The Panic Room always welcomes feedback from clients. In this latest article, Sarah (whose real name is bound by confidentiality) has kindly written a short article about how she overcame anxiety and stopped her panic attacks. Sarah hadn’t been officially diagnosed with an anxiety or panic disorder, however her symptoms presented very similar to a lot of cases. The Panic Room thanks her for her contribution and feedback. We wish you all the best ‘Sarah’.
“First of all, I’d just like people to know that I had suffered from the symptoms of anxiety for around 6 years. I suffered pretty badly. For instance, I couldn’t leave the house by myself – my husband had to come with me and even accompany me to appointments. When he went to work I would stay at home and be too scared to go outside. I had to leave my part-time job as the anxiety got too much. The anxiety feelings didn’t leave when I stayed inside either!
When at home I’d always live my days like I was ‘freaking out’ – scared that something was wrong me because I always felt like I was going insane. It felt like I was going to experience something like a catastrophic loss of control – that’s about as best as I could describe it. The anxious feelings would usually start in the morning. I’d wake up and the first thing I’d think was ‘has the feeling gone away yet?’ Of course the feelings still remained and this triggered my panicking response. I’d spend the rest of the day pacing the house and feeling anxious and strange. I always thought that, if I thought long and hard about what the problem (anxiety) might be or where it came from, then I could arrive at some miraculous, miracle-like thought that would make the feelings go away.
I’d suffer from panic attacks as a result of this routine. My house was, as Joshua describes it, my ‘emotional crutch’ that I irrationally thought was keeping my mind together. Going outside by myself meant extreme danger or high risk of embarrassment for me. I knew this was silly, yet I believed my feelings. Sometimes you just can’t trust your gut! So I’d be stuck inside my house trying to tame my anxious thoughts and feelings and becoming exhausted as a result of it. It was a strain on my marriage, my friendships (I lost contact with certain friends) and the relationships with my close family. They just didn’t understand. They didn’t get it.
Over the years I tried to find practical ways of tackling the anxiety. I have amassed a large collection of anxiety related books – some of which were helpful and but most of which were utterly useless and lacked any understanding. I was vulnerable and because of this I fell victim to anxiety cure scams, which I would mention by name but Joshua asked me not to. I’ve tried herbal teas, ointments and herbal supplements with little results, although I still do enjoy a chamomile tea. I also accessed services via my GP. I undertook C.B.T therapy as well as psychotherapy. I learned quite a bit from this intervention but the feelings and thoughts anxiety caused me still remained.
I managed to stumble across the Panic Room via Joshua’s book Anxiety: Panicking about Panic. A relative had recommended the book to me and the most I can say is that it’s been a revelation.. It gave me the foundations to begin working on my anxiety, the symptoms and myself. As a lot of anxiety books are based in the US, I naturally assumed that The Panic Room was american and was disheartened at this as I felt it would prevent me access. I live in confidential and was so excited to know that the Panic Room is based in Manchester – just over an hour away! I rang for an appointment and arranged with my husband to transport me there.
The Panic Room was something different and I immediately felt it was accessible for me. I was able to speak about my symptoms and feelings in an environment of understanding. What helped was that Joshua was a previous sufferer of a lot of my symptoms so it automatically made me feel calm. I didn’t feel alienated or like a medical ‘test subject’ from previous experiences.
I was educated about my symptoms so I could understand them. The symptoms of my anxiety mostly manifested themselves as intense fear, dizziness and difficulty breathing. I also realised I had other symptoms that related to my condition, such as experiencing episodes of derealisation and putting up with a rapid heartbeat all of the time. The causes of these symptoms were explained to me and it was so relieving for me to realise that: 1. I wasn’t going insane 2. The symptoms were harmless 3. I was actually ‘normal’
We also discussed my thoughts, life perspective and overall rationality in situations where I was anxious. This helped me so much because I was able to challenge thoughts and feelings when anxiety overwhelmed me. When I challenged them and ‘went through’ the feelings of terror; I learned that what I was thinking and feeling was of no relevance to the current outside world. This wasn’t easy, but I was surprised by how quickly the brain and body can change and adapt. Over time, as I invited and challenged these thoughts, I had re-trained my brain not to be scared of things anymore. After 2 weeks I was able to go outside by myself. I still found crowded places overwhelming, but I was slowly and knowingly beating what had scared me for all these years.
What was important for me was knowing what was responsible for my feelings. Every day I was constantly releasing adrenaline and cortisol into my bloodstream. This caused my rushing and looping thoughts and my strange, horrifying symptoms. I had to allow myself a moment of clarity and calm in order to rationalise my thoughts and feelings.
I beat anxiety because I realised that all I was experiencing over these last 6 years was… just anxiety. It was the combination of reassurance and education from the Panic Room which helped me overcome what had crippled me for years. So from now on, whenever I experience a symptom of anxiety (which is rare) I have the tools to deal with it. I remind myself that it is ‘normal’ to feel this and thus don’t allow my brain to attach any unnecessary importance to it. If my heart palpitates then that’s fine. If I feel slightly aggrieved at at the prospect of going outside – then it’s fine. If I feel a moment of detachment – it’s all fine. The symptoms of my anxiety were made worse because I panicked about it. Now, I live a life free from those horrible feelings that were keeping me from doing what I always wanted.
I can’t thank the Panic Room enough for helping me. After so many years it’s easy to lose hope. I recommend this unique place to anyone who experiences even the slightest bit of debilitating anxiety. Thank you to Joshua and I hope I don’t have to see you again!”
On behalf of the Panic Room I would like to thank Sarah for her contributing article. It means so much to help others who are in need and who struggle with anxiety. If Sarah’s story sounds similar to yours then feel free to get in touch to discuss an appointment. Alternatively, you can purchase Anxiety: Panicking about Panic to help get you on your way to beating anxiety and its awful symptoms.