PANIC MONSTER DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE!
Exploding the Mystery and Myth of Anxiety Disorders
By Shari Schreiber,
going about your day as usual, and all of a sudden your heart starts
pounding, you break out in a sweat, you’re feeling dizzy or faint
and short of breath. You might be nauseous or feel like you’re choking,
and you presume you’re having a heart attack, because there's pain
or pressure in your chest! You’re almost paralyzed by
these scary sensations, and fairly certain you’re either dying or
going crazy. Welcome to your first panic attack.
seems weird, is that one day you’re fine, and the next
day you’re not. Like thousands of individuals worldwide who struggle
with feelings of panic or anxiety, you're probably wondering just
how and why this has happened to you!
mystery of Anxiety Disorder is that it
appears to "come out of nowhere" and of course,
this is perplexing to your rational mind. Since panic symptoms are
unlike anything you’ve felt before and they seem completely
beyond your control, your natural response might be to consult a
physician. Once you're examined, and obvious medical concerns (like
heart disease) are ruled out, the myth
your doctor may perpetuate about your condition is, "it’s
treatable, but incurable." Next thing you know, you're leaving
his/her office with an Rx for anti-anxiety meds, and questioning
if you'll always need that prescription.
the time you read this, you may have had a number of these debilitating
episodes, and you're actively seeking a cure--or perhaps you've
learned to live with this issue, by making certain
adjustments and sacrifices. In either case, you're about to discover
that you can eliminate this problem quickly and easily.
you're skeptical, and that's wise and healthy--in fact, I wouldn't
expect you to feel differently at this point. You've suffered terribly,
and that's why this article was written for You. Specific life experiences
have contributed to your condition, and the insights you'll acquire
here can be an important part of your healing.
You'll get the most value from this piece, if you click the hyperlinks
that take you to other pages, after you've completed reading/studying
IT ALL ABOUT, ALFIE?
Panic and anxiety impact the autonomic nervous system
in your body which operates its involuntary responses
to various stressors. These 'autonomic' responses function automatically,
whether you want them to or not~ think, ‘goose bumps’ when you’re
cold or frightened, and perspiration when you’re overheated or nervous.
Along these lines, feelings of anxiety and panic are such intense
stressors, they trigger bodily reactions that are impossible
to ignore or brush aside as insignificant or unimportant--in other
words, you can't choose not to feel them!
Anti-anxiety meds interact with your brain to help calm and control
these reactions, but they do not address the cause of your
distress. This article helps you learn why you've
acquired this condition, and how to eliminate it once and for
understand that panic and anxiety are feeling issues.
In truth, if you'd been given the kind of attention as a child that
comforted/soothed you when you experienced pain rather than forcing
you to put those feelings away or disregard them, you'd have learned
how to self-soothe whenever difficult feelings emerged, and you
wouldn't be wrestling with panic attacks now.
you ever heard yourself exclaim, "whatever!"
in reference to a situation or person you're struggling with? When
we're not given vital tools to help us cope with painful emotions
like disappointment, fear or frustration as kids, our only option
is to suppress these feelings--or make
them not matter. This reflex follows us into adulthood, and is actually
the root of panic problems.
to drugs and alcohol often arise in children or young adults, out
of the need to manage anxious or uncomfortable feelings. Folks usually
find clever ways to side-step these feelings with eating, smoking
or other compulsive behaviors that may include gambling, sex, over-work,
Internet activity, etc.
you're trapped at home with Agoraphobia, you may
have already explored various methods for treating it, and could
be feeling discouraged that you're still suffering. Most therapies
and 'do-it-yourself' programs are behaviorally based, and
your success depends on self-discipline (I hate that, don't
you?). Unfortunately, they can't target your anxiety issues in a
way that helps you overcome them, because they're not specific to
how your panic triggers were established. While this marketplace
seems saturated with books, tapes and CD programs that claim to
end panic attacks, you may be like many, many others, who respond
best to more personalized attention. Welcome!
EVERY PROBLEM, THERE'S A SOLUTION.
you're afraid of driving your car (a typical complaint) or performing
another task or function outside of your home, these obstacles can
be overcome! While reading this article, you might experience sudden
sleepiness, or maybe a little sadness. Rest assured, there's nothing
to fear from these sensations, and I encourage you to continue.
