Stopping Panic Attacks Can Come Much Quicker Than You Think

I know panic attacks are really, really, really miserable. One second of a panic attack can feel like an eternity and the hardest part of any recovery is the beginning when progress is measured in inches not miles. But regardless of how tough it is, it is very possible to recover from. You can overcome your panic attacks and agoraphobia, it just takes time and the right mental attitude, but a life free of panic is possible!

When I was in the worst of my period with panic, I was completely agoraphobic. Just stepping out of the house was nearly impossible, in fact at one point I had to be dragged out of my home kicking and screaming by my father and brother. In these early periods, just walking around the corner was a major achievement. Most people who haven’t gone through something similar take for granted the little things in life like being able to walk around outside in public alone, but someone whose overcome panic attacks knows that that's not something to be taken for granted.

Oddly at first, the more progress I made the sadder I felt. That's because in the beginning my progress was so marginal, just itty bitty baby steps, that I thought, at this rate I'll never be back to the normal life I once had! I became more and more depressed, struggling to do even the most mundane things. But I hung in there, and as I kept having more and more frequent panic attacks, after a certain point I did realize something. Sure, they were awful, I hated the feeling, but regardless of how bad they were, or how long they lasted, nothing ever really actually happened to me.

During this time I was a severe hypochondriac, terrified of having a heart attack (despite how incredibly unlikely that was). I've spent my fair amount of time in the ER, only to be told that it was indigestion from stress, or heart palpitations (all panic related of course), but not cardiac arrest. Sometimes I'd have to be picked up from a public place by a family member because I was hit with a particularly hard panic attack and couldn't make it home alone. So I know how miserable they are. But regardless off all these unpleasant experiences, one thing was always the same. The attack passed and nothing else really happened.

Once I really accepted the attacks for what they are, that's when things began to turn around for me. I knew that the moment I had an attack was awful, but if I just stuck it out I'd be fine. At first I took a few baby steps, walking around my neighborhood alone, maybe a block or two. Leaving my cell phone behind, etc. Some moments were terrifying, but the fear always faded once my mind accepted that everything was OK and moved on to focus on something else. And when it did, I found myself eager to push my boundaries further. Pretty soon I began liking those panic events, I stopped referring to them as panic attacks and recognized them for what they were; really intense adrenaline rushes that just happened to hit me at inopportune times.

It got to the point that I became a bit of an adrenaline junkie. Those closest to me were amazed by the transformation and none of them could ever have imaginedAS what was to come next. I, a former agoraphobe, one day just packed my bags, and alone, got on a plane and headed for Spain. Didn't know anyone there, didn't have a job or a permanent place to stay lined up, I just needed to go. I'd done just about everything I could back home in NYC, I'd taken the subway, gone back out to bars and clubs, had developed into a pretty normal life. But I knew that I wouldn't be completely cured till I put myself in a situation in which there was no return. Far from all those that I knew and could depend on, just entirely free.

I'm not going to tell the whole story of my time in Barcelona, because it's long and I've written other posts on that topic. What I will say is that a stay that was supposed to be short, turned into a 4 year adventure throughout the Mediterranean. I experienced so much that I never dreamed possible a few years earlier. Sure, sometime I was hit with a bit of nervous energy, but I knew that I'd overcome so much before that, that this was nothing more than a little hiccup along the way. And you know what? That's exactly what it always turned out to be.

So you see, a life free of panic is possible. If you're still in the beginning of your recovery period, at least you can take some comfort in knowing that it can only get better from this point. Those frustrating baby steps that you're taking today are just laying the groundwork for the leaps and miles you'll be running tomorrow, so hang in there. It only gets better.

I hope that little bit of info helps. I also have a blog that I keep to chronicle how I overcame my panic attacks and agoraphobia in case anyone one would like to check it out. Not sure if I can post links on this forum but it’s (Live-Panic-Free) followed by “Dot” and the usual 3 characters you find at the end of a site.
Lifeafterpanic566 Lifeafterpanic566
31-35, M
Jan 12, 2013