by Claudia McNeely
I suffered from agoraphobia and panic attacks for many years. I was unable to drive, standing in line at stores was usually more than I could take, eating out was a horror because I was afraid of choking, and eventually I could not even go to my mailbox.
With no warning, my heart would start racing; my hands would feel as if they did not belong to me, I would feel like I had risen up above my body, I would be terrified.
Agoraphobia and Panic Attacks seem to build on themselves. First I had anxiety attacks when driving, then just getting into a car, then I had to stop driving all together, then I couldn't stand in line at the grocery store, until years later, I was almost totally homebound. The anxiety feeds on itself. The more anxious you get, the more you panic, which makes you more anxious, which makes you panic more, and on and on.
Anxiety, Panic Disorders and Agoraphobia can be cured. I want you to understand that before we go any further. You can take control of your panic attacks. You can take control of your life again.
It is not an easy path to recovery. I spent many years programming the fear into my consciousness. Changing this programming takes time and effort. But if you stick with it, your life will change forever.
The first thing to learn is that a panic attack is not going to kill you. I know this is a hard concept to get when you are in the middle of an attack, but this is a very important step to healing. You will not die from a panic attack. If you can make yourself remember this when you have a panic attack, it will help.
Let's start with a little exercise. What is the worst thing that can happen when you have a panic attack? Write your answers down. Just understanding that it can't kill you, empowers you and gives you control over the panic attack.
The next time you have a panic attack, pay close attention to what you are feeling. Truly experience each and every emotion and sensation. And remember to BREATHE through the attack. When we become stressed, we have a tendency to stop breathing or take very shallow breaths. This makes the attack worse. So, remember to breathe deeply and slowly at all times.
Let's assume you are experiencing a panic attack. Your heart begins to pound, so you remember to breathe slowly as you focus on each beat of your heart. Count them if you want. Pay attention to your heart and what it is doing. Next you become light headed and feel as if you are not in your body. Again, remember to breathe and notice what this feels like and the emotions it brings for you. After a bit, you notice the symptoms stopping and all the sensations and emotions that go with that. You feel relieved that you have survived another attack. By paying such close attention to your panic attacks, you take some of the power away from them.
Another helpful exercise is to do affirmations. Always start your affirmations with I am.' In the Bible, God's name is given as I Am'. By starting ...