A panic attack occurs, amongst other reasons, because the one faces a feared situation. The typical symptoms include feeling dizzy, fear of dying or going crazy, choking sensation, breathlessness, palpitation, trembling and tingling sensations. These are just about half of the things that could happen. The horrors of these attacks live strongly on in the memories of many who experience it. The victims then get so used to these experiences they live in fearful expectation of the experiences, without even experiencing the actual panic attack. Their minds have learnt a new terrible lesson in fear now. It is because of this hypersensitivity to a fresh occurrence that a panic disorder has also been called a fear of fear. (You may read further literature for more on this tormenting mental phenomenon.)
About four weeks ago, I began to experience some of the typical symptoms of a panic attack. Coincidentally, I started experiencing it as I was reading about the condition, though there were other factors that contributed. It soon became so regular that, within two weeks, I also started fearfully anticipating new attacks.
One afternoon, I read a Bible passage -2 Thessalonians 3: 16 -“And may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all (NKJV).” (It would be really great if you could check out other versions.) As I thought calmly about this text, and others which also spoke about the peace God wanted AND had ready for those who desired it, I actually found myself settling down peacefully. It was like a covering over my soul/heart/mind (whichever school of thought you like), which prevented the palpitations from seizing my heart (in my chest). This peace required absolutely no psychological effort from me. It was just there, very much like it was not under my control. Further, it did not seem to be affected by behavioural methods, like breathing and relaxation exercises. But I found that my mind seemed to automatically “beg” for panic attacks despite this peace shielding me from any actual ones. I was so used to the attacks that my mind had a new reflex of its own. But, just when the actual panic would start, the peace would stop the development of the palpitations etc. So, my mind “wanted” the panic attacks, but that peace wouldn’t budge. I even got kicks out of teasing my mind by imagining me having the attack without really having it. The safety I felt made me daring.
This went on for about five days. Soon, the defence began to wear thin. Occasionally, when the anticipation would come, I would feel a little thumping in the chest. Please, remember that this anticipation of a panic attack could be distressful in itself. It seemed I could decide to fall back to that peaceful truth; but it also seemed my mind, which had gotten so used to the panic attack, could put up a strong resistance. So the times I let go to the truth of the scriptures, I still felt that resistance in my mind telling me I just couldn’t get over the attacks that easy; and the times I gave in to the budding fear/panic, I would still easily feel confident that I was above the attack and could easily stop it at any stage –even as I watched it progress to full-blown panic. I felt both. At the same time. Every time.
Two days to this writing, I had gotten used to the panic attack again. Funny thing was that I welcomed it –much like one would welcome an ex-lover one never got over, but missed more crazily with each passing day away. I felt at peace with this monster eating away at me with insanely unholy appetite.
Now, as you might guess, this writing took over a day to compose.
By today, which is about one week since starting this writing, I had gotten sick of the monkey games I was playing with myself. Funny I dare to say I was playing games with myself. Well, it’s not my fault (so to speak)! If I hadn’t found a quick sure solution in God’s truth (in the Bible), I would have had a “comedorrible” –that would be the hybrid of a comedy and a horror –time treating myself. And please, for the stranger to the world of the psychologist or psychiatrist, you have to know that it is a nightmare trying to heal oneself. It is not as easy as a surgeon removing a lipoma from his own thigh. We know a lot about the wonders and manoeuvres of the mind. We have been astute students of our minds (and this mind-monitor I have running contributed to my case, likely). We have analysed its strengths and weaknesses to a good extent. And we have developed psychic skills to keep it running and do little everyday troubleshootings. Now, if despite all these, our minds go awry, then fixing it would be as easy as fixing an exploding sun. And drugs are not a miracle cure for all psychological ills.
So, off I ran into the world of scriptural truths again, A LITTLE like a drug addict seeking a “quick fix”; and as I dwelt on these truths again, I began to find release. This time, the release was much easier.
I am completely over it now.
Part of what the Jesus Christ of the Bible came to do was to murder the old man. This is that evil core that is present right from birth. Our longest friend. It was being woven in as our minds and personalities developed. Some easily recognise it when they show acts of stark hatred and “easy” passions. For some, it is more subtle in the acts of “good” they try to do for selfish or misguided reasons such as earning God’s favour, obtaining good in return, cleansing an evil conscience from horrible things they had done before, or a good public image etc. However, this old force has spent so long with our minds that we feel a special bond with it. If we don’t give in to its darkness, it tears and raves, and we are thrown into disarray. So, we allow it stay; it allows us live with a semblance of sanity. It’s much worse for those in whom it is subtle. They don’t seem to notice the oddness of their motives for the “right” things they do. So, they feel at peace, in the arms of this monster which has eaten away at their insight/sharp senses. Rid them of this monster and they lose the drive for their “noble” deeds and intents. A kind of truce!
Now, after Christ has finished his work, some of these who live in Christ still see some manifestations akin to the old man. (I am not after justifying any school of thought –whether the old man has been done with forever, or is to be killed anew everyday.) Point: this old force has been made utterly powerless. However, our minds miss this old man, this old way of living, the impulses etc.
Compare this to my story above, making the old force something like my panic disorder. (I am not saying the panic disorder IS an old force). Notice my mind had gotten so used to the panic attack it almost begged for it, despite the unpleasantness. Please, observe also how it still felt like I had the disorder (because of how my mind acted) when I was already free in those few days after reading the Bible text.
On the other hand, my experience might be attributable largely to psychological manifestations. I am keeping a bit of an open mind here. So, any student or enthusiast of psychology or psychiatry who wishes to indulge him/herself might contact me for clarifications. But if you seek clarifications for other reasons besides the above, just get in touch with me please.
- How to Handle Panic Attacks (everydayhealth.com)
- The Leading Causes of Panic Attacks in the Elderly (assistedlivingtoday.com)
- Women and Panic Attacks (everydayhealth.com)