NotSoZen YogaJen

I Just Came Out of a Week of Debilitating Panic Attacks Where I Could Barely Eat or Leave My Apartment, How You Doin’?

Posted on: May 21, 2010

It was bad.  It was by far the worst anxiety I’ve ever had in my life, and completely crippling.  If I could get down a cup of yogurt, take a few sips of water, and respond to one email, it was a good day.  And by that I mean a good bad, terrible, horrendous day.  It was so bad that I only made it to one yoga class this week, and I had to force myself to go so I could relax a little and do something other than panic.  And then I panicked through the entire class. So yeah, not relaxing at all.

While I was IN IT, the fear felt absolutely real and there was no doubt in my mind that I had every reason to be so terrified.  Now, on the other side of it (which, by the way, I thought I’d never get to), I can see clearly that it wasn’t, and was all made up in my mind.  Which just goes to show you how strong the mind and psyche are, and wouldn’t it be great to always be able to channel this powerhouse strength for good and hope and light instead of being tortured by its wretched darkness?

And this is why it came on when it did:  I had a great week last week!  I am taking MAJOR strides to break old destructive patterns!  I am living in NEW, EMPOWERED ways!  And somebody (my Ego maybe?, and yes, I realize that referring to different parts of myself in third person in the same post that I admit to barely being able to leave my apartment might make me seem a little…eccentric) didn’t like that very much.  And actually got really fucking pissed and launched a complete attack on me, pulling out all the stops.  I’ve often seen this pattern on a smaller and less paralyzing scale in my life, like, I’ll be moving forward taking these little steps, and these little fears come up along the way, and just as I’m on the verge of making some major breakthrough, ALL the scary demons come out to play.  And the bigger my dream/goal/life change, the bigger the fear guarding the gates to this new way of being.  That’s why it’s just safer and easier (you know, if you like being able to ingest food and feel the warmth of the sun of your skin) to let your life go on autopilot and hang out with your old, familiar, destructive patterns, even when they do nothing but hold you back and keep you far away from your dreams.

When I was IN IT, for not moments but DAYS, I thought that the panic would never end.  But it did.  I had to do that awful thing where there’s nothing to do, and even yoga and meditation and deep breathing don’t help because it is just so BEYOND that, and you just have to wait and ride it out.  So I rode.  And it passed.

On the other side, there are a couple of things waiting for me.  First of all, I feel like I have a whole new lease on life and a giant appreciation for the simplest pleasures.  Finishing a whole bowl of soup – incredible!  Enjoying a walk around the block – amazing!  Being able to focus on a task for longer than three seconds, like reading an article or a (gasp!) book – MIRACULOUS!

The other thing that happens is I feel super-strong and badass, like, “Dude, you do NOT know what I’ve just been through.  I just kicked fear’s ass!”  I feel like some kind of warrior hero who triumphed in this tremendous battle.  And like I want to share my war stories with the world.

And then there’s the weight-loss side effect.  But being on the Panic Attack Diet is just about as fun as being on the Food Poisoning Diet, though equally as effective.

I also remembered that John Mayer gets anxiety attacks, and that made me think that it would be fun to start a club for all of us peeps who get anxiety and panic attacks.  We can sit in a circle (but not too close to each other if we’re like, IN IT), and John can serenade us, and we can eat cupcakes.  That maybe have Xanax sprinkles.

So, here I am, on the other side at last.  I threw on some SPF 30 and am about to go outside to relax and bask in the sun (EXTRAORDINARY!).  I kicked fear’s ass.  This time.  I realize that there’s a good chance that it’s not done with me yet and will return for a rematch and kick my ass again.  Especially if I’m trying to change and grow.  But I’m a badass anxiety-battling warrior, and I’m not giving up the fight.

Do you ever have anxiety and panic attacks?  What brings them on?  Does overriding old patterns tend to stir them up?  What to you do to get through them?  And how do you feel when you’re on the other side?

Namaste!

YogaJen

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6 Responses to "I Just Came Out of a Week of Debilitating Panic Attacks Where I Could Barely Eat or Leave My Apartment, How You Doin’?"

Fantastic blog entry, Jen! Yes, I get panic and anxiety attacks. In fact, I was having them last week, as well. Thankfully not as bad as you seemed to, but I was WAY off.
A few years I suffered terribly with morning anxiety that lasted for a few years. Can you imagine starting your day like this everyday for years, waking up every morning afraid to get out of bed? The only thing that would get me up was the fear that I never would get up and would become that person who stayed in bed for a whole year, like Sheryl Crow did before she had all her outrageous success, for example.
I still struggle and find the peaks and valleys exhausting quite often. When I’m “In It” I find myself envious of those who are simply able to enjoy their lives with such ease. However, that also helps me get out of it because I see that they can enjoy their lives simply because of their mindset, not necessarily because of what is going on in their life. I begin to see that it is all perspective and the only thing that is wrong in my life is what is going on in my head.

Great post, Jen. There is so much here that I’d like to respond to. I definitely know the feeling about the demons coming out to play… progress is often steps forward and steps back. Just keep stepping, is my motto. So glad to hear that you were able to sit in the sun. And I’m up for cupcakes with Xanax sprinkles anytime ;-D

Hell yeah! I took a nasty detour to Anxietyland last week also, and for very similar reasons — the harder I work to trounce my ego, the louder it comes roaring back at me. To the point where on Friday night all I could do was lie on my bed and sob, “I need a miracle.” Finally not caring if it was cheezy or selfish or any of the stupid things my ego throws at me to make sure I don’t ask for what I really need.

And… I got a miracle. Not right away, but pretty quickly. And when it came it bowled me over with its beauty.

And like you say, every time I come through one of those awful bouts of anxiety/panic/despair, I feel ten times stronger on the other side.

Now I’m walking around quoting “Surf’s Up” to myself: “Don’t fight the wave! Work WITH the wave!”

Awesome post, as always. Keep on kicking fear’s ass!

Hi Jen,
So glad you pushed through…sometimes you just have to wait it out, and then come out strong on the other end. Thank you for opening up and sharing!

Everyone – thanks so much for your comments and sharing your experiences!

Bridgette – I didn’t know about Sheryl Crow, I’m psyched that she can be in our group, too! And she and John Mayer can sing duets! Very inspiring to see people who suffer from massive anxiety overcome it and go for their dreams.

Yolk E – Thank you! YES, keep stepping! The only question now is, who’s bringing the cupcakes? 😉

Beth – so happy to hear that you are feeling better, out of your detour to Anxietyland, and riding that wave!

Amanda – Thank you!

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