Are you emotionally tied to your goals?

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?

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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.

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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?

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Panic Disorder: You are NOT alone!

Okay, WARNING!! I’m going to be completely transparent and it really makes me feel a little nervous but if I could help just ONE person get the help needed today, that is well worth the nervousness!!

So, backing up, I know that I’ve shared before that I suffer from panic disorder and I just touched on the surface of it. It started when I was 19 years old and I’m not completely sure of the reason that started it, but I had just gone through a major emotional time of my life with an engagement and awful break-up with some deep rooted reasons that shook my world.

I was a wreck. I felt alone most of the time, even though I was surrounded by family and friends. It was a time that taught me what it feels like to be crushed and needing to rebuild on faith alone.

 

So, that is when my panic disorder began, to the best of my knowledge.

I recall the first time it hit, I was lying in bed, trying to fall asleep…and then all of a sudden, I could NOT breathe. I could not catch my next breath. It was like with every inhale, I would will to “catch up” to my next breath…

But. I. Just. Could. Not.

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It was the worst feeling I had ever known. I KNEW that if I couldn’t catch my breath, I would die. And the feelings only increased as my panic began to rise. I ran to my mom who tried to talk me down; as I paced around the room, working feverishly to catch my breath and just calm down.

I don’t remember how long that first panic lasted but it felt like an eternity.

And it didn’t end there. It would hit at random, some nights I was able to relax and fall asleep peacefully. Some nights, I would be awakened to the awful feeling of no breath. The cycle was tortuous and at that time there were few resources to turn to. I was alone, nobody could understand the enormity of the feeling as it crushed down onto my chest…and paralyzed me from anything else.

I would recite to myself during the day, that it was only episodes and these episodes would pass. I heard from doctors that I wouldn’t die from this. I remember being furious at the non-caring comment made by one doctor whom my mom took me to see. He diagnosed me with MVP. That is a heart murmur issue and he put me on heart medication.

I knew that this was not the cause of my episodes but when my mom explained to him what I would do and say in the midst of these panics, he just blatantly said, “She WON’T die. She just has to relax”…

As with any issues we face, life goes on and we have to deal with the ups and downs whether we like it or not. I did that and kept my panic hidden as best as I could. After I had my first two children, I went through another enormous roller coaster of emotions and thought I could never recover from it. It was at this time the panics came back with a vengeance.

Tortuous. Severe. Debilitating. My husband had no idea what was happening and in his lack of knowledge, made me feel it was “all in my head”. That, in and of itself, was devastating. I know now that he didn’t understand how awful that felt to me but at the time it was like I was on island all alone with nobody to turn to.

After my third child was born, I formed almost an “abnormal” attachment to him and would just sit and hold him and feel “safe”. I remember anytime I would leave the house and if panic would strike, I would focus on his face in my mind and breathe until I calmed down.

This was the first sign that I ever experienced that “maybe” just “maybe” I had a fighting chance of getting past this. I had no idea how it would be possible, because by now, I had almost come to the conclusion that there was some “ticking time bomb” always waiting to go “off” in my body at any given time and I just had to deal with it all. I had tried many different ways to handle it. Lucinda Bassett (is that her name?) created a cassette tape program with workbooks which I ordered from the radio advertisement that I heard it over. This helped me for a time but never for good. I figured that I was the exception to the rule that it would ever be “over”. But knowing that there was finally a “title” for the disorder was a weight lifted off of my shoulders, after almost 20 years!

In all stories that I’ve heard and all the studies I have researched regarding this issue, there is never ONE way to overcome this problem and the resolution for each person varies. Some can learn breathing techniques to help them overcome the panicky feelings, that didn’t work so well for me. Some have help in medications and therapy. I had one therapy session and the doctor was a bit surprised I had never spoken to anyone years earlier and put me on a low dosage medication to allow me to sleep and control the issues. But even taking the medicine caused me to panic. I found that just splitting the dosage in half and taking as needed has allowed me to overcome the chest clutching breathing issues and sleep without being torn out of my restful slumber to the gripping feeling of being held underwater.

I know to some, this sounds incredibly simple to overcome. I remember feeling embarrassed to talk about it to anyone, which only makes it worse, in my opinion. I hope that opening up and just letting this out can help someone who is feeling alone and crippled by this problem. Seek out someone to help you; whether it is a trusted and caring family member, doctor or therapist. Get the help that makes YOU feel at ease; and not what anyone else tells you is the “answer”. You will know. And if all else fails, you are not alone. There are many out there who share this problem and have never talked openly about it so it could easily be hidden in people you already know and love and are close to.

I am tired of being held hostage to feeling like we have to be “normal” and never speak openly about any issues that we may have. It’s time to just be ourselves and I know it will only allow more people to open up and share their own issues…which is step 1 to a solution in any shape or form.

God Bless you and you are not alone.

My Panic Disorder; Part 1

So, where do I start?

It seems like it’s always been an issue with me; panic and anxiety.  I remember the issues starting at the age of 18, but not sure if it was any earlier.

The earliest memories I have of my anxiety was when I’d try to fall asleep at night and I’d wake up in a full panic; sweating and out of breath. I would try to “catch” my next breath but it seemed like I would run out of oxygen.  This would only make me feel more out of control and I would begin to worry that I was going to die. I would begin to move around to get out of the feeling and this would only increase the issues.

My mom at that time was really worried about my episodes. I would be inconsolable and fight any help from anyone and wouldn’t want anybody to look at me as I was in the height of panic.  I called 911 a few times and was rushed to the emergency room; only to be told later that I was fine.

It’s so difficult to try to explain the feelings and sensations and I know that those of you who have experienced this issue will understand completely.  The irony is, that when I felt “good” and think back to the previous episode; I imagined that it must have been something I could have handled better.

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But the next episode would hit and all rationale thoughts and feelings would be out the door.

The worst part of it all, was that there were no explanations for my episodes at that time.  I remember visiting the doctor multiple times and explaining these issues and they would sit there, puzzled, looking at me with no help for what it could have been. That would make me feel more anxious; not knowing and thinking the worst each time. How did they know I wasn’t going to die when they didn’t even know what was wrong with me???

One doctor sent me to a heart specialist and they have me an EKG. From that test, they concluded I had a heart murmur and put me on medication to help me.

That did nothing for my episodes. I would go into full panics and then wonder what was going on when I was clearly taking care of my “heart issues”.  Being 19 at that time and tired of being run around; I stopped taking my medication. That made my mom angry and scared that I had just stopped taking medication that was prescribed to “help” me.

It turns out I didn’t have MVP. (not “most valuable player” but “mitral valve prolapse”) lol

It was through my years of searching for an answer that I began to stumble upon the mere idea that I might have a panic disorder. When I was pregnant with my second child, I remember hearing a radio commercial of a woman who was explaining point-blank my mysterious “issues.” Could this be it? I wondered.

She was selling a program with cassette tapes and workbooks that was meant to “heal” your anxiety issues and allow you to live “episode” free.  I ordered that plan asap!

And, it did help me to understand the many reasons that were responsible for my anxiety. I realized it went so much deeper than just a “quick fix” and although I knew at that time what was causing my stress, I was in for another many years before I finally got to the bottom of it and able to live a “normal” life without ever worrying about dealing with another episode again.

I will share more in my next post about what I did to get help and how I finally overcame this powerful hold over my emotional and psychological state of panic.

Tell me below if you suffer or suffered from any form of this or if you know someone who has. My reason for sharing this now is to help anyone who may be fighting the battle alone and not knowing how to get help. You are not alone and it is treatable.