Facing Panic Attacks & Getting to the Other Side

facing panic attacksI shared with you last week about my personal plight with public speaking and how I developed a phobia to speaking at really good Al-Anon meeting. The panic attacks got so bad I got severely discouraged and angry and quit the meeting.

Facing panic attacks and getting to the other side of that scary place is what we will discuss today.

By the way I should share that I need Al-Anon very much in my life. It is a 12 step program for families and friends of Alcoholics. Even though my husband has not had a drink in over 10 years, he still has many of the isms (behaviors) that come with addiction: severe mood swings of depression and mania, overspending, road rage, covert and overt anger taken out on me and the kids, etc, etc. I’ve been going to Al-Anon for over 10 years and it has enriched my life immeasurably. (to learn more about Al-Anon, visit: http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/).

So my plan last week was to go back to this wonderful Al-Anon meeting because it has helped ME learn to deal better in my life.

All weekend the prospect of attending this meeting was weighing heavily in the back of my mind. I honestly doubted if I would be able to go.

I didn’t sleep well last night, and I woke up with a tension headache.  Hmm, I wonder why, lol? I went over my last post to remind myself of my plan of action. (Because when I’m super anxious, I can’t think straight).

I listened to my Stop Panic Attacks hypnosis mp3 two times. It did make me feel better the second time I listened to it. The first time I was so nervous, I couldn’t even pay attention to it.

I went over my my Panic Away program, and the 21-7 Technique. And I re-read Peace from Nervous Suffering, pp. 157- 166. This part of the book where Dr. Weekes takes me by the hand and walks me through the panic attack inducting situation and tells me what to do. I even found an acupressure exercise that I could do if I got anxious during the meeting (it helped, try it 🙂 ):

(By the way I did all this stuff while I was working. Can anxious people multi task or what?)

I admit, even after I did all this preparation, I still had a strong urge not to go to the meeting. The memories of facing panic attacks and being tongue tied, and my last 2 attempts at going to the meeting, where I was utterly overwhelmed with panic and left in the middle of the meeting, still had me freaked out.

One half hour before I left, my friend who also goes to that meeting happened to call me about something unrelated. I was able to tell her how I was feeling. She does not suffer from panic attacks, but she was super kind and said, “You’ll be fine. Just sit there and pass if you don’t want to talk, it’s no big deal.”

The thing that made me go was the knowledge that if I didn’t at least try, I would be so down on myself. Not to mention the fact that trying to go next week would be even harder. I know my anxiety habit builds on itself, so when I get into a pattern of avoiding something, it gets easier and easier to stay away. And this is how anxiety wins and I lose every single time.

As I said recently, I pretty much gave up my youth to being ruled by anxiety and panic attacks, and I refuse to live this way any longer.

So I forced myself to go.

Friends, I have to tell you, it was a joy. Not only was I able to just sit there, I was able to share a small bit, help a newcomer, and get this- before the close of the meeting I said this:

“I need to let you all know why I am so grateful for being here this morning. I’ve been dealing with anxiety for years, and have had multiple severe anxiety attacks at this meeting. I stopped coming for awhile. But I have to recognize that Al-Anon and all you people in it are such a tremendous blessing in my life. Thank you for being here today and thank you God. I am so grateful to be back.”

I got so many heartfelt hugs from my wonderful Al-Anon friends. I felt like I won the Kentucky Derby or something 🙂

The worry and anticipation and dread were so much worse than the actual event. (Really, isn’t this always the case with anxiety??)

I had to share this triumph with you today, because friends, if I can face my fears, YOU CAN TOO. I used to think I was the biggest coward for having panic disorder and anxiety.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes a great deal of courage to face life and live life with an anxiety disorder. And I’m here to tell you that if this *coward* can face her fears, you can too!

Remember Thomas Edison’s remark: “If we did all the things we are capable of doing we would literally astonish ourselves.” Astonish yourself!