These are somatic responses, which means that a
part of you is identifying with elements that might have
contributed to your struggle. It also means that full recovery
could be just around the corner.
am not in the therapy business--I'm in the Healing
Recovery methods will help you overcome this problem. You will
be growing stronger and feeling more confident, with every session.
work differently than other practitioners you may have seen for
help with this issue. My methods have proven remarkably effective
for resolving panic and anxiety regardless of
age, or how long you've suffered. You will receive as much interim
support and personal attention as you need, to move you past this
difficulty. You'll begin to feel better during our first phone contact.
There's no charge for this, and no obligation to continue.
THIS HAPPEN TO ME?!"
and panic don't just happen "out of the blue," even though
it seems this way to virtually everyone, after their first
episode. Anxiety isn't some sort of alien entity that invades your
body, when you've reached a particular age or stress level. The
roots of this problem actually go way back to early childhood, and
if you've become a People
Pleaser, you're at much higher risk for acquiring this
disorder, because you’ve lived for many years with fear or self-judgment
about feeling and expressing certain emotions. Metaphorically speaking,
after sweeping all those feelings 'under the rug' for so long, you're
now having to maneuver around on some very lumpy terrain! As this
cannot help but impede your personal and professional strivings
or aims, how could you possibly feel safe or secure about
much of anything?
standing panic symptoms may be only part of an individual's
diagnostic picture, that's associated with Borderline Personality
Disorder. BPD features are discussed in other articles
on this website. The reason these traits may exist, is that childhood
struggles usually prompt dissociation from difficult feelings, to
survive whatever's going on in the home
at that time. Dissociation is discussed in greater depth throughout
this piece. It generally takes the form of suppression, or forcing
various emotions underground, when they've seemed too dangerous
to experience or express. These foundational control issues can
be resolved in our work.
you've been diagnosed with Anxiety or Panic Disorder, at some point
you'll probably be asking yourself at least one of the following
questions: "Do I have to take pills
the rest of my life, so I can move through my days without these
disruptive, debilitating symptoms? Should I buy tapes or CD’s that
teach me to talk myself through panic episodes, so I can eventually
manage them? Do I have enough patience/discipline to actually
use those techniques, and will they heal my anxiety
condition? Is behavioral modification or 'self-talk' a permanent
solution for this issue?" And finally, "What the heck
caused this in the first place!?"
real answer to all these questions, is No~ because they only address
the syptoms of your anxiety/panic, not the cause of it.
IN A NUTSHELL
is really just a surrogate emotion that steps-in to take
the place of important but uncomfortable feelings you'd rather not
experience, and have trained yourself to get rid of.
begins with discovering that panic and anxiety are nothing more
than very powerful feelings, that are able to break through all
emotional controls you've constructed throughout your lifetime.
Again, having discovered how to escape certain feelings, or make
them "not matter" is at the foundation
of all panic and anxiety issues. The reasons you might
have had to do this are detailed below, and keeping an open mind
will be very useful in helping you mend. For now, let's respect
that you've acquired some terrific coping skills that have helped
you get through various challenging or difficult situations. These
have served you during childhood--but at this point they're
working against you, and contributing to your panic attacks! Hang
on, this is about to make much more sense . . .
ROOTS OF A PANIC TREE
As children, we all needed the kind of attention that would help
us develop healthy self-esteem; if/when we didn't get enough of
it, we began to doubt our value and lovability. As we grew, our
parents might have punished or ignored us, just for expressing feelings
that were inconvenient or unpleasant for them to accommodate. So,
in order to obtain vital supplies of acceptance and approval, or
at least avoid alienation, we learned to appear and act a certain
way around Mom and Dad--and some of us still do! Repetition
of these experiences made us learn to suppress the feelings
that our parents treated as negative or "bad,"
such as sadness, frustration, anger, etc. ~and what was our reward
for learning to control those emotions? Occasionally we
got the attention we really needed, so we could feel
better about ourselves, and manage to get by.
adult who suppresses feelings, was generally a child who felt it
was safer to become invisible in his home, so as not to put more
burden on his parent and feel guilty for that, or be ridiculed or
physically punished for having any needs.
many of us, suppression of difficult feelings developed into a habitual
pattern of accommodation, or people
pleasing. Without highly specialized help, this tendency remains
alive forever, and impacts every aspect of our existence. In worse
case scenarios, it prompts/perpetuates Agoraphobia.
