“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”
When my first panic attack struck I had no idea what was going on.
When I began to feel more and more anxious just doing normal everyday things, I didn’t know what was happening to me.
All I knew was that something was wrong.
I thought I was losing my mind, going insane and that I’d never feel normal again.
I no longer feel that way.
In fact when I look back now, I even wonder if some of the things I went through ever happened to me.
But they definitely did.
It has taken me a long time to get to where I am now.
I believe that if I’d known in those early days what I do now, then I wouldn’t have had to suffer for so long.
Maybe I wouldn’t have even succumbed.
I’ll never know.
All I do know is this:
The lack of understanding of what I was going through made the whole experience ten times worse.
I was never taught or told about anxiety and panic, but I can understand why.
Who wants to talk to a child or teenager about the troubles of the mind.
We’d rather just hope they will never have to find out.
The problem is, if they do, then it’s often too late.
So here are 13 things I wish I’d known from the very beginning.
Here are the 13 things every anxiety and panic attack sufferer needs to be told…….
1) You are not alone
Everyone feels anxious from time to time.
Millions of people around the world sufferer with frequent anxiety and panic attacks.
It’s likely there are several people in your life right now who either had or are having problems with anxiety and panic.
You just don’t know it.
When ever I speak to friends and family about it I’m always amazed at the number of times I’ve been told that they’ve felt the same and you’ll often find it’s the people you’d least expect.
No one is immune, even those who seem to exude calmness and confidence.
People just become very good at hiding it, I expect you’re no different.
So always remember this:
You are not alone.
Everyday people all around you are feeling exactly the same.
We’re all in this together.
2) It will get better, you can recover
Can I promise you’ll recover?
Is it possible for everyone to recovery?
Even those who have found themselves at the deepest depths of their anxiety and despair have been able to become well again.
You can do it too.
Never ever believe you are stuck like this.
Every case is unique, you’re an individual and your anxiety is specific to you.
That said, the process to be well again is the same for all, you just have to open your mind and let it in.
That is what this blog is all about.
Knowledge, understanding and taking action.
Finding what works for you.
3) Never be ashamed of your anxiety, it does not define you
Anxiety and panic attacks fall under the category of mental health.
Just about the biggest single stigma of all.
You are you, you’re who you are, where ever you might be on your path right now.
Never be ashamed of that, because acceptance of self is key.
To be ok with the fact you’re somewhere you don’t want to be is one of the most important steps you can take.
It allows you to proceed in spite of the fear, because you’re now ready for what you have to do.
It allows you to become courageous.
Don’t worry about people judging you because anxiety and panic are part of mental health.
You’ll actually find most people are actually very understanding.
For those who do judge, don’t return the favour and judge them back, the truth is, they just don’t understand.
You are not your anxiety.
You are not your panic.
You’re still you, you’ve just got lost along the way, as many people do.
4) You cannot forcefully remove anxiety and panic from your mind
I had days when I felt so bad I just wanted to bang my head against a wall to try and knock the anxiety and feelings of panic from my mind.
I would sit there shouting at myself inside my head, telling it to stop, to just leave me alone.
The more I tried to force it from my mind the more it grew.
By giving it so much time and respect I was giving it the fuel it needed to survive.
It was taking over my every waking thought and action.
Never give your anxiety or panic any respect.
It does not deserve it.
Every time you sit there and try to mentally fight it, you will lose.
All you are doing is subconsciously telling yourself that you will always feel this way.
You must stop adding to your stress by trying to fight it and constantly checking how you are feeling.
5) Your life is what your thoughts make it
You live inside your head.
You and the world only exist because of your thoughts, feelings and sensations.
This means you can make the world and your life what ever you want it to be.
But you have to choose to make it good, to make it better and to feel well again.
It’s not the external circumstances which affect how you feel.
It’s the way you interpret them and how you to react to them which dictates your thoughts, feelings and mood.
Anxiety and panic will try and warp and twist what you think and believe, but you don’t have to let them.
6) You must face your fears, not avoid them
Daily fear is a gut wrenching sensation which can alter who you are and what you do.
But if you let it make your decisions for you, it wins, and it will only grow stronger.
Avoidance is not the answer.
The more you avoid the less you do and the greater and more varied your fears will become.
I had my first panic attack stuck inside a broken down underground train.
Every train journey after that became worse and worse until I started avoiding them altogether.
The fear then spread to every imaginable scenario where I felt trapped, especially when there were lots of other people around.
Planes, lifts, fair ground rides, car washes, hairdressers, dentists.
Anywhere I had to remain and couldn’t leave, either by choice or by decorum.
I’ve chosen to face my fears, and you must do the same.
