Networking to a Better You

Response – When Panic Attacks

This week, I’m going to do things a little differently. I’ve provided a quick video above, but the bulk of my response is in blog form below.

Today, my response is to a friend of mine who stepped up and spoke out regarding depression and anxiety in her blog post When Panic Attacks. She bravely shared her experience with GAD (generalized anxiety disorder). She explained that she started experiencing panic attacks after getting severe headaches and feeling vertigo, then finding a related cyst in her brain. She was not getting the treatment that she wanted and received very little explanation. This triggered her first major anxiety attack.

Besides worries about her own brain, she had other strenuous circumstances in her life that pushed her to this emotional state. She lost sleep and became overwhelmed with thoughts that she knew didn’t make sense. She talked about how she sought professional help and turned to God to get through this trial. Her journey led her to understand and appreciate Christ as her savior on a much deeper level.

In the end, she says, “For over 8 years I have wanted to blog about this and have started and erased many different posts. The fear of being vulnerable, not wanting others to see my flaws.”

To you, my friend, I say, “I know exactly what you mean.” It is scary to open up, to roll over and expose your underbelly of weakness. And I also say, “Congratulations! You did something that you felt you needed to do. Fear is such a common and powerful barrier in life. I’m proud of you. And, Thank-you for sharing your story with us.”

If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my life and as a mentor it is that most people are silently suffering.

One of the people that I’m mentoring right now lost her baby girl to cancer. The strain of that loss and other issues caused her to lose her husband, to divorce, as well. With her world so torn apart, she fell into a cycle of depression and anxiety. She has suffered fatigue, insomnia, and a variety of disorders that relate directly back to the trauma that she’d experienced. Panic attacks became common and she sought counseling. With the help of loving friends and family, a support dog, and medication, she had learned to cope with the awful pain that she carried.

I began working with her almost two months ago. At that time, I could tell that she didn’t have a positive self-worth. She couldn’t even get herself to say the words, “I’m pretty.” Her personal value was significantly depleted. I knew that I needed to turn that around in order for her to be successful with my program. I also saw that she was a fighter. She knew that she was worth more than she believed and she wanted to believe, it was just too painful at the time.

I began working with her and teaching her techniques that I had learned and created to pull myself out of my own funk. We worked on retraining her brain and infusing positive language into her daily speech. I knew that if I could find one thing that had the power to change her personal paradigms, it would have a domino effect on the rest of her life and she would be able to put to use the other tools that I had to help her spiral upward. A few weeks ago, we had our first face-to-face. During this time, I continued to listen and offer feedback. And when the time was right, I took her through a breakthrough exercise.

From that experience her countenance changed. Friends and family began noticing. But what was more important was what was happening on the inside. She feels stronger, has energy, and is finally getting some sleep. She is confident in her choices and able to recognize her little, daily trials for what they are, instead of something with the power to destroy her world. And I’m excited every day to see how she is able to overcome obstacle after obstacle as she takes leaps and bounds toward healing and a happier, better life.

Everyone’s experience is different. Depression and anxiety affect us all differently and we all have varying levels of success. I never lost a baby or felt the fear of something unwanted inside my head. But I did suffer with depression and anxiety for years and didn’t even know it. At best, they left me irritable, and my anxiety worsened every time I snapped at someone or was unable to respond well to others. For a long time, I thought that I had a disability and tried to find the title to describe my condition. I felt socially awkward and didn’t feel like I could relate to most people. And I couldn’t figure out where I actually belonged.

At my worst moments, I found myself immobile. I would occasionally lay in bed with literally no strength to lift my arm. I’ve had attacks that were so wrenching that I found myself clawing at the ground just to connect with something real. But most of the time I was just disconnected and quiet. Most of the time I carried a smile on my face, and no one knew what was going on inside me because I buried my emotions and locked them away.

A couple years ago I had reached an all-time low. I had accomplished something huge. I wrote and published a book. And that accomplishment brought out all of my insecurities in a big way. My marriage was already strained and I found myself sabotaging our relationship. I was outwardly trying to hold things together while on the inside I was either falling apart or separating myself further from reality. I harbored anger, embarrassment and fear and I began projecting it out at the world. I blamed others for my feelings of insecurity.

That’s when I found the first tool that saved me: Journaling. I learned that expression is one of the most important and powerful methods for overcoming any problem. You have to express it to identify it. And you have to identify it to overcome it.

Since then, I’ve picked up a whole toolbox full of things I can do to manage my happiness. I’ve studied the brain and its connection with the body. I’m continually learning and improving myself. And I’ve found great satisfaction in helping others break free and follow their passions.

If you or a loved one is experiencing depression or anxiety, please know that you are not alone. Everyone has been affected by these emotional disorders at some point in their lives. There are forces in this world (seen and unseen) which are fighting for your misery and it is easy to give in to the negative voices. Emotion is the most powerful tool in all the universe. He who controls emotion controls the world. Depression and anxiety are real but there is a way out. You don’t have to feel that way anymore. Know that we are many. And UNITED, WE ARE STRONG!


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