My first panic attack happened at work. I was in my office alone and out of the blue I felt like an elephant was on my chest.
Having never felt this way before, my immediate reaction was panic.
And that first panic attack turned into months of FEARING that feeling again and that just made the panic attacks more frequent.
I did therapy, tried medication and eventually things returned to normal-ish.
Fast forward 10 years and an incident triggered it again. It wasn’t messing around this time! I became agoraphobic, started having regular panic attacks and developed a crippling fear of being alone.
My mom had to move in with us so my husband could go to work. I could barely walk our dogs around the block without having a panic attack.
My life quickly became a list of COULDN’TS : couldn’t go to the grocery store, couldn’t go to work, couldn’t watch tv because it overwhelmed me, couldn’t see friends, couldn’t drive, couldn’t run…my life stopped.
But just when I thought I’d completely lost my life, my cousin told me about Dare.
It sounds dramatic to say it was life changing but there is no other way to describe what it has done for me.
Within two months of being diagnosed with a panic disorder and agoraphobia, I was on a plane heading to Ireland from Canada for two weeks.
This was a trip we’d planned for over a year and my stubbornness had officially kicked in – I wasn’t missing it.
I had my Rapid Relief DARE audios, the Dare book highlighted to the max and I took a leap of faith. It wasn’t all easy, but being forced to push outside my comfort zone every single day rocketed me to a whole new level of confidence.
I went back to work, I started driving, and began seeing friends again. I realize now I started to coast after that.
I’d gotten enough of my life back that I didn’t focus on practicing as much and instead just got on with my newly safe day-to-day.
I suffered a fairly significant setback a few months later. Things that were easy became hard again.
That scared and annoyed me in equal measure! So, I joined the Dare Bootcamp and threw myself into recovery again.
I was back to daily challenges which meant I couldn’t just stay in my safety zone, I had to do things that scared me.
This is when Barry’s words, “The only way out is through’, finally and truly resonated with me.
The more I allowed myself to feel uncomfortable and I pushed myself to do things I avoided, the more confidence I had that I could handle them.
This was absolutely key – I had to stop avoiding, wishing away and fearing the sensations.
Instead, I fully embraced everything anxiety had to throw at me and carried on with what I was doing.
Today, I drive wherever I want to go and don’t think about it. I take the subway. I go to the dentist, get my haircut, and I’m back to traveling the world.
Do I always feel chill, hell no! Sometimes I feel downright terrible.
But those feelings are RARE these days because as soon as my ‘what ifs’ start, my brain immediately diffuses them with a solid ‘who cares, EVEN IF you have a panic attack or feel anxious you can still get on a plane, sit in a meeting, take the subway!’
But until I had done all those things I was avoiding and survived all the scary sensations, I couldn’t really tell my brain with confidence that I was going to be ok.
I had to do all those things so I had evidence to show my anxiety that I wasn’t afraid of it anymore.
Recovery is possible. We don’t have to live with or manage anxiety.
Once you have fully committed to learning and implementing the Dare steps, I can say I’m living PROOF that you can recover from anxiety.
It’s hard work but nothing could be more rewarding than getting your life back. What’s next for me?
I’m flying to Australia this fall to see my brother and his family with my most faithful and strong safe person – ME!