The longer you leave it, the more you avoid it, the harder it becomes.
Always remember fear is just a sensation.
It’s your thoughts, feelings and emotions all rolled into one.
You must pass through the panic to show yourself you have nothing to fear.
A panic attack cannot hurt you, it cannot kill you.
Whatever you face you will come out the other side.
7) Only you can make the difference, no one else
Living with anxiety and panic is made worse if you try and face it alone.
Help and support from friends, family and anxiety experts play a big role in feeling better.
But don’t make the mistake of believing there is someone out there who can wave a magic wand for you.
It just doesn’t work that way.
In the end it will always comes back to you.
The thoughts, feelings and emotions which cause your anxiety are in your head and yours alone.
You are the person who can make the biggest difference.
Don’t let that worry you, it means you are in control and with the right knowledge and advice you can steer your path to recovery.
8) Knowledge is key
In the beginning, anxiety and panic are the unknown.
Something new, something different, something scary and distressing.
When you have no idea what is happening to you, you will always fear the worst.
You begin to search a little, to find out what is causing you to feel the way you do.
But just understanding what anxiety and panic are is not enough.
It may put you a little more at ease, knowing that there is some science behind what you are going through.
But to feel well again you will need to delve a little deeper.
To understand how your mind works, why you’ve started to think the way you do and how it affects your feelings, sensations and emotions.
To see and believe that there is nothing wrong with you despite the physical sensations you feel.
It takes the correct knowledge to make the right choices, to understand what is right for you.
You must read, read, read, learn as much as you can.
But it must be the right stuff.
9) Recovery is not linear, it will take time
There is no switch, no reboot, no restore to factory settings for the mind.
The way your brain operates is moulded slowly by its experiences and the automatic routines it develops over time.
This means that no matter how much you want to feel better now, you must be willing to give it time.
You will also experience setbacks along the way.
Often the bad days can come out of the blue and with no real reason.
When this happens you must be able to just let it go, to not stress or worry about the way you are feeling.
This will allow you to continue making the right decisions and to keep moving in the right direction.
When you do have those bad days, just accept it is there, stop checking and caring how you feel.
Just remind yourself that you know your path will have its twists and turns, it will never be instant because the mind takes time to heal.
10) You need a purpose, something to fight for
Anxiety will try and stop you doing what you want to do.
It will try and alter your decisions
Never let it.
You must never try and fight the anxiety, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have something else to fight for.
Everyone needs a purpose in life, it gives us that reason for being.
Be it a job, a business, a sport, a hobby, being a parent or a loving husband or wife; you must find what really makes you tick.
Something that you can get behind and pour your heart and sole into.
Having a purpose, something you will continue to do despite they way you feel, shows you that your anxiety doesn’t have to limit who you can be.
Having something more important than your anxiety helps you show it no care.
It says fuck you anxiety, you’re not going to change who I am.
It enables you to realise that there are more important things in life.
It takes the spotlight away from your thoughts and feelings, because you’re too busy and focused on something else.
It helps you remove the stress from worrying, it gives your mind a rest and this helps the recovery come to you.
11) Blaming the past will not help, it will only hinder
What ever caused your anxiety or panic attacks, you must forget it.
You must move on.
To do that you need to look forward, not far, just to the day ahead and what you need to do.
Holding blame against what ever went wrong before, will not help you move forward in the way you want to.
You are where you are and acceptance of that, just like acceptance of self, is a must for you to do.
12) Get as much exercise and as much sleep as possible
Physical exercise tires both the body and the mind, but in a good way.
Doing exercise despite the way you feel it is another great way to show your anxiety no care.
Exercise has a number of benefits on the mind, it also helps you sleep better too.
Deep and restful sleep enables your brain to repair, to download and cleanse the thoughts and feelings of the day before.
During sleep your mind is given a break from the stress of anxiety, the longer it can rest for the better you will feel.
13) Your future is still what ever you want it to be
I know anxiety will not stop me doing what I want to do or becoming what I can be.
That is fact.
It is engraved upon my heart and firmly set inside my mind.
I am not going to waste the time I have just because of some thoughts, feelings and sensations.
You can do the same.
No matter where you are right now, this is not the way it has to end.
Build your body, develop your mind, start a business, have a family, do something you’d never thought you’d do.
Do them altogether and more besides.
You can still have a great life, achieve great things and most importantly be happy even while you still have anxiety by your side.
What you’ll find is that by doing this you’ll also be doing exactly what you need to do to feel better too.
Stop bowing to your anxiety, stop cowering from the panic.
Your life can still be whatever you want it to be.
Like this article?
Sign up to receive new posts directly to your inbox for FREE. Just enter your email below and click SUBMIT. We will never share your email – EVER!