As an agoraphobic, you're terrified of leaving your home, for fear
you'll experience total loss of control and humiliation, in the
midst of a panic attack. But in truth, since virtually all
unfavorable feelings have been repressed during your life, you're
now imprisoned by a limiting disorder that keeps you homebound.
Tragically, if you've never had opportunity to learn how
to deal with your feelings, your feelings will deal with
teach you how to honor, experience and express your feelings.
attacks can keep us trapped in loveless, passionless relationships.
We cling to them, because we think we need the other person--even
if we're no longer wanting him/her, or this partner is abusive.
Quite often, it's various elements within the relationship or marriage
itself, which are triggering our anxiety! When we've gained some
strength to help us deal with the source of our pain, panic
OL' HUMAN NATURE RIDES AGAIN
all equipped with an instinctual impulse to survive.
This is with us from from the time we're born~ or maybe beforehand,
and is sometimes referred to as our 'fight or flight' mechanism.
As kids, it probably felt too dangerous to take a stand and fight
with our parents, so we fled. We might
have done this by spending a lot of time in our room--or hanging
out with our friends and their families. But aside from
these childhood 'mini-escapes,' it didn't seem practical
or possible to leave home physically, so we found ways
to do it emotionally. We did this by gradually shutting down/denying
certain feelings and needs, because when these weren't adequately
responded to, we were left with anger, frustration or sadness. Since
these emotions felt bad, we came to judge
them as bad or wrong, and methodically trained ourselves to avoid
them! Each time these emotions surface today, you might still judge
yourself as wrong/bad for having them--which reinforces
your impulse to push them further away.
are often referred to as "feelings," because we feel
them in our body. They are all extremely valuable and necessary,
because they help us respond in appropriate, emotionally congruent
ways to different situations. All feelings including physical ones,
are impacted by repression and denial; you cannot decide to 'kill
off' feelings you think of as "negative," and
expect the positive ones to remain alive and vibrant! In
short, when we squelch our pain or anger, we also
squelch our joy--and this of course, fuels depression and sensations
you’ve been programmed since childhood to believe that certain kinds
of feelings are bad or "unacceptable," you'll have a tendency
to reprimand or diminish yourself whenever they start to surface.
This can certainly motivate you to get rid of those feelings, but
what do you suppose happens to them when they're discarded--that
is, where do they go?? If you've been a fan of HBO's The
Sopranos, you might have learned this answer, when
Dr. Melfi explained to Tony Soprano, that "depression is rage
turned inward." By the way, James Gandolfini's character started
his psychiatric treatment, for help with panic
issues! Repressed anger, unexpressed resentment or hurt also
behavior, which severely compromises you and your relationships--but
let's come back to this later.
EMBRYOS GROW INTO PANIC MONSTERS.
When various feelings get disposed of, in order to have
a better experience with Mom and Dad, it's pretty common for children
to mentally 'fast-forward' and envision a brighter future--to
escape emotional pain/discomfort in the present. The adaptive
reflex that most kids acquire is; "when I grow up, it'll
be different!" This reflex is attended by fantasies of
what adulthood will be like, and what we'll have or own in terms
of a child's notion of happiness. Another
of these reflexes that helped us regulate internal tension and divert
childhood pain, was drawing comparisons to others who had it "much
worse" than we did. Our parents may have had a hand
in creating this one; "I cried when I had no shoes, until
I met a man who had no legs," or you may have heard, "keep
this up, and I'll give you something to really
cry about!" These remarks were supposedly intended to
obliterate any difficulties we had to endure, and help
us cope--but instead, they forced our feelings underground.
there are inherent problems with these coping mechanisms, as they
can easily sit for years~ like buried land mines, waiting
to blow up! On one hand, they keep us from experiencing
uncomfortable, but authentic feelings. On the other,
they set us up for disappointment and shame when we're
grown, because our adult life may not feel much happier, than when
we were kids! This is when long held hopes, fantasies and beliefs
are challenged in a way that makes us think that having failed to
reach our childhood vision, is all our fault. This terribly
erroneous assumption has derailed your ability to thrive,
rather than just survive. Surrendering your self-judgment and building
esteem, allows your present reality to become far more pleasurable
self-deprecating thoughts can be paralyzing! At the very least,
they compromise our energy and impetus, and inhibit/derail future
strivings. Still, these fast-forwarding and comparison impulses
have become part of a default survival strategy, that remains embedded
forever--or until we're strongly motivated perhaps by panic
attacks, to change it. Furthermore, this default strategy
has combined with disappointing childhood experiences, that left
us with very limited resources in our emotional
toolbox for building healthy adult attachments.
