Will I Have To Deal With Panic Attacks The Rest Of My LifeWill I Have To Deal With Panic Attacks The Rest of My Life
Chronic, overly intense panic attacks are probably the worst thing I've ever had to go through in my lifetime and I'm really hoping that that period is the worst I go through ever. You feel so helpless and it seems like there's no point to living when panic attacks and agoraphobia set in, but don't lose hope! It takes time and effort, but a period of panic attacks doesn't have to ruin your entire life. There is hope at the end of the tunnel and one day you can be panic and agoraphobia free!
I started having occasional panic attacks in my early 20s, but very quickly, these occasional minor nuisances became a chronic and life altering condition. Before I knew it, I was having them all the time and anywhere. As I became more and more scared of the world around me I ended up shuttering myself away from it and before long, I was truly agoraphobic. I was able to eventually leave my house, but every single action in my life was a struggle. Taking public transportation was a particularly gruesome nightmare and I lived in NYC, so you can imagine how much time out of my day I spent on a bus or train. My progress was painfully slow, I just remember feeling so hopeless! I honestly thought that at the rate I was making progress, that I'd never be free.
After the first couple of months of living with this condition, the heavy depression set in. It's so miserable to see how everyone else in the world can just casually go about their day and for me even taking a walk to the corner store was met with the fear of a life or death situation. I had to rearrange my life entirely to suit my new condition. Always had a cell phone on me, I would never dream of leaving it behind. Just the thought of being caught without it was enough to set me off. Always had to rationalize everything with myself. If I took public transport, I had to remind myself continuously that I'd be OK, that millions do this every day, that if something happened to me that help would be on its way. Nonsense stuff, but I had to go through it for nearly everything I did. What's worse is that I genuinely believed that the rest of my life would be this way. That from there on out, everything I ever did would be guided by my fear and what I could do to avoid it. And that's when the depression would take its toll.
Fortunately however, there is hope. Eventually, you just have to get fed up enough that you face your fear. For me, depression was actually quite useful. I never got to the point of being suicidal, but on my really dark days, I did question the point of living like this. I would actually ask myself was life really worth it if all I ever did was suffer? After pondering that for a while, I came to the conclusion that I really would rather be dead than live the rest of my life like this, but since I wasn't quite ready to bite the big one just yet, I took the other option. I did what I wanted to do, and if I died or something awful happened to me, well F*** it, it would still be better than my usual day of worry and depression.
My first few attempts at normalcy were met with what you might expect: earth shatteringly bad panic attacks. Some of the most hellish experiences I could ever imagine. But slowly, my mind got adjust to every situation that I put myself in. Just like my mind got accustomed to being safe in my house, it soon learned that there was nothing to be afraid of in other places either. When taking public transport, one of my most difficult tasks, I stopped fighting the fear. Rather than look at my watch minute after minute, hoping the time would fly by faster, doing all I could to distract myself, I just sat there and embraced the moment. I had done this before I told myself (taken the bus), millions of times in fact and nothing happened to me in the past, so why would it happen now? Taking this attitude of embracing rather than fighting my panic was amazing, in every situation, rather than intensify, the panic, made it slowly subside. Bit by bit, I began feeling more comfortable in my different surroundings, it was like my brain had just accepted that there was nothing to fear so it may as well chill out. But what was even cooler, was that the more that it chilled out, the more my brain was open to other experiences. Almost as if my sub-conscience had recognized, that if it was wrong about other fears in the past, maybe it's wrong about this next one, and went into it with an open mind. My progress went from inch by inch to foot by foot and very quickly to mile by mile! I soon began to love my panic attacks which I later called adrenaline rushed to make them sound more pleasant. The more I liked them, the quicker they faded and the farther I had to push myself to get that same old sensation, that is till eventually they were just all gone.
Now, I'm completely free of panic attacks, have been so for years, and have become a bit of a world traveler and an occasional adrenaline junkie. The life experiences that I've had in the last few years would have seemed completely impossible a decade ago. Like just a fantasy, one that if I thought about for too long, could have produced a panic attack all by itself. So you see, you don't have to have your life hindered by panic attacks for ever, or for another year or even another day. It takes time to overcome panic, but the first steps can be taken today, so hang in there, think positively, focus on where you want to be and not where you don't want to be and with some time and practice, you too can overcome panic and agoraphobia!
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.