Source: Positive Thinking Every Day, by Norman Vincent Peale

Have you had an experience of facing panic attacks and making it to the other side unscathed? (except for maybe being a little shaky from all the adrenalin?) I’d love to hear about it. The more you share, the more we all benefit. 🙂

I wish you peace,

Jill G.

Recovery from panic attacks is no cake walk. But it is the key to freedom from fear and getting your life back. Want to know how I’m doing so well after suffering for so long? I recommend and use Panic Away. Click on the link to get started today and reclaim your life from fear. YOU ARE WORTH IT!
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14 Responses to Facing Panic Attacks & Getting to the Other Side

  1. Dawn says:

    I don’t suffer from panic attacks but I do suffer from a fear of public speaking. I wrote a novel a few years back and it became a best seller here in New Zealand. That led to a round of radio interviews.

    Boy – did I sweat and suffer through those. My heart would be racing, the sweat from under my arms was literally running down my sides, my mouth got so dry I thought that when I went to answer nothing would come out.

    The announcer would say super helpful things like “ten seconds to live on air” and my heart would be thudding right out of my chest.

    But – it had to be done, and I would say my bit, and as the interviews progressed I could manage a laugh or two at appropriate times.

    I got through them as one does and felt a stronger person for having done them.

    So I sympathize with people such as yourself that have full blown panic attacks. Must take real guts to get through them.

    • JillG says:

      Hi Dawn,

      Well that’s the point, getting to the other side. You felt stronger for having done your radio interviews, and I feel stronger whenever I face down one of my panic attack inducing situations. Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Bea says:

    I really admire your courage, Jill. I’m not there yet, but I’ve been going over your free report and I’m working on it. One day, maybe…I just can’t seem to get there yet. Sometimes I feel like such a coward.

    • JillG says:

      Bea, you are NOT a coward! Everything you set out to do, do in**micro baby steps**. We have it so hard with anxiety, it’s the scariest thing in the world. I wish I lived near you, we could go out and practice together.
      What is it you want to work on? Maybe we can come up with a plan of actionable baby steps together. 🙂


  4. Bea says:

    Jill, you have got to be the nicest person in the world. What do I want to work on?
    I’m so tired of being afraid…so tired of thinking that people who are my friends wouldn’t really like me if they really knew me.
    I have been invited to a party this November…a friend whom I love and adore…because she and her husband will be leaving for their condo in Mexico afterward, for about 4 months. I love my friend, and I’ll miss her, as always…but I can’t go to the party. You see, something awful is there waiting for me…people. People I don’t know. People who don’t know me. And I’ll embarrass my friend, whom I adore, and her husband (somewhat new, as she was widowed a number of years ago), will tell her it would be better not to invite me again to any of their parties. I already know it sounds stupid, but I’m so afraid…I can’t go. And I’ve spent a week thinking up really good excuses, except that none of them are really good. I don’t want to do something to hurt her…and I’m so afraid. I’m terrible at parties…that’s why I stopped attending them. And she won’t have time just to baby me because she’ll have other guests. And by the way, she’s wonderful!

    • JillG says:

      Hi Bea,

      Ok, first of all, you are really indulging in a lot of negative thinking. The itty bitty shitty committee in your head is telling you things that just aren’t true. Let’s start with the facts: the party is coming up and you are afraid because of social anxiety. Fact: you love your friend and she loves you.
      “I’ll embarrass my friend.” – pure projection: this is the anxiety telling you this. So maybe you can’t work the room like a politician but in truth, not many people really can naturally, at least without alcohol.
      “Hubby will disinvite you to future parties” – again, you are projecting, thinking the worst.
      “She is wonderful, I’m a baby.” the truth: she is wonderful and you are wonderful. She loves YOU, that is why she is your friend.
      Why don’t you make a plan to go and stay for 45 minutes? If you set that as your goal, I bet you could do it. You could have a few things planned to say to people you don’t know. Ask them questions about themselves, their jobs, their kids, (people LOVE to talk about themselves). Or you could talk about neutral topics, upcoming holidays, your friend’s condo in Mexico, etc. Or you could even plan ahead with your friend, tell her you suck at parties and would like to help out. then it could be your “job” to refresh drinks, put our hors de overs, take coats, clean up empty cups, etc, help in the kitchen. Bea, I know with all my heart you could bear it for 45 minutes. And I know with all my heart that all this lamenting about what “could” happen is 1000 times worse than what would actually ever happen.