If you've never had opportunities to recognize and honor your
own feelings or needs, how can you effectively
respond to someone else's?!
THAT @#$+%^&* CRYSTAL BALL!
and scanning the horizon for disaster, are learned control
reflexes. As previously mentioned, we may have cultivated these
very early, when our home environments felt unstable or
held unpleasant surprises, and we had to manage our feelings
about that. This tendency is magnified if there are attention
deficit issues, because this neurological condition makes
mood and motivation cycles dauntingly unpredictable! We've learned
that 'scanning' might ease our anxiety, as it helps us envision
as many different outcomes as possible, which reduces the potential
for unpleasant surprise or shock. In essence, when we prepare
for the worst and determine how we'll handle that,
we believe we can handle anything else that comes up, which
gives us a sense of safety. By the way, fast-forwarding impulses
also creep into our relationships--which gets us into a whole lot
that the future is uncharted territory, so it naturally contains
elements that are unknown and unfamiliar to us. Whether we've struggled
with panic attacks or not, when we project our focus beyond today,
anxiety will always be invoked, because
we can't predict precisely how 'tomorrow' is going to look or feel
to us! Of course we can speculate, but Life doesn't allow us to
completely envision much beyond this present moment in time--and
would you really want to know everything that's up ahead, even if
you could? The upshot is, while we're trying to mentally choreograph
our way through this unknown terrain to help ourselves feel more
"in-control," this is ironically what triggers our anxiety!
Seems pretty self-defeating, doesn't it? Alas, there's a big difference
between planning ahead to try and bring about the best outcome,
and living in the future to try and control it. Learning
new tools that empower you and replace these impulses, will banish
the "what-if's?" from your psychic
to stay in the moment and tolerate difficult feelings,
means letting go of platitudes you may have learned in childhood,
or gotten from self-help books that used to help you cope.
Anxiety-provoking tendencies will vanish forever, when you begin
to experience your feelings, and start to trust that you can hang
out with 'em and survive! This is when intense, uncontrollable
feelings (panic sensations) will quickly dissipate.
no denying that this is an extremely multi-layered issue, but we
tend to learn about our emotions (or the lack of 'em) from
our parents. Still, gaining access to a full repertoire of different
feelings (both light and dark, positive and negative) and experiencing
them without self-judgment, keeps us out of the panic zone.
Judeo-Christian principles strongly oppose this view. They want
us to "turn the other cheek" when we've been wronged or
violated, and instill in us the belief that darker thoughts
and feelings are evil. Some religions take this
even further, and neutralize the distinction between thoughts
and actions. According to them, it's as vile a sin to think
something mean or hateful, as to carry out a heinous act against
another. From where I sit, this is a form of mind control that undermines
our emotional and physical health--and that's just plain
folks apparently feel the need to ask about my religious or spiritual
orientation~ presumably, because I have an irreverent streak. To
them, I state that God and I have an intimate, long-term relationship.
I'm not religious, but I'm never working alone.
I'm just the conduit for this healing.
very important to note, that whatever material is not 'permitted'
by your conscious mind during waking hours, will be processed by
your subconscious mind during sleep. Recurring dreams and/or
disturbing nightmares can easily result from repressed thoughts
and feelings, which lay the groundwork for sleep disorders. A lack
of deep, restful sleep referred to as REM (rapid eye movement) or
dream-sleep, reduces the availability of brain chemicals
that are supposed to calm and soothe you! Any shortage of these
neurochemicals can prompt depression and anxiety. Exploring the
meaning behind these dreams helps us make conscious connections
to discarded/buried material that could actually be feeding
your Panic Monster.
from religious convictions and childhood events that paved the way
for panic issues, our parents may have insisted we yield to their
notion of Who we should become. This can have
us discarding various personality facets, and abandoning desires
or goals that have special meaning to us. When aspirations must
be surrendered, it wounds our spirit and gives birth to inner emptiness.
