Panic attacks. If you have ever had one, you know how paralyzing they can be. It’s a subject that is becoming more talked about, but has a huge stigma attached.
As a child, in my comfort zone I was peppy, loud, and yes I even harbored a spicy temper. Outside of my zone, I was quiet, worried, and just plain terrified. I wouldn’t say one particular event made me this way, I just was.
What I do remember, was my very first panic attack. I am one of those people who didn’t need an alarm clock. I would stay up late and be so worried I was going to be late, that I hardly slept. When I did get up, I always felt rushed.
I was old enough to fend for myself at this point and I don’t remember my parents hassling me to get ready. I have always been hard on myself and tried hard to please everyone I could. This one particular morning I was running unusually late. My heart was racing. I was dropping things left and right. I couldn’t find what I was looking for and it all just came to a head.
I sat on the floor and sobbed. I am not much of a crier, so when I do, it’s bad. I remember my Mom and Dad standing in my bedroom door asking what was wrong. “There’s never enough time!” I sobbed with every fiber of my being. When the waterfall of tears finally stopped, I looked up to see my Mom and Dad just looking so bewildered.
I can’t remember if they had me go to school or not. We never named it. At that time, I had no clue what it was. Looking back knowing what I know now, I see it as plain as daylight. It was fear enrobed in panic.
Growing up, I would say most people would describe me as bubbly, outgoing, and sweet. What they didn’t know was how much fear has driven my life. By the time I graduated high school, I would say my fear was masked with a giant wall of independence.
I normally have a few really close friends, but kept most others at a distance. It was hard to let anyone in, as when I did, I held nothing back. I love with my whole heart, and probably smother the ones I love. I can’t help it! I just love people!
I learned what “don’t throw your pearls to swine,” meant the hard way. It’s hard for those of us who wear our hearts on our sleeves. I have to remember, not everyone was made to be so transparent.
As life went on, I encountered mass devastation. We moved around a lot as a kid. I got sick a lot (now we know why) and it was lonely. 3 months after we got married, our apartment building caught on fire in the middle of the night and that seemed to set off a succession of full on panic attacks.
With life’s up and downs, these pain in my behinds rear their ugly heads when I least expect it. For me, I can be having one major catastrophe after another and I hold it together just fine. Oddly enough, it will be out of the blue when fear grips my heart and practically throws me to the floor. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get a breath in and I have to run for my life!
As a Christian woman, it’s been hard dealing with these suckers. I feel as though we are trained to believe that if this happens, we have let sin in our life. Sweet one, this world is a tough place. We have stressors pulling us in every direction, like never before. We are told we need to have it all, and make it look like we are keeping it perfectly together.
This is what I love about my faith. G-d accepts me just as I am. A broken, stressed out, mess. He doesn’t see me as faithless. Instead He knows my heart and how much I want to be everything I can. So when my pride takes control, He reminds me that I need more of Him, and less of me.
Do I think panic attacks are spiritual? Yes I do, but not in the way most would think. I don’t think G-d punishes me with them. What I do believe is that somewhere along the line, I believed a lie. Whether it is: I am not good enough. I need to do more. Everyone else can handle it, so I should. What’s going to happen? How am I going to make it through. I could go on and on…
So what does this basket case do when I am faced with panic? Here are 7 simple remedy’s I use.
- Get some praise music on ASAP! I will find one of my favorite Christin music stations and sing as loud as I can. It may sound crazy, but I have had some doozies where this has really helped. Where there is praise, G-d is there! David wrote many of the Psalms. They were meant to be sung and in alot of them you can tell he was having some pretty rough days.
- Find a prayer partner. Confide in a trustworthy friend who understands and deals with panic. I have found my best help being with my friend who has walked a similar path. I can be honest and know she will drop everything and just pray with me. When we don’t know how to pray, count on the Holy Spirit to help you through.
- Quote scripture. If you are prone to panic attacks, when you are feeling good, memorize scripture. The bible really has been my best counselor. I have found so many verses that speak to my situation and we are to always armor ourselves with the word of G-d. When our son was in the NICU, we were taught to memorize scripture to be ready for combat. Think of it as your sword to slice and dice those lies.
- Aromatherapy/Acupuncture Seriously, YES! I fought it too. Essential Oils have made a world of a difference for me. I have found them to help like medicine without the nasty side effects! I don’t know how or why, but they work. As for acupuncture, I was worried about the needles, but I have found them painless and very helpful. I do use acupuncture for other health issues and it has helped tremendously and again, no side effects!
- Exercise. Yes, I know you want to beat me with your flip flop. I hate it, but it is true. Exercise calms the body down. I am not a doctor, but I have found it wears down my nerves in a good way. Seriously, I have had to walk up and down the street at 2 in the morning while making my husband watch to make sure I didn’t spontaneously combust!
- Go limp/let time pass/breathe. Insert my least favorite word, patience. Patience is the key. If we have patience with ourselves and others, we can release the panic of the pace and just rest. Rest is something that is hard to come by in this day and age. We aren’t Wonder Woman, and were never meant to be.
- Talk to your doctor. If all else fails and you aren’t getting any relief, make sure you talk with your doctor or counselor. Sometimes seeing a counselor who is trained, can help you sort out overwhelming issues and help you come up with a plan of attack or find the root of the issue. G-d has given doctors wisdom to help us in this fallen world. This has nothing to do with being faithless. G-d is the author of life, and if medicine can improve your life, go for it. It doesn’t mean it’s forever. G-d uses science to help us. As long as we are still praying for wisdom, we can be thankful for the miracle of modern science.
I am writing this in the middle of a really difficult week. I have been feeling so overwhelmed with Autumn’s pounding pace. When I flip on the news, it’s hard not to be afraid of all that is or could be happening. However, we know that G-d created us for this very day. We can’t add one hour of our life by worrying about it. In fact, it is the very opposite. We need to give ourselves grace to be human. We need to give each other support in our community. Most of all, if we are living in fear, then we aren’t living life with the joy, peace, and hope that G-d wants for us.
Most of all I want you to know, you are NOT alone. Most of us want others to believe that we all have it together. Girlfriend, we are all a mess and that is why we need Jesus to pave the way to our sweet loving Father. Imagine a world where we all lay down our masks and accept ourselves where we are at this very moment. Peaceful, right? We will get through this, we will be able to assist others and let them know we too have walked a tumultuous path, and we will be stronger for it.
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