Breathe…in…out…in…out…breathe. Seems simple doesn’t it? To…just breathe. God made it so our bodies will automatically breathe without our intentional thought…without having to tell ourselves to breathe in and out…to breathe that life-giving breath.
In 2002, I was diagnosed with Clinical Depression and PTSD (Post traumatic Stress Disorder) and a Panic Disorder Without Agoraphobia. What this all means is that I have a chemical imbalance in my brain that causes my depression. Also some traumatic event in my life has caused me to endure flashbacks and severe stress which is the PTSD. (This is also a disorder that a lot of military veterans are diagnosed with after coming back from war, and let me just say right now that whatever I have went through in my life will never compare with what our military men have endured.) The third thing, the panic disorder without agoraphobia, means that my body will start to panic or have a panic attack when confronted with certain things in my life. The “without agoraphobia” just means that I can go outside or open spaces without fear or panic.
When I have a panic attack, my whole world spins out of control. I can’t breathe. I can’t think. Sometimes I start to choke due to lack of breath. I get weak and shake uncontrollably. More often than not, I have severe chest pains, and I have literally passed out before. Seems silly, doesn’t it? I wish it were just silliness, but it’s a very real thing. I have to literally tell myself to breathe…to calm down…breathe in…breathe out….in…out…
I have a charm bracelet that I cherish very much with all of my interests hanging from it. One of the charms is just a little flat silver oval that says “breathe” and a tiny brown stone hangs from the bottom. Believe it or not, I have had to hold onto this charm to remind myself to breathe. To breathe. To breathe. And admittedly, that tiny little charm has helped me keep a level head, because if you can control your breathing, you can come out of an attack a little easier.
One time I was in therapy talking through an extremely bad part of my life with the therapist and I felt like the room was getting smaller. The room was caving in and everything was getting fuzzy and black around the edges. I knew I was panicking and I wanted to run. I had never panicked in front of anyone but my husband before. I reached down and grabbed my bracelet charm and just the feel of something solid reminded me to breathe and exhale. The room went back to its original size. I had found something to calm me and I realized that sometimes we do just need a physical reminder to take in oxygen and not hold our breath.
The God-given gift of breathing has to have a reminder…ironic isn’t it? But it’s true. To those of us who suffer with anxiety…it’s very true.
- 10 Ways to get over a Panic Attack (fieldsoflife.wordpress.com)