Hi everyone, this is not my usual topic, but I have a long experience with anxiety and panic attacks and thought I would share some thoughts and ideas that helped me during my darkest times.
It takes courage to look at oneself. It seems easier to avoid or run from anything that brings on the symptoms of fear – the racing heart, sweats, unease in the stomach, that sense of disorientation or disconnectedness with the world. We soon become vulnerable. We don’t want to feel those symptoms again. We talk ourselves into thinking it’s a heart attack about to happen. But to conquer fear is to recognise it, face it, acknowledge it, and most importantly keep moving through it. Don’t run. Look at it. Acknowledge what it is. A panic attack. An attack of anxiety. A sudden change in my breathing pattern – too shallow, too high in the chest. Then think of it as a wave. Stand still or sit and feel it rise. Stay with it. Ride it out. The moment you think you can’t bear it anymore is when you dig in, but not tensely. Imagine you’re floating on top of that wave, or on a cloud, or lying on a lush green field, noticing things around you, like flowers in your garden, clouds moving across the sky, the painting on the wall, walking on a beach. Notice things in details, like with the painting, count the colours. Do whatever you can to keep still, keep riding the wave because your reward is coming. In the next instant the high anxious sensations will fall away and you will have conquered it.
By doing this repeatedly it will become easier as you build your confidence conquering the wave. You learn that an anxiety attack cannot hurt you. It has no more power over you.
Stare fear in the face, and you will grow stronger while the symptoms of fear weaker.
It is your right to live a life without fear, a life that you choose, that you rule, that you steer in the directions that please you and not by force. Never force.
Some recommended reading: anything on the subject by the late Dr Clare Weeks, an Australian specialist in this field. Another is: In Stillness Conquer Fear by Pauline McKinnon. This is Pauline’s personal journey through crippling anxiety and panic attacks. This book is one of the better ones, with a good chapter on meditation.