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« Panic Attacks: Debugging the fear, by Rachel Green »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute. She has used meditation to cure herself of panic attacks. 

Debugging the fear of panic attacks

I never imagined I would need to learn about anxiety management for myself, but some years ago, I developed really bad panic attacks.

I would wake up at 3 o'clock in the morning with an incredible sense of dread accompanied by violent adrenalin symptoms. These included a rapid heart rate, nausea, violent heart pounding, profuse sweating, hyper-ventilating, and diarrhoea ... the lot. A full blown, fire-storm of anxiety. I was also tortured by fear. Sound familiar?

It is hard for someone who has not had panic attacks to understand this. If you’ve had them you’ll know what I mean, and I know many of you with social anxiety get them frequently.

I used to lie awake, desperate for the rooster to crow, as then I knew I had made it to dawn. However, they came during the day too. I lived in a permanent fog of fatigue. I would feel haggard, tired and washed-out all day.

I developed fear and panic about having the panic attacks. I became frightened of the anxiety itself. Terrified of it, at times. I was always on guard, on the look-out for any small sign that would signal another one. I came to hate the anxiety, I loathed it, and I fought it. I wanted more than anything for it to go away.

No, I wasn't anxious about anything. It was all without any apparent reason. They arrived "out of the blue".

I decided that it was no good sitting around being frightened of panic attacks or anxiety and that I would do whatever it took to get rid of them. I was not prepared to just sit and wait, nor to consider the possibility that this was how I would be for the rest of my life. No way!

Of all that I did to cure myself, there was one very important step that stood out above all the others. It was the key to my anxiety management and freedom from panic attacks.

I stopped the fear of panic attacks.

It was the fear of the panic attacks that was the worst problem. Not only did I have anxiety but also I had added an extra layer of fear on top of fear. I came to fear the very anxiety itself.

It was a bit like going to a fast food outlet and instead of ordering “A bacon and egg burger: The lot” asking for “An anxiety and fear burger: The lot” and “Could you add in an extra round of fear, please, no sauce, thanks.”

“Fries?” Do I want fries? “Of course, I’ll fry myself in fear. Thanks!”

I knew it was the fear I had to overcome. Why be so frightened of anxiety? I was making it into an even bigger monster. Trying to avoid the anxiety and panic attacks had not made them disappear. In fact, I think it made them worse.

Over time I learnt to stop hating them. I stopped trying to get rid of them. I started to accept them and was friendlier towards them. When I tightened around them, fought them, battled against the anxiety - it stayed and grew stronger.

I also used meditation to cure my panic attacks.

The meditations I used are on my MP3 recordings "Happy not hassled" if you want to use them too. I talk you through four different kinds of meditations so you know exactly what to do and explain how to use the meditations to manage your emotions and reduce anxiety. I recommend them to you.

MP3s $29 (US) Add to Cart


And ... I sent loving-kindness and caring to my panic attacks.

I know it sounds odd - but the acceptance really helped. When I sent loving-kindness to them I wasn't giving in I was simply stopping the huge fearsome fight with them.

I said things such as, "Hello panic attacks how are you today? May you be happy today." I told them I accepted them.

Sending loving-kindness to my anxiety really helped.

When I was kind and caring to my anxiety it eased, relaxed and left.

I was no longer scared when I got a symptom. If I noticed my stomach had churned I just noticed my stomach had churned. I stopped adding the fear, I no longer said “Oh no, my stomach moved, I am going to have a panic attack, oh no that is awful, I can’t cope, arrgh ...”

My stomach churned, that’s all.

If I felt anxiety arising, I just said to myself, “Oh look, here’s some anxiety”.

I have learnt to feel far more comfortable with my emotions and no longer to fear anxiety. It is just anxiety. It is the fear of the anxiety that is the biggest problem.

Once I let go of the fear, the panic attacks let go of me.

Do you need to let go of the fear of anxiety too? It is an essential part in successful anxiety management.

The meditations I used to cure my panic attacks included one on loving-kindness. A recording of this is on my MP3s "Happy not hassled" if you want to use it too. I talk you through it so you know exactly what to do and explain how to use this and other meditations to manage your emotions and reduce anxiety. I recommend them to you.

MP3s $29 (US) Add to Cart


NB: Rachel is not a psychologist nor a psychiatrist. This article is for your information only based on her personal experiences and does not constitute individual advice. Everyone is different. It is not provided as an alternative to obtaining professional advice from an appropriately qualified practitioner. Please seek the help you need.