Go Ahead, Have a Panic Attack

A panic attack won’t kill you

The worst thing about having a panic attack is that it makes you believe you are going to die. Emergency room physicians are very familiar with patients showing up thinking they are having a heart attack, but after a bundle of very expensive tests, the diagnosis is anxiety or panic attack.

Remember the first thing I told you in this series of posts? ANXIETY IS A LIAR. The truth is, a panic attack can’t kill you; it just makes you think you’re going to die.

My suggestion? GO AHEAD, HAVE A PANIC ATTACK. Sounds crazy and counterintuitive, doesn’t it? All I ask is that you hear me out.

If you’re anxiety spikes and none of the previous suggestions I’ve made have worked, you and I both know a panic attack is sure to follow. What everyone does in that situation is grit their teeth, tense their body and silently scream, “I am not going to have a panic attack! I am not going to have a panic attack!” 

Unfortunately, this will only make the panic attack more certain and more severe, because your body is already on the cusp of the Flight/Fight/Freeze mode and you stiffening your body and screaming in your head will trigger the release of adrenalin. When that happens, you are done for. The Panic Train is going to run you over.

It’s much like standing waist-deep in the ocean and bracing yourself for the incoming waves. You tell yourself, “I’m not going to let these waves knock me down.” But, eventually, you will lose that battle.

To lessen the severity of the panic attack, tell yourself these things:
1. I’m going to have a panic attack.
2. A panic attack won’t kill me.
3. I’ve had panic attacks before and survived every one of them. I will survive this one, too.
4. A panic attack only lasts 10-20 minutes. Only 10-20 minutes! 
5. I’m going face the beach and body surf to the shore. Then, I’ll get out, rest, catch my breath and get on with my day.

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