Have you ever had that overwhelming feeling of impending doom? Have your palms gotten sweaty and your fingers gone numb? Has your throat felt like it had a large navel orange stuck in the back and you couldn’t swallow past it? Have you experienced heart palpitations or hyperventilation until you thought you’d pass out?
These are all typical signs of a panic attack. I should know…I’ve been enduring these lovely episodes since I was in third grade. They are not fun and they are even more difficult to battle.
For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me. DUH!!!!
No, really…I thought I was being paid back for all of the many sins I had committed – completely irrational and bizarre thinking for an elementary aged child. Little did I know that when the panic attacks came on stronger in my early 20’s that I would have SO MANY more sins to feel guilty for!!! Pitiful.
Thankfully, I have now learned that panic attacks are just the way my body deals with stress. Obviously, we all encounter stressful situations…some of us get busy, some get hives, others get shingles, and etc.
I get a panic attack.
My panic disorder began back in the day when parents told you it was all in your head and doctors told parents that they shouldn’t dispense medication for something that was controllable and that there was really nothing wrong anyway.
Thankfully, modern medicine has come a long way and so have the medical field’s philosophies on mental illness.
Personally, I have tried everything from medication to therapy and relaxation techniques to prayer. All of these things have absolutely helped my condition, but nothing has taken the outbreaks completely away.
Most of the time I hide my condition well, but if you are one of the sad souls that’s been with me when I’ve gone off the deep end, you know how serious this disorder is and how discombobulated I become.
In fact, I had an episode one time where it took me six hours to drive a two and a half hour trip from college to my parent’s home because I had to stop at every exit and call my mom for encouragement to keep me going. Thank you God for cell phones these days!!!
Other times I’ve sobbed in front of airplane pilots and stewardesses begging them to hold my hand and get me home safe. I’ve cried, screamed, ran and hidden; but, panic attacks have always found me.
It’s quite depressing and more than a little unnerving to be bound to your home, a person or talisman (for me this is my bottle of Xanax that can always be found in my purse regardless of whether I take it or not) that gives you relief because you are afraid to let go and plummet into the dark hole of panic.
Sometimes I can feel the panic episode coming on, but other times it hits me upside the head out of the blue. I have found for me that there is no formula to when, where, how and why these attacks happen.
You would think that I would be worn out and bitter after over 30 years of dealing with panic attack occurrences.
However, that is not the case. Actually, I have come to realize that my continued battle with panic disorder has given me several amazing attributes.
- A stronger relationship with God.
- A huge dose of empathy for other people.
- A large desire to encourage other people.
- A great understanding that God CAN do anything.
- An appreciation that suffering really does bring us closer to Christ.
- A realization that everyone suffers in their own way and you may never see it.
More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
My name is Meg Hays and I suffer from panic disorder.
Nonetheless, let’s be clear. My panic disorder does not define me. It has certainly been a factor in creating the person I am today, but I am blessed beyond measure because of the hope, love, joy and peace I receive from my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
A panic attack may strike me at any time, but it will pass and I will continue to lean on God for His guidance, assurance and comfort.
I am more than the panic attacks I experience and I will not be destroyed by them. I am a living example of how God can lead us through even the darkest places.
I truly hope my experiences and today’s profession will help you help yourself or others. I also hope that you will see how God can work with the weakest and still accomplish wonderful things through their pain.
REMEMBER…”For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18
Some Wisdom for Today: Proverbs 23:18 – Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.