Hi. My name is Ellen DuBois. I'm the author of I Never Held You: Miscarriage, Grief, Healing and Recovery, used to be the lead singer in a band and currently teach piano to over 30 students ranging in age from 5 to 13. On the outside, you'd think I never suffered from panic attacks. I may even seem like I've "got it together". Well, just as you can't judge a book by it's cover, the same applies to anxiety and/or panic attack sufferers. Anxiety is not selective. It affects people no matter what they do, how successful they are. Panic doesn't care about how much money you make or what you look like. Anxiety attacks are very, very scary and I suffered with them , often in silence, for over twenty years. If there's anything I want you to come away with after visiting this page, it's this: you and NOT alone and there is help- real, honest-to-God help. You don't have to stay like this forever.
Anxiety attacks used to overwhelm me, frighten me, scare the "you know what" out of me. Before I know what they were, I thought I was dying. Every time my heart raced, my hands tingled, my upper lip tingled, or I felt I had to run out of a store, the movie theater, pull over in my car, my fear was fed by more fear.
My anxiety attacks began when I was about twenty years old. I lost the sight in my left eye due to a detached retina and had a hospital stay for about a week. Test after test, poking, looking into my eyes with very bright lights and NOT knowing what was going on all did a number on me. But, I didn't know it then.
It wasn't until I was out of the hospital and home that they first began. I remember it SO clearly...like it was yesterday. I was seeing a production of "Fiddler on the Roof" and my heart started racing to the point where I felt like it was going to pound right out of my chest. I was terrified, got up, and walked as fast as I could down the isle into the lobby. I called my parents, then my doctor. I was still on medication for my eye and was weaning off of it. Could that be the cause?
I was told to "go home and rest". That was it.
Life went on. I got married. Then, I experienced one of the greatest losses of my life- a miscarriage. My panic attacks were full blown and I was once again thrust into a world of fear. Because nobody ever told me what was going on, I didn't know what was happening. I was left in a world where many told me to, once again, "just lay down and calm down."
Then, a divorce. Again the anxiety. I couldn't eat because I thought I'd choke. The thought of being alone sent me into a tailspin. I asked my sister to stay with me while my ex and I worked through the divorce. My emotions were all over the place and I literally thought I was going crazy.
In an attempt to 'reconcile' our marriage, my husband at the time and I went to a counselor. It wasn't going to save my marriage, but it did give me someone I could continue talking to. I did. Even though the divorce still happened, I kept seeing my wonderful counselor until she eventually moved her practice.
She helped me a lot, but I found myself in a world where I felt nobody got it. Nobody got me. So I dug and dug to find as much as I could about panic, anxiety, depression, our bodies, nervous systems, and eventually, how our minds and our faith can get us through and heal us from these very frightening attacks.
Over the past twenty years I've learned a lot. A lot about panic, anxiety, myself, my over-active nerves, my borderline hyperthyroid condition, (it can contribute to the racing/spazzy feeling). I've learned about meditatio-, guided meditations in particular, and how not to fight an anxiety attack, but to go with it, knowing full well that although it's terrible, it will end. I've learned how regulating my breathing regulates my body and calms it down.
I've also learned that I'm by no means alone. I have come so far from where I was, and much of it is due to my own research, reading, digging, learning, growing, accepting and yes, getting help if needed. So much of my overcoming or reducing my anxiety attacks has to do with the healing power of God, the angels and asking for help from the Creator and all spiritual beings who are here to assist me on my journey.
I do wish I never had to deal with these sometimes debilitating attacks, but it's my life and they have been a part of it. So, I want you all to know that you are not alone. If you feel like you're going out of your mind, you are not alone. If your afraid of social situations, of being alone, of driving, of eating, of...well, anything, because your anxiety attacks are so bad, you are not alone. I have been there. I have walked that terrible walk and believe me, I DO know what you're living.
I also know there is hope, healing, help and light. There are better days ahead for you. You may have to to work at it. You may have to do some reading, talk to your doctor, dive into your faith, find out who you are and what triggers your attacks, (sometimes that's tough), but you can do it. You can feel more like the "you" you remember. You can go out, drive, go to the store. You can give yourself permission to leave the room, the dinner party, the movie theater, wherever you are, if you have to. You can learn how to breath from your belly instead of your upper chest and get more air into your body so the symptoms you're feeling resolve themselves. You can do it...you can feel better. I'm not saying your anxiety attacks will completely go away. I still experience symptoms, but because I recognize them for what they are and have had to learn, (the hard way), how to control them and my fear, I am far, far better than I used to be.
I hope what I've said helps you in some way- even if just a little.
You are in my thoughts and prayers.
About Barry McDonagh, the creator of Panic Away:
My name is Barry McDonagh and I have successfully taught thousands of people in over 30 different countries, how to end general anxiety and panic attacks.
Whatever your particular fear is, I want to share some tips and techniques with you over the coming days that will not only help you end these fears but also reduce your general anxiety level dramatically.
After many years of coaching people to be anxiety free, I have noticed that those who experience panic attacks or general anxiety almost always deal with the frequent occurrence of anxious thoughts.
Anxiety has a sneaky way of seeding doubt regardless of whether the fear is rational or irrational.
So what can be done for people who suffer from repetitive anxious thoughts?
To begin, lets look at how an anxious thought is powered and then I will demonstrate how to quickly eliminate the intensity of the thought.
Say for example you are going about your daily business when an anxious thought enters your mind.