Self-medicating our emptiness or anxiety, may take the
form of compulsive over-eating,
or addictions to other substances and/or behaviors. Rediscovering
our passions and reviving them, helps
us mend, and create a life worth living.
I HAVE INHERITED THIS?"
but you could have acquired anxiety as a fetus, in-utero. While
somewhat less common, many of us have suffered from generalized
anxiety our entire lives. This type of anxiety issue isn’t attached
to specific fears or phobias, or prompted by panic attacks. It feels
more like an underlying sense of danger or lack of safety that pervades
every realm of our existence, as far back as we can remember.
suggests that a pregnant woman transmits all of her emotions to
her fetus, Thus, if an expectant mother experiences generalized
or specific anxiety, such as fear of miscarrying or threat/danger
from something or someone in her environment, these sensations are
co-experienced and readily absorbed by her unborn baby. This acquired
condition (I call it 'womb anxiety') is often reinforced throughout
his childhood. When the mother is a Nervous Nelly or worry wort,
or she's over-protective/enmeshed
with her child, she routinely transmits to him/her that the world
is an unsafe and dangerous place. This behavior inhibits her child's
individuation/separation or launching phase and disrupts
his autonomous growth, so he can never gain a healthy sense of independence.
This 'developmental detour' derails his capacity to confidently
navigate personal and professional adult challenges, which cements
his feelings of disempowerment and anxiety.
this disturbance is quasi-inherited in his mother's womb, it has
typically been exacerbated by environmental influences that programmed
the panic sufferer to make his/her natural feelings "not matter."
Once this difficulty has been resolved, one's panic symptoms are
worked with clients who've learned how to trigger anxiety,
because it helps them get out of bed in the morning, show up on
time at work, attend to their kids needs, etc. Their fear of failing
to perform these tasks, forces the adrenal glands to flood their
body with adrenaline, which literally functions like high-octane
fuel, which helps them push past feelings of tiredness, deadness,
depression, emptiness, etc. Even just the notion of letting go of
their anxiety 'motivator' can inspire a sense of terror in these
folks, because they're sure they'll experience a full system shut-down,
and cease being able to function "normally" without it.
So in essence, their dependence on anxiety to enliven and activate
them has unwittingly become a coping mechanism they've held onto
for dear life. This reflex can be dismantled and eliminated.
are all attracted to "quick fixes." Mastering behavioral
techniques and/or taking medication can help quiet our symptoms,
but neither eradicates panic tendencies that can re-emerge
during various life events or developmental transitions. More importantly,
these methods fail to touch on very critical underlying issues,
like fear of confrontation, diminished self-worth, and abandonment
concerns that drove your feelings underground, and spawned
this anxiety issue in the first place.
an adult, you're finally at the helm of your own ship--so whatever
choices you make concerning this issue, must serve your
peace of mind and personal orientation. You might decide to take
anti-anxiety meds, or drugs such as Celexa or Lexapro that manage
anxiety and depression. Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors
can alleviate obsessive-compulsive issues as well, but may inhibit
your libido and ability to achieve orgasm. Obsessive-Compulsive
Disorder or OCD, is just a reflexive
control issue you may have acquired while shutting-down
emotional awareness. This horribly distressing outcome results from
bypassing emotions and instincts to the extent that you've dissociated
from vital feelings and senses in your body, and you're literally
functioning on 'automatic pilot.' To put this metaphorically, when
you're asleep at the wheel, your need
for a system that can assist you in feeling safer
or more secure, is enormously heightened.
an effective/life-enhancing alternative to options already mentioned,
we will end this panic, rather than just managing the symptoms
of your 'dis-ease.' This approach mitigates your need for various
medications, eliminates panic triggers and enriches every aspect
of your existence. You'll learn how to identify and respond
to your feelings, rather than analyzing or burying them.
As you gain enhanced verbal skills and begin letting go of self-defeating
patterns, your lifestyle and relationships can become healthier
and more productive. On average, even Agoraphobia can be
healed within eight weeks. Regardless of the means you
choose to overcome this issue, I truly hope you're symptom-free
very soon. In the interim, try and remember; if you’re not living
fully with all your feelings, anxiety and panic will stop
you from fully living.
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