It was the year 2010, during a social banquet of a professional tennis tournament I was involved with…
The waiter came around to our 7 person table and respectfully asked ‘what can I get you for drinks sir.’ Right at that moment I felt as if I was at the top of a mountain, ready to roll myself all the way down in a painful manner. The next few minutes would be agonizing to say the least.
I couldn’t order a water, that would make me look cheap I thought. I can’t order a pop because it’s got caffeine in it, and would spur on a full-blown panic attack. I also couldn’t order a glass of wine or a beer because the last episode I had with alcohol, would subconsciously kick-start symptoms of anxiety within me that would leave me running to the closest emergency room.
In The End I Gave Into The Pressure Of My Surroundings, And Ordered The Glass Of Wine
Everybody else was doing it, so I had to fit myself in I thought. As the waiter took my drink order, I could feel the many pairs of eyes of the others in my table slowly drift away from my direction. With it the blood slowly rushed away from my face, but the damage had already been done I thought. That surge of adrenaline would create a snowball effect, and just like many other instances when I was in a social gathering, this one would again leave me with a combination of a lump in the throat feeling, tingling sensations, intense dizziness, heart palpitations, and let’s not forget those body zaps.
The glass of red wine was gently put in front of me, and I stared at it for about 10 seconds straight without blinking. The others must have thought I was mad, but just then I was able to take my very first sip.
Understand This About Me Living With An Anxiety Disorder In The Past; One Sip Of Alcohol, Let Alone A Few Drinks Was Enough To Create Massive Amounts Of Adrenaline And Panic The Morning After.
Every part of me was yelling to remind me of my past episodes of panic after alcohol. But there was this other very faint, almost like a young child like voice in my head that spoke the words ‘ride the wave.’ Ride the wave? What the hell is that I thought to myself. But just as I was on to my second, and third sip of wine it all became slightly clearer to me.
For an instant at the dinner table that night, I had made a connection in my mind between fear and hope. For many years I was obsessed and guided by my critical mind, that part of me that reminded me of all the tough times I had in the past. But for a brief moment in time I had gently tipped the scales in the direction of my true mind.
The Part Of My Mind That Saw A Different Type Of Ending To The Story. One Where I Could Feel The Fear, Feel The Sensations Of Anxiety, Even Feel The Panic, And Yet Continue On With What I was Doing As It Yearned For My Attention In The Background.
This brief moment of listening into what my true mind was telling me, gave me a rush of confidence that I had never felt before. Sitting at the dinner table that night I not only finished the first glass of wine, but I downed 3 more after that! Not because I was a like one of those crazy college kids looking for a good time, but because I wanted to prove to myself and my critical mind that I could ‘ride the wave’ of fear.
Did I feel those sensations of anxiety as the night went on? Most definitely, did my mind keep reminding me of the dangers of a full-blown panic attack in the morning? Of course. But I had made up my mind that night to tip the scales in favor of success against anxiety and panic, over feelings of despair and failure. The night ended smoothly. I had completely lost interest in my anxious thoughts as the night went on. For the first time I had experienced freedom. Freedom from the mental, emotional, and physical torture that I was living in for most of my days.
You’re probably curious about how the next morning went right?
Well, you’re not going to hear a typical North American movie here that has a miracle happy ending. I suffered, and I suffered hard. The moment I woke up the memories of previous panic attacks the morning after alcohol kicked in. I did my best to ‘ride the wave’ of the ‘what if’ thinking patterns, and physical challenges we anxiety disorder folks live with. But I was unsuccessful. That is, until I consciously turned my focus to something else, and physically got moving.
I took a shower, mowed the lawn, cleaned the windows, I did everything I normally wouldn’t do that morning after alcohol. I wasn’t running away from panic though, what I was doing was listening to my true mind telling me that this was just another practice session.
A Time To Practice Being Comfortable With My Anxiety And Panic, As I Turned My Focus Towards The Things That Needed To Get Done In My Life… Like Cleaning The Windows, I Guess.
Too many people living with an anxiety disorder get frustrated because they try to change their thoughts, change their thoughts, THEIR THOUGHTS! They become confused as to why things aren’t changing in their lives. The truth is re-conditioning your thought patterns comes with re-structuring all the other areas of your life as well.
This Is Why Therapy Fails Over And Over Again, And Don’t Even Get Me Started With Doctor Visits
Sitting around trying to change your thinking patterns alone is fine, for someone with mild to moderate anxiety. But for people who suffer from chronic health anxiety it goes much deeper than that. It takes a complete shift in rituals in the 4 areas of your life, which are:
As you can see, by re-shaping your life in these 4 areas you are building immense confidence in the face of your greatest fears. Your life ACTUALLY starts to move in the direction you want it to. I realized that wishing and hoping things will change won’t create change, period. You must first commit, I mean TRULY commit to a long-term shift in routine and rituals, create an action plan for how you will achieve your goals, accept setbacks, and stay inspired in the face of great disappointment.
The only way past an anxiety disorder, is to go straight through it and not around it…
Have you ever ran into a similar scenario with panic in your life? Share your thoughts and story in the comment section below!