Whatever the nature of the thought, the pattern that follows is usually quite predictable.
The anxious thought flashes briefly in your awareness and as it does so you immediately react with fear as you contemplate the thought. The fearful reaction you have to the thought then sends a shock-wave through your nervous system. You feel the result of that fear most intensely in your stomach (due to the amount of nerve endings located there).
Because of the intense bodily reaction to the thought you then get sucked into examining the anxious thought over and over.
The continuous fearful reaction you have to the thought, increases the intensity of the experience. The more you react, the stronger the thought rebounds again in your awareness creating more anxious shock-waves throughout your body. This is the typical cycle of anxious thoughts.
For some it feels like the anxious thoughts are hijacking their peace of mind.
Because of the reaction you are having, you may continue to spend the rest of your day thinking about the anxious thoughts you experienced.
“Why am I thinking these thoughts?” “Why can’t I shake off this eerie feeling?”
The harder you try not to think about it, the more upset you become. It is like telling someone
‘Whatever happens do not think of a pink elephant’.
Naturally enough it’s all they can think about. That’s the way our brains our wired.
So how can you eliminate these unwanted anxious thoughts?
To begin with:
-when you start to experience anxious thoughts, it is very important not to force the thoughts away. Let the thoughts in. The more comfortable you can become with them, the better. These thoughts will never go away fully but what you can learn is to change your reaction to them.
By changing your reaction to the anxious thoughts you become free of them.
Once you establish a new way of reacting to the thoughts it does not matter if you have them or not. Your reaction is what defines the whole experience (and that applies to almost everything).
Everybody experiences fleeting thoughts that many would consider scary or crazy. The difference between most people and somebody who gets caught up in them, is that the average person sees them for exactly what they are, fleeting anxious thoughts, and casually ignores them.
The anxious person is at a disadvantage as they already have a certain level of anxiety in their system. The thoughts easily spark feelings of further anxiety which builds into a cycle of fear. You break the cycle by changing how you react to the fearful thought.
Here is an example of how to approach this:
You are enjoying the way your day is going but then all of sudden a fearful thought comes to mind.
Before you would react with anxiety to the idea and then try to force that thought out of your mind.
This time, however, say:
“That’s a fear of X. I could worry and even obsess over that but this time I’m going to do something different. I’m not going to react to it. I’m also not going to try and stop it either. I’m just going to label the thought and not react.”
Then the thought comes again with more intensity and possibly with new ‘scary’ angles you never considered. When this happens you do exactly the same. As if you were observing a cloud passing overhead, you simply
2.Label it (fear of whatever), then
3.Watch it as it passes by with no judgment. Then...
Move your attention on to what you were doing.
Observe, Label, Watch, Move on
See the anxious thought for what it really is: -one of the thousands of fleeting sane and insane thoughts every one of us experiences daily.
If you are a more indoors type of person then instead of thinking of the thoughts like clouds passing in the sky, you might try imagining a large cinema screen and the anxious thoughts are projected out onto the screen in front of you. Play around with this approach. Find what works for you.
The key thing to remember is to:
Observe, Label, Watch, Move on
By practicing this approach you gradually stop reacting with fear to the thought and you learn to treat it as nothing more than an odd peculiarity.
When you are at a stage where you are comfortable doing the above exercise and you feel you are making good progress, then try this additional step:
Actually invite one of your more regular fearful thoughts in.
Call the fear to you, say you just want it to come close so you can observe it.
It may seem like the last thing you would wish to bring upon yourself, as you don’t particularly enjoy these thoughts but this approach can be very empowering. You are now calling the shots. You actually invited the issue in.
By doing this you are discharging the dense vibration of fear surrounding the anxious thought. That fear was sustaining itself on your resistance, -the idea that you could not handle these thoughts.
The fear quickly evaporates when you turn around and say “yes of course I can handle these thoughts.”
Fear intensifies when we pull away from it. Anxious thoughts become a mental tug of war if we struggle with them.
It is the mental struggle of pulling against the anxious thoughts that creates the inner psychological tension.
The inner tension is fueled by thoughts like:
“I can’t handle to think about this -please go away”
“I don’t like that thought- I want it to stop!”
Take a different stance. Invite anxious thoughts in. Willingly sit with them, label them and do your very best not to react.
Yes, it does take practice but very soon you find yourself in a unique position of control. You are no longer a victim of fearful thinking but a decision maker in what you will or will not be concerned about.
As with every technique there is always a level of practice involved in the beginning. Initially you start observing but then suddenly get anxious about the fearful thought. That’s very normal in the beginning.
Keep at it. Practice and you will quickly see how less impacting those fearful thoughts become.
Do not let your mind trick you into believing that your anxiety is something you will always have to struggle with. That is simply not true.
Not alone is it possible to control the occurrence of anxious thoughts but I can teach you how to end panic attacks and general anxiety if that is your goal.
You can have the life of your dreams. Anxiety does not have the right to steal that hope from you.
I’m going to e-mail you my mini series. It will help reduce anxiety levels significantly.
Some of this information forms a small part of the Panic Away Program. My full program eliminates panic attacks and general anxiety very quickly and has proved highly successful with both long and short term sufferers of anxiety. The results speak for themselves.
To Learn more about Panic Away visit: www.PanicAway.com
All material provided is for informational or educational purposes only. No content is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition.
Miscarriage Support Book by Ellen M. DuBois- I Never Held You: Miscarriage, Grief, Healing and Recovery (Volume 1)