Friday, September 23, 2016

Panicking on Purpose

The road to anxiety disorder recovery is paved with panic attacks. In order to overcome your panic to any degree, you have to have panic attacks on purpose. You have to put one foot in front of the other down that road and get used to that which gives you distress. It sounds counter-intuitive. Trust me, it is doing the exact opposite of what your mind and body are telling you to do, which is why a lot of us, myself included, have persistent anxiety disorders.

For most of us, the biggest problem with anxiety isn't the thoughts and events that trigger it but rather the resultant, often extreme, discomfort. Once something gives you a panic attack, your brain starts to believe that there really was danger. A panic attack sure feels like danger, so it is completely logical and rational to fear the things that have given you panic attacks in the past. Don't let anyone tell you differently. What you have to do is embrace the illogical. Accept the unexpected and purposely do things that make you panic. Give yourself the freedom to be absurd and belly flop right into that gut-wrenching terror.

Today, I did something my therapist and I discussed with my husband in my last session. I hopped in my car by myself (I loathe driving without another licensed driver in the car.), drove to the local park and went for a walk. On the way home, I decided to take it a bit further. I drove down to the local grocery store and was considering doing some shopping, but by then I knew I was going to have a panic attack soon, so I went home and have been having off and on and anxiety for about 2 hours since. Do I hate it? Yes. Still, I'm proud of myself and know it was like taking my medicine. I'm going to have to do it again and again, maybe for a long time. There will be setbacks. There will definitely be panic attacks. There will also be good times along the way as I achieve my goals and get back to the things I love.

If you're on the road to recovery, I'm both sorry and happy for you. It's not going to be a simple fix. There is no simple fix. However, it's going to be worth it. You're going to be tough, or you'll just endure it. Either way, you'll survive it. That's what we do. We take a deep breath and keep going.