Throughout this cycle of anxiety I have developed a new way to perceive my panic attacks. I think that it could really help you to gain some control in the battle against anxiety.
I don’t suffer from them every day. My daily symptoms are intrusive thoughts that make my heart race and vision changes such as derealization. My milder anxiety will grab hold of a situation that I am scared of and will make me focus on the fear of having a panic attack while it happens. An example of this is my fear of flying. I obsess over the flight, making up worst case scenarios such as my heart racing the whole time we are traveling and not being able to get up from my seat and walk away from the stressors.
I experience a full on panic attack when I face that fear, such as in the beginning of the flight or the morning of the flight. All of my anxiety and milder anxiety attacks build up in my body and the release happens with panic, fear of dying, trembling, visual changes, rapid heart rate, and while I’m pregnant… vomiting.
Usually after I experience an attack I notice that it makes me feel better. What I’m referring to is that my fears have built up so high that they are finally realized and dealt with by this breakdown. The only real reason it feels cathartic is because the fears I am facing now aren’t things that I face every day. I don’t fly often, I don’t go into labor everyday, etc. So if you are scared of leaving the house, driving, and so on, you may have to experience full on panic attacks everyday as you face those fears.
I firmly believe that healing and gaining ground with anxiety involves directly dealing with what you are scared of.
A few things that I have grown to realize:
- Don’t fight the fear, embrace it. When you feel anxiety coming on just breathe, smile, welcome it for what it is – your body is trying to protect you from a “threat.” Be thankful that it exists because it is meant to protect you.
- If you are about to have an attack, remind yourself that your fear isn’t stronger than you because it is in you -it is only a part of you.
- The attack isn’t going to kill you. What you are feeling is panic, dread, fear of dying but physically it can’t do ANYTHING to you.
- It can’t last and it won’t last.
- The worst part of feeling all of panics symptoms is feeling them! After they have left you, you are free of them. Yes I know it could always come back, but you have felt them and you have overcome with only your mentality dealt with a blow.
Feel the fear and do it anyways – I don’t know who said this but it’s so important to remember. True growth happens when fear is faced head on. Even if you do have a panic attack while facing your fears, it doesn’t mean that you are weak or that you failed, and odds are that it will happen until you retrain your body to learn that it isn’t actually dangerous.
A few more tips:
- When you have an anxious thought, pray, speak positive thoughts over it, recognize the thought for what it is. It’s coming from fear. When I have my anxious thoughts I feel defeated already. A few things I have told myself lately: “My labor is going to be a disaster because I’m going to have a panic attack, I’m going to be in so much pain, there is no way I can do this” “I can’t leave the house by myself because something bad may happen” “How will I be able to handle two kids when I can’t even overcome my anxiety.” What I should be telling myself is the truth: “I can handle anything with God’s help” “My labor will be beautiful and when it is all over I will be meeting my daughter” “I can leave the house because I am strong and capable” “I will have two blessings to take care of and I could not be more excited to be their mother.”
- Talk to someone.
- Listen to calming music. I have noticed that nearly every Christian song I listen to talks about overcoming a struggle with Christ. The lyrics always lift me up and strengthen me, reminding me that my God has already sent His Son to face my darkest sin, my most terrifying or heartbreaking struggle.
- Write a list of reasons to be thankful. Suffering from a mental illness is very draining and can be depressing. Why are you thankful that you have anxiety? What, in general, have you been blessed with? For example, I am thankful because this experience is teaching me to trust in God alone for help. I have tried to handle it on my own, I have tried to trust in my husband to get me through, but the healing I have been given has been from God.
A few verses I love:
‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ‘ Philippians 4:6-7
‘In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.’ Psalm 4:8
‘“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord , whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” ‘ Jeremiah 17:7-8
There is no fear that we could face that Jesus didn’t feel when he died upon the cross.