      People are sooo focused on themselves, especially at a party: what they look like, what they’re wearing. Believe me, the anxiety makes you think you’re under a microscope but the truth is, you are the only one scrutinizing yourself. Everyone is is seriously too busy worrying about themselves.

      How you are suffering because of this party! As you say, you are “so tired of being afraid.”…Bea the only way to get to the other side is to face that fear, in some small way. That’s why I’m encouraging you to think about going, just for 45 minutes.

      I hate social gatherings too. Please read this, it may help you: http://panicfreeme.com/1225/keeping-a-journal-for-coping-with-anxiety/ Read what I journaled (my prayer). Maybe you can do a journal to God too.

      It’s like me going back to my Al-Anon meeting. I was soooo scared. My goal was to sit there, period, nothing else. But showing up was the hardest part. I made myself sick for 3 days before going. Once I was there I was able to do fine.

      Write back if you need to, and please let me know how it goes.


      ps- Oh, I just thought of another good point: these people don’t know you, and you don’t know them. That is great! You may never see any of them again. So maybe you can muster up a “Who gives a shit??” attitude for those 45 minutes. These people mean *nothing* in your life. They won’t matter not 24 hours after the party. I also guarantee if you go and have a plan to stay busy like I mentioned above, you’ll surely find a kind soul to talk to.

  5. Dawn says:

    My heart goes out to you Bea. I’m not the most social person in the world so I do understand just a little what attending this party means to you.

    Jill has given good advise. Could I just add – sometimes I think of these things like a visit to the dentist – I can handle anything for half an hour. I’m not sure if that is appropriate for you but it often helps me get through a social event when I’m wishing I wasn’t there.

    And I wouldn’t worry about the new husband. Your friend is a nice person so he is probably a nice person to. And even if he isn’t – since when did we take much notice of what our husbands thought!

    As Jill advices, just go for a short time – just for the relationship between you and your friend.

  6. Bea says:

    Thanks, Jill, and you too, Dawn. 45 minutes…yes, I can do that. And come to think of it, she’d probably appreciate the help with seeing everyone has their drinks and food. In fact, I think I’d like that part.

    And her husband does seem nice, too. Okay, I’m going to be more positive about this and believe it or not, thinking in terms of 45 minutes is already helping.

    I’ll go, I really have to. I could end up even enjoying myself, I guess.

  7. Bea says:

    I’ll let you know how it goes. And thanks again.

  8. Lola says:

    Hi Jill,
    I’m 17 years old and a Senior in high school. I recently have been having very frequent panic attacks (at least that’s what it seems like they are, I’m having tests done to rule out medical causes but my experiences match up almost perfectly with the ones you describe here) and have been missing a lot of school because of them. For awhile I berated myself because I figured I was just being stupid and needed to learn how to get over it. I felt like I was betraying God because praying didn’t make them go away. Like I didn’t have enough faith or something. I also thought I was alone in this. Then, I heard about other people who began experiencing these same things around this time, and it helps a lot. Looking through your site and realizing that you went through the same thing is helping me realize that it isn’t my fault, and that they can be dealt with and this isn’t going to be forever. I just wanted to say thank you. =)

    • JillG says:

      Hi Lola,

      I’m glad you found the site helpful, and no dear, you are not alone. How wonderful for you to have such a mature understanding at your young age. Take good care of yourself, read everything you can about anxiety self help, and get help if you need it.

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