JJ Heller on overcoming fear and panic attacks.
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Several years ago, someone gave me a 15-week CD and workbook programme called "Attacking Anxiety and Depression" by a woman named Lucinda Bassett. It was REALLY helpful for me, but the programme costs several hundred dollars (Amazon has the best prices). If that's out of your price range, she wrote a book that summarises a lot of the concepts in the programme. The book is called "From Panic to Power" and it has tons of practical tools to help you overcome panic. The title is a little self-help-y, but there's a lot of good content in the book.
Lucinda talks about this in the book, but another that really helped me when I was starting to panic was to tell myself, "I know what this is. This is just a panic attack. It doesn't hurt, and it always goes away." She explains that the panic attacks will only go away when you're not afraid of them anymore (which is really frustrating sometimes!).
I eventually came to a point when I would have a panic attack and instead of being afraid of it, I was more annoyed that I had to wait for it to pass. From that point, the panic attacks began happening less and less until they eventually stopped. It's interesting to note that Lucinda's 15-week programme was originally an infomercial. If I had known this at the start, I don't think I would've pursued it, but I'm very glad I did! The Lord used the programme to bring a tremendous amount of healing to me.
Anxiety and panic are still a part of my life, but I have the tools to face them now. I'm in a better place now than I have been in years. When I feel myself slipping into fear, I tell the people whom I love and trust, and then I ask for prayer. The key is to not let yourself get isolated in your fear. Isolation only makes you feel more trapped and panicked. It's REALLY hard to admit what's going on with you to your friends and family, but it's really important!
Remember to find at least one safe person in your life who you can be completely vulnerable with regarding panic (preferably more). I'm so thankful to say that I haven't had a full-blown panic attack for years. God is so good!
I hope all of this information is helpful for you. If you're suffering from symptoms associated with panic, please know that you're not the only one experiencing these feelings, and you're not a bad Christian.
When I was in the darkest time of my panic disorder, I was having multiple panic attacks every day (by the way, I've also heard people name them panic episodes instead of attacks because your body isn't really attacking you). I actually have very few memories of those years because I was so focused on myself and what my body was feeling. I'm choosing to give myself grace for that, but at the same time I'm sad about all of the beauty, laughter and adventures I missed out on.
A life of fear is not the kind of life God wants for me and it's not what He wants for you. God wants you to live a full life. That means it will be full of comfort and risk; adventure and monotony; joy and fear. Through it all, we need to remember that each day is a gift we did nothing to earn.
May you feel His perfect peace.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
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