Millions of people all over the world experience panic attacks. These occur out of the blue and involve a great sense of doom, fear and sometimes even physical symptoms. Panic attacks can be treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and/or antidepressants. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy. Would you rather take a chance with therapy and medications or continue to suffer from panic attacks while in public?
Stranger In Your Head
Some people remember when their mental illness started while others are completely oblivious to when they first began experiencing symptoms. Some don’t even know that they have a mental illness; these are the cases with zero insight. Suffering from a mental illness is not easy and many are ashamed to even recognize their newfound reality. Many are afraid of their mental illness because they do not know how to deal with it.
Fear is a natural emotion that should be extinguished as soon as possible. The longer you allow fear to marinate within your mind, the more complicated things will get in terms of your mental illness. By being afraid of your mental illness, you are preventing yourself from taking the necessary steps required to defeat the disorder at play. That’s because fear paralyzes you, preventing you from thinking clearly and getting a grip on your mental state of mind.
It can be difficult to accept your mental illness because it can truly feel like a stranger has entered your head. Your reality may start to take a different shape because you previously never experienced any symptoms. For instance, I remember the day that I experienced my first panic attack: I was in college the day after partying and standing in line at a Chinese restaurant ready to order food.
I suddenly felt a great feeling of unease while standing in line, as if fear had engulfed my entire presence. I wasn’t sure what I was experiencing because I never thought for one second that it was something mental; a panic attack didn’t even cross my mind. But in fact, that’s exactly what I was experiencing: a full-blown panic attack at the age of 19. But rather than running out, I uncomfortably stood in that line suffering while afraid of my existence. That was the longest Chinese order I ever placed.
I eventually learned that I was in fact suffering from panic disorder: I would worry about future panic attacks after experiencing a handful in public. I was afraid of my mental illness because it seemed to rock my world (in a bad way) whenever it felt like it! I felt like I was just a bystander, observing a stranger in my mind controlling my reality. I had to go on a psychiatric medication and eventually felt much better on it. Today, I no longer take any medications and I feel great because I’ve learned to take back control of my mind.
The point is that you may be afraid of your mental illness, but you have to eventually conquer your fear and take back control of your life. You cannot allow a mental illness to push you aside like a bully controlling your mind; these bullies have to be pushed aside with therapy, medication or willpower. But sometimes willpower is not enough; therefore, you need to seek psychiatric treatment and there is no shame in that!
Are you afraid of your mental illness?
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)
Fear Of The Marketplace
Imagine being trapped in your mind, not being able to function in the physical world because your confidence is handcuffed in your unconscious world. You open your eyes early morning and a flood of thoughts come rushing in: “you cannot go to the mall today”, “you will have a panic attack if you go to lecture”, “you cannot leave your home or else you will end up in the emergency room.”
This is the mental illness known as agoraphobia or the fear of being in public places. The patient’s rational is that a public place will cause humiliation or will be difficult to escape if a panic attack occurs. Usually, a person has experienced panic attacks prior to the development of agoraphobia, but the latest classification now lists agoraphobia as an independent disorder.
Some patients with agoraphobia cannot even leave their own home; stepping out of the front door brings upon a great fear. Can you imagine their quality of life? Try to put yourself in their shoes and experience the pain, suffering and depression that they go through on a daily basis!
How about patients who also have a comorbidity such as panic disorder? They muster up the courage to leave their house and attend a feared setting, only to be bombarded with a racing heart, a sense of doom and a feeling of detachment from their body! Their 911 alarm has rung again and they must now return to their prison cell known as “home.”
The important lesson learned here is that those of us who do not experience a mental illness, must remain thankful for being able to live our lives without worry and concern. And we must always be willing to offer help to someone who is suffering from a mental illness; they need all the support that they can get to defeat their struggles and enjoy life again as we do!
Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)