If you are a panic-attack sufferer, you will need to roll up your sleeves and commit to the task of your own well-being. Others can offer advice, comfort, and medication, which can all be helpful. But until you take an active role in your own restoration, dramatic change will be unlikely.
I wanted the Lord to heal me in my sleep so I could rise up righteous in the morning. Instead, He has been teaching me i need to be involved and responsive in the healing journey.
Healing is a Risk
Healing is a risk because to be healed, we must trust. Those of us suffering emotionally have a broken trust factor that makes healing difficult. We’ll consider that factor in the next chapter, but first let’s talk about survival skills. How can we manage the dailiness of life in the midst of panic flushes?
A question I have been asked over and over is “How did you deal with the panic?” panic is like a circle. A panic attack has a beginning and must come full circle once it begins. The size of the cycle depends on our response to the feelings of panic. If we fan the flame of fear, our circle enlarges, increasing the intensity of our emotions and the duration of the cycle.
The following are a few of the favorite lines the tempter spews in our direction during a panic to increase the severity of our attack:
“This is the worst panic you have ever had.”
“You are going to lose control.”
“You are losing your mind.”
“You are going to die.”
“You will never get well.”
Lies, Lies, Lies
Lies, lies, lies! But how can we know their lies? Let’s test them
“This is the worst panic.” Whatever we are feeling at the moment seems the most intense we’ve ever experienced, because we are closest to it. This is the worst headache this is the best movie this is the most scrumptious dinner; this is the brattiest child; and so on. When we tell ourselves this panic is just another cycle of discomfort, we help to neutralize its momentum.
“You are going to lose control.” When we buy into the lie that we must be in control to be safe, we increase the panic’s ability to hold us hostage. Most of life is uncontrollable (weather, unforeseen circumstances, people’s responses, taxes, etc.), and yet generally speaking, we remain safe.
“You will lose your mind.” This lie tells us our panic is caused by a weakened mind. Instead, panic is fueled by our fragile emotions, which feed the mind inaccurate information. Sometimes the mind has been fed wrong information from the outside, and then it conveys the misinformation to our emotions, which overreact. We are not going to lose our minds; we just need to change them.
“You are going to die.” Have you? I rest my case.
“You will never be well.” Each time we experience a panic attack, our tendency is to negate any growth we have had. If we have an attack after going for a while without one, we think it’s a sign we are right back to square one, which is usually not true at all.
Defuse the Lies
Once I learned to defuse the lies, I began to make progress. First, I changed my thoughts during a panic cycle. That’s not easy! It feels like trying to ignore a screaming child who is seated beside you on an airplane. But with effort and practice, you can learn to block out the bad information by a repeated act of your will and focus on things that help you settle down.
I would tell myself, You have been through this before, and you will make it through this time. I would insist that my muscles relax as a way to reduce tension and be an active participant in my own get-well program. At first, like a rebellious child, my muscles resisted my command, but as I persisted, they obeyed.
Learning how to implement your own healing strategy will lessen the panic attacks’ frequency and intensity. At times you will suffer setbacks, and a more insistent panic will sneak up on you. Remember the enemy likes sick surprises. Don’t indulge his lies or his tricks, but draw on your resources.
Call upon the Lord. (Remember who’s in control.)
Calm your body. (Relax.)
Collect your thoughts. (Renew your mind.)
Carry on quietly. (Restore your schedule.)
Those of us who have been or are being held hostage by panic are people given to extremes. Finding balance will not be easy for us, but it is possible. For instance, if you talk too much (and you know if you do), develop listening skills.
If you make yourself and everyone else nervous by your anxious rushing about, take ten-minute quiet breaks to slow yourself down. Your body and mind will contest this discipline at first and thank you for it later.
If you are a couch potato, set realistic activity goals for yourself each day. Note the word realistic, because with our extremism, we will tend to either overwhelm ourselves and feel defeated or trade in our “couch potatoeness” to become busybodies.
When we hide our insecurities behind grabbing, gallivanting, or other emotional indulgences, we impede our progress and coddle our weaknesses. A true retreat is when we find emotional relief. That happens when we disarm the terrorists who hold us hostage. Panic can be conquered by implementing a new strategy, facing our fears, and resolving our inner disharmony one issue at a time.
–Excerpt from Under His Wings-