The gift of a panic attack
I was talking to a client of mine yesterday morning who had her very first panic attack at age 45. She was so overcome by it all that she couldn’t even get out of bed.
I know that feeling all too well; I began regularly having panic attacks in my late thirties, when I developed insomnia. I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with Epstein-Barr and had no clue what was happening. But here’s what I did know: having a panic attack was one of the worst feelings I’d ever encountered. The feeling of needing to crawl of out my own skin. The feeling like my heart would explode out of my chest. The feeling that I just couldn’t breathe and was totally losing my mind. I was a hot mess and it wasn’t pretty.
I would try to breathe and meditate but I just couldn’t shut my mind down; the crazy train had already left the station. So I would just lie awake all night, listening to my heart pound, waiting for it to subside.
To make matters worse, I also knew I had to wean off the Xanax I had been taking to try and sleep, which was no longer working. I had cut a 0.5mg pill in half and then in half again to wean myself before I stopped completely. But even after that, I spent another 5 months detoxing from the nasty stuff, which meant rebound anxiety and more panic attacks–and was totally wicked..
I know after surviving that experience, I am indeed a warrior. And I’m so proud I did it.
Now that my sleep situation has greatly improved, I don’t have many panic attacks anymore. Sometimes if my room temperature is too hot I get triggered, or if I’ve gone many days without sleep I revert back. But otherwise I’m in a really great space.
The silver lining about having a panic attack is that it’s a reminder to take care of my business and always pushes me into a better place with actionable steps. If I’m stressed about something going on at school with my son that triggers my insomnia, I start reaching out to my mom network and teachers for solutions. If I’m taking on too much with my business, I dial it back and get laser focused on what I specifically want to accomplish. If my health seems to be sliding backwards, I’ll make an appointment with one of my practitioners to troubleshoot and strategize.
The wisdom of our bodies is always telling us something; it’s our job to listen. Pain and suffering are a flashing, blaring alarm that we need to handle our business–plain and simple.
So the real question is this: How will you use your pain and suffering to push you to the next level?