.

He experienced sensations of choking. It felt like someone just took him off of a respirator. Heart palpitations and dizziness took over. You know the drill. He got up from the chair 8-10 times.

Thinking the barber must think I am on drugs or something. After an absolutely, horrifying experience he actually went back to the barber a few more times, each time, horrifying.

He did not understand what was happening to him. He was so embarrassed. He would make up excuses to walk outside. Telling the barber, he was just dehydrated and needed some water. Getting up mid-haircut.

All those customers staring. It was too much. He was so embarrassed that he did not go back to the barber for months.

He instead grew out his beard. He just could not do it. He had no idea what was wrong with him or what to do about it. He began to feel very sad and unsure of himself. Until one day, he stumbled upon Panic Away.

He was relieved to discover that he was not alone. After reading Panic Away, he discovered that it was common for people with anxiety and panic, to not be able to sit for a simple haircut. He was not crazy after all!

After reading Panic Away he also realized that he had found the solution to his panic attacks.

Not just how to cope and distract and all that, but how to put an end to his panic attacks.  He learned how to break the cycle of panic. He learned the 4-step technique called the 21. This changed his life. He was going to get his life back.

He took control and went back to the barber ready to stare fear directly, down.

While at the barber waiting for his turn calmly listening to Claire Weekes, “passing through anxiety” practicing acceptance, (step two of Barry’s 21 technique), he managed. Until suddenly, a jolt of adrenaline ran through his body when the screeching word “NEXT” echoed across the all of the sudden very dreadful barber shop.

A cold sweat broke-out.

His heart began beating faster and faster. He was overcome with light-headedness and dizzy sensations. Everything muted. And then it happened. “I recognized exactly what those sensations were, and I just said go ahead.

You can make me as uncomfortable all you want but that’s all you’re capable of.  I’m just gonna sit still and it’s all gonna be over soon.”

He recognized, accepted and demanded more all while trusting his body to handle the sensations. Once he demanded more, he turned the tables on anxiety. Before he knew it, he was instructing the barber how to cut his hair!

He left the barber feeling like a million bucks!  Soulsurviver explained that he felt like a million bucks not just because of the haircut “but because it was so symbolic for me. I’ve been walking around carrying my anxiety on my face for the past 3 months, and every time I face it, every time I dare it to do something to me, it proves powerless!”

The panic loop was broken. The fear of the fear vanished. Just like that. No pills. No magic. Just following this simple behavior changing system, which, flips off the fear switch. Yes, bravery must be to thank. Without soulsurvivors bravery the 21 technique would not work.

Another important point to make here is, while soulsurvivor avoided the barber for about 2-3 months before he ventured back for a haircut, many more people go years and years avoiding sitting in that chair.

It does not matter how long you have avoided getting your haircut or anything for that matter due to fear of having a panic attack. This 21 technique will work in any situation where panic exists regardless of how long you have had panic attacks. You too can flip that fear switch off and put an end to your panic attacks.

In summary, courage and the 21 is all you need to brave the barber. Kudos soulsurvivor! You are amazing! Thank you for sharing your story with the hopes of getting some overgrown beards trimmed, some greys colored and putting barbers back to work! Bravo!

This guest post was written by Stacy L. Fiorile, MA, CAGS, NJCSP, NCSP