It was forceful and I could hear it clear as day. I was literally at the tail end of my first major panic attack. I felt like I was dying. I couldn't breathe, I was crying a cry I can't fully describe, as if everything was just pouring out of me, my entire body had been convulsing and my head felt like it may explode.
You see, I had been through a major trauma, a bombing. It was the largest traumatic event I'd experienced. The person speaking to me was someone with PTSD, so maybe that means she knew more than me on this subject? Maybe when she says I will have these severe attacks for life, she's right?
Everything inside of me said NO. That may be the story she (maybe unconsciously) was going to hold on to, but it was not going to be mine and I made decisions at that time that shaped where I am today.
I know how hard anxiety is. From this point on, I had debilitating attacks for quite some time. I also had anxiety when I was younger, though it took me a long time to realize it. I came from a lot of complex trauma as a child that I gained awareness around through my 30s. I've taken medication at times to help with it and once I faced the intense anxiety after the bombing, I decided my new way forward was to become friends with that anxiety, to stop ignoring it and fearing it and instead, become attuned to it, to create a deeper connection to my body and within.
After the bombing, I decided to not use medication. I wanted to feel and experience all of it. I had this sense that it would be good for me to learn every sensation, so I could feel it coming, identify the triggers immediately and stop it before it could take hold. This method worked for ME, but it would not work for everyone. It's important to talk to your support team and decide what is best for YOU. I did work with a psychologist who specialized in trauma/violence who also used mind/body connection techniques.
I combined therapy with many different energy healing modalities along with the process of allowing myself to feel my anxiety fully in the moments when it arose. I didn't push it away when it came. It was really fucking hard, but this combination of things worked for me . Medication may be the right option for some and temporarily, but do not let anyone tell you that you must live with it (the medication OR the anxiety) forever. Be open to whatever feels right along with the knowledge of your support team. Of course, every individual and experience is different but I invite you to explore many healing modalities before assuming that you will always struggle (a qualified therapist plus others).
The idea that you will always struggle is a false narrative and there is research to back it up. There is a program whose purpose is to help veterans with PTSD called the Headstrong Project. I remember reading an interview with their clinical director years ago where he made this point clear. When talking about PTSD and anxiety, he said, “It’s not weakness. It’s science. And it can be solved.”
Anxiety is a normal part of our nervous system response. Anxiety is also an energy, and energies can be shifted.
For more than 1.5 years after the bombing, my leg would shake all the time, just like a jackhammer. I remember one particular day, sitting in my favorite coffee shop, shaking as usual. The owner, an uncle figure to me, walked out of the back and said,
“I was thinking I could tape your legs to the chair and then your leg would stop shaking. But then, I figure your arms would shake and then I’d have to tape those too. Then your head may shake so it may be too much to tape your head down. But you know what I was thinking?”
“What?” I asked.
“That there’s something in there that is just trying to work it’s way out of you. So, you sit there and shake as much as you need. It will make it’s way out.”
“That’s exactly what I feel.” We smiled at each other as he went on his way.
I will tell you, I feel down to my every cell that this particular conversation nailed it. I knew it was an energy needing to be released.
I had absorbed a LOT of tough energy in that few minutes when the bombing happened and I continued to pick up more as I went along. I had a lot to release and that would take time.
During an energy healing session, I had what was similar to one of my panic attacks. I even passed out. When I woke, I felt a peace I hadn't felt in 20 months. I felt lighter, literally. I felt an overwhelming sense of calm. Over the coming weeks, this was tested. I was in situations where my leg would violently shake and I sat there with nothing. Others noticed and commented on it. I had become known as the “shaker” and here I was, completely still.
I went to a holiday party at a packed bar and I mean PACKED, where you could barely make your way through. I had barely been able to be in a busy place before this, running out feeling like I couldn't breathe every time tried. But, here in this bar, I stood in the center, people basically touching me on all sides, loud music and I was still and felt no anxiety at all.
Now, does this mean that I've never had anxiety again? NO. I get anxiety. Our bodies are meant to alert us, protect us and to feel energies of what is happening in our own lives and those around us. This is especially true when faced with new things, old triggers or things like, I don't know, a pandemic. I've never again had another panic attacks like I did at that time. When I do have any feelings of anxiety, it's mostly mild, showing up in ways like overwhelm, procrastination and other behaviors. Now, I have a whole toolbox to turn to thanks to the support and knowledge I gained.
I am honored to be able to share with you, the tools I have learned for this and other things that hold you back.