ANXIETY AND PANIC ATTACKS can also feel like : total & random FEAR at any time of the day or night, a feeling like you want to just suddenly RUN AWAY as fast as you can from wherever you may be, a TRAPPED feeling – and another moment you feel like you need to just FLEE fast, dizziness, shortness of breath (or like you can’t take a deep breath) and feeling like you’re going to faint, a sudden RUSH of ADRENALINE from your toes to your head causing you to feel HOT and FLUSHED suddenly – which may also make you want to RUN, random feelings in your body because – WHAT IS THAT?!?! and AM I DYING!??!!? and NOW I’M SCARED FOR NO REASON I CAN THINK OF BUT I’M STILL SO FUCKING TERRIFIED I FEEL LIKE I JUST NEED TO RUN AWAY AS FAST AS I CAN.
When I first started having anxiety and panic attacks back in my twenties, there were literally no answers for it – OR no one cold GIVE me any answers -may be a better way of putting it. I didn’t know what it was. No one was talking about it. I was going to every doctor getting every test I could think of, trying alternative medicine, acupuncture, reading books, eliminating foods, getting outside more, walking more… literally doing anything I thought would help alleviate these feelings and nothing seemed to work.
I didn’t even know then that what I was experiencing was anxiety and/or panic attacks because I didn’t know what those two things were AND if I had had any thought about them, I assumed they were mental disorders that would only affect a person’s mind, like depression (or so I thought, then) – and NOT something that would take over a person’s entire body in the ways my anxiety had. I just knew I was suddenly scared all the time and in a state of fear and panic and confusion that affected my mind and my body so intensely that I didn’t want to leave the house.
Of course, I told anyone who would listen what was going on because I wanted answers and surprisingly, the reaction I received from those closest to me was mostly of bafflement – as if they had never heard of such things. People actually looked at me like I was crazy. And I began actually feeling crazy.
My boyfriend at the time told me it was all in my head and that I was just looking for attention.
And when he would say that, I would become LIVID, because anyone who has ever dealt with anxiety or the crippling fear that takes over your entire being when you’re in the middle of a panic attack AND THEN AFRAID of what your body is doing and then AFRAID of having another panic attack… WOULD DO ANYTHING TO NEVER EVER EVERRRRRRR EXPERIENCE IT AGAIN. If I was simply looking for attention, I would have stripped all my clothes off and run down the street naked every day of my life… I swear it would have been FAR easier than dealing with the years of anxiety I had endured.
But years later I finally realized he was right. It WAS all in my head… just not in the dismissive way he so blatantly put it…
Because when he told me it was “all in my head” it felt as if it didn’t exist. Like I was crazy. And like I should just knock it off and be normal again. But it did “exist”. It was real. And I hadn’t made it up.
Yes, my mind was the culprit but I had no way to pinpoint what things were making my mind suddenly go into a panic or any way to keep my mind from going into a panic and then no way to keep it from affecting my body and my physical health.
So I dealt with it. For years I just dealt with it… spending time and money on books and therapists trying to figure out how to “fix” myself because I knew there was a time when I didn’t have anxiety or fear of having a panic attack and when I could go out in public without worrying about anything at all… and I just desperately wanted to get back to that feeling of being free.
If I had the technique Mel Robbins explains below in the quick video If You Struggle With Anxiety, This Mind Trick Will Change Your Life, I would have been able to literally talk myself out of a panic attack as soon as it began.
If you struggle with anxiety and panic, then practicing this quick trick below ( not just once, but EVERY TIME you start to feel anxious – REALLY. EVERY. TIME ) then you may be closer to eliminating it from your life very quickly.
I honestly wish I had access to this information way back when I was 24 years old (18 years ago – WOW ) because it would have saved me YEARS of worry, fear, anxiety, panic, stomach and health problems, etc.
There were certain techniques and mind tricks I came up with on my own over the years to help me function with my anxiety and panic and that diminished it on some levels. First I told myself that anxiety was just FEAR. So that when I would start feeling any of those panicky symptoms, I would stop whatever I was doing and tell myself reassuringly, THIS IS JUST ANXIETY – IT’S OKAY – YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE AFRAID.
This actually helped me profoundly… and I would just say it over and over again until it pulled me out of the fear moments and into the present moment. This I now know is referred to as an ANCHOR THOUGHT (well, kind of) thanks to Mel (and is most probably associated with Cognitive Anchoring).
Soon after I turned 38, and after 15 years of dealing with it, I finally was able to eliminate anxiety and panic attacks from my life with the practice of daily meditation. I’ve talked about it a million times here because I swear – EVEN THOUGH it didn’t work overnight and EVEN THOUGH I didn’t start meditating to cure myself of anxiety – that’s exactly what it did.
I felt a difference after mediating daily for 2 months, then more changes at 4 months of daily mediation, then by 6 months of meditation, the anxiety that had become part of my normal behavior and identity was gone.
Yes. GONE. One day, it was just gone… but it was the daily practice of mediation that helped changed my habits and get my mind clear in a way I never knew possible. I finally felt free again. And though it didn’t happen overnight, it sure felt like it did.
I realized then that taking the time to work on my mental health each day was just as important as taking the time to work on my physical health each day. If I could prioritize spending an hour to walk or hike each day to make my BODY healthy, I could easily spend twenty minutes meditating to make my MIND healthy.
But as free as I am now, I still have bad days every so often. I still have mornings when I wake up and feel that little nagging inside of me that’s somehow saying YOU SHOULD BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID. I still have to use daily affirmations and talk myself off the anxiety ledge every now and again, but it’s okay because it’s not the “norm” anymore and now I have the tools to combat it as soon as it strikes. As soon as I feel even ONE symptom, I’m on it. I know now that it takes work to keep my mind in check, and as long as I’m aware of it, I can combat it.
Today people talk about their anxiety and panic (and other mental dis-ease) pretty openly, which is fantastic, because I felt like I was so alone and so embarrassed and ashamed of what was going on inside of me for so long, all the while smiling on the outside… I felt like a fraud and like there was something wrong with me, and that’s no way to live.
There are so many more options available and coping tools and behaviors to practice and learn that help on so many levels, I hope that if you’re struggling with anything that sounds similar to any of this, that you too will work hard to find freedom from it.
It’s debilitating in so many ways unless you’re able to function within its parameters… but finding the path out of it and living a life that you love, is what you deserve.
Seek help, talk about it until you’re blue in the face, search for answers until you’ve found the one that works, try everything you can because life is too precious to miss all the magic while locked in your own mind. Believe me. I know.
* Please note that I am not suggesting anyone should come off their meds if that’s whats working for them. I’m only suggesting alternative methods for those who are looking for alternatives as well as sharing my story and offering the mind tricks that work for me 🙂