I suffered so much with teenage panic attacks.
‘Look back but don’t stare’ is a wonderful saying I learned in Al-Anon. It means that while it’s good to examine the past, it’s important not to get stuck there. For people with a history of panic attacks this is especially true.
I went to visit my parents this weekend. It’s always nice to spend quality time with them, in the home where I grew up.
As I was driving into town, I felt a sense of nostalgia and thought about my childhood. I drove passed my old high school, it’s memories of me long past. I saw the fashion conscious teens as they stood in groups in front of the school, and remembered back to the 1980’s when I was the very same with my friends. I couldn’t help but remember all the pain I suffered in that building trying to cope with panic attacks as a teenager.
Later that day my mother and I were at the local shopping mall, browsing around at Macy’s big winter clearance sale. Again I was taken aback to my teenage years, when going to the mall was so traumatic for me. I had memories of acute anxiety and panic attacks in the very store I was now standing in. At one point when I was looking at jeans, I started to feel anxiety and depersonalization.
I didn’t panic or freak out, I followed my anxiety recovery program as instructed. I just stayed with the feelings, trusting my body and knowing that ultimately I am safe and that no harm would come to me. I also felt safe with the knowledge that depersonalization can’t hurt me, and that eventually it will pass. I felt the weird feelings but at the same time didn’t go into full panic mode because they were there. Within a few minutes, I felt back to ‘me’ again, I was a little shaky from adrenalin, but otherwise no worse for the wear.
That shopping trip was a complete success, I was able to fully enjoy my mom’s company company and I scored a $350 DKNY winter coat for less than 50 bucks. More importantly, I didn’t let my stupid anxiety ruin the afternoon, which I definitely would have done in the past. What a refreshing change for me!
Later that day after dinner with my parents, we were looking at a bunch of old photographs together. What stayed with me was something my mother said, “You were so outgoing when you were young, always in the school plays and cheerleading. Then you got so shy in high school, almost overnight. Was that because of the panic attacks?”
Yes Mom, it was all because of the torture of panic attacks. Fear ruled my life from a very young age, and it severely limited my life. I lived this way for far too long, simply because I didn’t know there was a way out of it. I didn’t know my life could ever be more than swallowing pills, overdrinking, or smoking pot to deal with my bizarre feelings.
I don’t regret my past, it made me into who I am. Instead I focus on being grateful I am where I am today. And I am so grateful. I am living a full and happy life, finally. Today I have the life I used to only dream about as that anxious girl with teenage panic attacks.
Today I can look back and not stare. It feels so good to be living my life without dreading having another panic attack. My parents are thrilled that I’m doing so well and that makes my journey even more joyful.
If you think for one second you can’t live a full life because of anxiety and panic attacks, I’m here to tell you that you that is dead wrong. There is simply nothing as liberating as being an ex- panic attack sufferer. My teenage panic attacks are but a memory, thank God. 🙂
I wish you peace,
ps.- Thankfully, today I have found Panic Away, and it has really really helped me. Please get started today and reclaim your life from fear. What you can never, EVER get back is all the days, weeks, months, and years you lose to panic and fear.
photo credit: chris8800