It’s funny how many of us have goals we hope to reach one day (such as; losing weight, earning more money, having better relationships, etc) but end up repeating patterns endlessly that never quite add up to more in the long run. What are we doing wrong?
I had someone ask me recently about my panic disorder. If you have read my story, you know that I suffered (quite debilitating) panic disorder for over 20 years. It started at the age of 19 after a devastating break of a relationship that was unhealthy in many ways. I was young and I was quite naive, so I allowed stresses and unhappiness to pile up in my body to the point of near break down. My heart would start to pound out of my chest; I’d be unable to catch my next breath; I’d have pains shooting through my body and I was certain that I was near death. These episodes would come on suddenly and without warning. I never knew how long they would last and each time it was unclear if I would survive. I ended up in the emergency room more times than I can count and to anyone who has never experienced a panic attack; I cannot explain the enormity of the feeling during an episode. I became more and more fearful of being in public because of the sudden outbreaks; to which I had no control over. Who wants to be seen by others when they are experiencing a life or death situation in their minds and bodies?
This went on for many years; some more mild over time and some periods of immense attacks. I researched what to do and why they would come about but it was never quite clear on how to handle it the best before, during or after. I remember one doctor visit (which my sister in law drove me to because I wouldn’t allow myself behind the wheel) when I couldn’t even speak since I was trying to catch my breath and relax as much as possible. She told the doctor what had been happening and asked him what to do and what could happen. I remember his callous and uncaring remark, “Nothing will happen. She’s just panicking and she’ll either stop eventually or pass out.”
This was probably the worst thing he could have said in front of me. He didn’t even speak to me but was looking at me, quite disapproving. It was cruel and made me feel as though I was crazy. What could he have said that would have helped me better? Anything in terms of acting like he actually cared and then stating some facts that could help me begin a healing process.
Which it truly was, in the long run. I ended up seeing a psychiatrist in order to figure out how to sleep through the night. He confirmed that I was doing well on my studies into mental issues that plagued my issues and needed to relax my mind in order to sleep. I was prescribed a low dosage tricyclic antidepressant to help alleviate the anxiety and allow me to sleep through the night. I am so scared of medications that I only took half the prescribed dosage and still thought I was having a bad reaction in the first dosage.
In any case, it did help me begin to relax. I started to sleep through the night but didn’t like how it would knock me out at a certain hour every night. I wasn’t sure if this was going to be how I’d live the rest of my life but decided it was a step forward from feeling out of control. There were many times I realized I would have gone into a full blown panic attack but nothing happened and it was due to being on the medication. I dove into studying about mindfulness, becoming happier and having more clarity in the goals I wanted to achieve. Through my studies I began to realize my shift in how I believed about myself and my capabilities. I began to let go of stresses that would have plagued me in the past; trying to be ‘perfect’ in all areas, caring what others thought about me and thinking I’d have to live up to anyone else’s standards besides my own. I started to focus on the areas that were the most important to me; my well being, my family and my faith. These areas of focus began to increase and the lesser important areas began to decrease. I literally felt the shift happening within my body. After three full years of taking my medication daily, I decided I didn’t want to be tied to a drug any longer and stopped taking it.
I won’t lie and say it was an easy decision. I was scared out of my mind and kept the bottle of leftover pills in case I started to suffer anxiety issues again. But nothing happened. After a point, I then celebrated by tossing the pills into the trash and listening to my body and my mind’s cues in how I was feeling at specific times of more stress and busyness. I simply changed the way my mind and body worked and believed were ‘normal’ and in doing so, I stopped having my panic.
I’m not saying this is typical and I’m not saying everyone who suffers anxiety should take this on. I am simply stating that when we have more mental focus, more clarity and a deeper desire to create a new reality; we can do just that. It takes time and it takes patience but I am a firm believer that if we want something badly enough, there is a way to reach it. Start with knowing exactly what that goal is and how to measure it when you’ve arrived.
I hope this helps you set up your goals in any area. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight” or “I want more money”; you need to have a clear definition of the specific goal. For example, if you lose 1 lb, then you’ve technically lost weight; so is that acceptable to you? And if you earn $1.00, you now have more money so is that enough? I wouldn’t think so and if that was your goal then you’re going to realize it much easier than anyone else! 🙂 If you are looking to lose more weight or earn more money or achieve any other goal; you have to be specific about the desired outcome. It must be something you can measure and track along the way, until you actually attain what you’ve been working towards.
It will happen if you stick with it and stop making excuses about why it’s not happening if you’re repeating the same cycles. I cured my anxiety; what do you want to do?