This is the post I’ve been waiting to write – I’ve waited months to write this. Months spent praying, crying, in counseling, and taking medication. This is the blog post I’ve been dying to tell you about: how I didn’t have a panic attack.
I can’t talk about panic attacks without sharing my personal experience with them. For years now I’ve been writing about this paralyzing thing I live with called panic attacks. They started out of nowhere 10 years ago, and I’ve struggled to keep them at bay ever since. With counseling, prayer, and encouragement from friends and family, I’m finally able to write to you about my experience NOT having a panic attack.
For a long time, I’ve not been able to take trips in the car for any extended distance without having a panic attack. Being on interstate would trigger me, finding myself stuck in traffic would trigger me; even thinking about being on interstate or in traffic would trigger a panic attack.
A couple months ago, my husband and I got an email saying that he was being awarded this prestigious award, that the ceremony was set for a date in November, and that the location was about an hour away.
IMMEDIATELY, I started panicking.
How was I going to get there? What if there was traffic in the tunnel? What if I got stuck in the tunnel? What if being stuck in the tunnel gave me diarrhea? What if I had diarrhea IN the car WHILE I was stuck in traffic in the tunnel?? The fears themselves were crippling. I found myself back in the same downward spiral I always got caught in.
I recently started attending a Celebrate Recovery based bible study where we’ve been addressing things that have held us back in life, and what causes them. As I cried with my group over this fear that I’ve let debilitate my life to the point of throwing away big aspirations I’ve had for years, I vowed to my group that I was going to pray for these chains to break.
I was fed up. I was done letting fear dictate my dreams…and what better time to start than with this trip coming up.
I cried out to God to help me through this, to show himself to me in a way that I’ve not been able to see before.
A day or so before my trip, I felt led to contact a friend of mine who struggles with similar anxieties. Her honesty about herself and her fears gave me comfort in knowing that I wasn’t crazy (or at least not the ONLY crazy one), and that it was possible to face my fears – with the right tools.
The best piece of advice I took from our conversation was this: our brains take our fears and RUN with it. They go crazy. And what fights crazy better than…CRAZY. She encouraged me to call out my anxiety – by name!
So, I did. I gave my anxiety a name, and I talked to her in my head. I made fun of her, I called her a wimp, and a loser, and I told her she wasn’t invited on this trip because I didn’t want her to ruin it.
Any time I felt fear creeping in I started to yell at her again. “Get out of here!” I would tell her, “You aren’t allowed to be here right now. You ruin EVERYTHING.”
And you know what? She ran crying to the other room! I used my essential oils, and I praised God in worship the whole trip, and She was no where to be found.
Can you believe it??
For those of you reading this post in the midst of crippling anxiety, or even anxiety that confuses you and leaves you wondering what the heck just happened, I’m here today to really encourage you and say: LOOK! There is healing! There is hope!
I know I will feel anxiety again, but for this one weekend – a weekend that really counted – I succeeded!
Join me in celebrating this hope that is here for ALL of us!