Celebrating our Sixth Year on the Internet !
Recovery -the journey
Q. I am recovering from panic disorder. I am 42 years old and first displayed symptoms at the age of 28 after the sudden loss of my father to a heart attack. I struggled for several years before my panic attacks became full blown. I was eventually diagnosed by an internist after ruling out all physical illness and disease. I saw a therapist he recommended and after 3 visits and a couple of books, I was on my way to recovery. I was panic attack and symptom free for the past 11 years up until about 6 months ago. My stress level at work went up with several quick promotions and I wasn't doing anything to help myself relax and stay positive. I am now in the midst of a relapse with panic attacks occurring. I thought it would be easier the second time around, it is not. I thought because I now had a formula that had worked before, I would quickly move away from the relapse. That is not true either. The only comfort I find is in the thought that if I am patient and will actively work to meditate, relax, let it flow, and stay positive, I know I will improve and can stay that way for many years. This illness is truly a journey. We all have stories full of pain and despair. I hope someone else can draw strength and courage from knowing that they are not alone. There are many, many more who are suffering and who are in the process of recovering. It can be done.... I have done it and am confident in my ability to do it again. Many thanks to you for a great site and for all you are doing in support of the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder....
A. Thank you for your email. I is very inspiring .... Best wishes
Q. I just want to recover. That is all I think about. I am obsessed with it and no matter how hard I try I just can't seem to get there.
Everyone is expecting be to be better and I do try everyday to do everything I have to, but it is all just so hard and I am still so scared of having a panic attack. How long does all this take?
A. Recovery takes time and patience, patience, patience.
Don't worry about your 'obsessional' need to recover. The need and drive to recover has to be absolute, it has to be the most important priority of our life. The need to recover has to be strong enough to push past all our fears including the fear of people not liking you.
The length of time for recovery varies with individual people. It is dependent upon how strong the need is to recover, how disciplined people are in practising the management techniques and for some people the resolution of past issues. As a rule of thumb, it can take 12 - 18 months from beginning to end, but during that time people can have days, then months of freedom, before a set back. The more set backs you have the better, because it gives you more to practice with and ultimately ensures a life of freedom.
A note of caution, when the need to recover becomes very strong, people have to learn to pace themselves and not push to extreme. Pushing yourself to extreme limits all the time will cause a set back and the feeling that 'I will never make it.' Use this time to get to know yourself fully and learn to be kind and compassionate towards yourself. This way you can learn to push past your limits with more care and understanding of yourself and the disorder. Be kind to yourself and above all be patient.
One day at a time.
Q. My disorder started 10 years ago I guess from 28 years of abuse from people that were close to me and I went in to same time panics at 4 am every morning from that it went to depression and from that it progressed to this damn agoraphobic feeling I get when I go out sometimes. I am sure I will get through it with help. It makes me so mad to think how strong and independent I was to what I am now. I will try to convert that negative feeling into a more positive feeling to help myself get over it. I appreciate your time in this and I will let you know how things go if you want. Thanks again
A. One thing... you are strong. Everyone with an Anxiety Disorder is. It takes great strength just to get through each day, especially if people are not receiving appropriate treatment. Add to that an abuse background and we are talking super strength. You need to recognise this you can use this strength in the way we all do to recover.
The only reason why you haven't recovered is because
you haven't been shown the right way. It has nothing to do with you not
Let us know how you get on.
Q. I do agree with you, when you write that those of us with an anxiety disorder do not have a sense of self, a sense of who they are. To me, this seems to be especially true during the "recovery" stage, after having abandoned all the worries, mental rituals, etc ... which used to fill my life before. It is like I'm free now, but naked ! All the things I was sure about, "before", have been questioned and re-questioned by myself.
So nothing seems really sure now. I feel as if I have to re-build an identity, taking care about myself and not about what relatives, colleagues or other people will think. Moreover : people around me find me much more calm, tolerant, etc ... but they do not even realize that I'm so unsure about me at present ! I was so sure and over-competitive before (but I paid for it big with my anxiety ). I do not know how long it will take until I find serenity, and forgetting to wonder "are you happy now ?", but I believe that I will be much stronger after. Do you know this sentence from Nietzsche :
"What does not kill us makes us stronger" ? This seems to apply to anxiety disorders.
I'm very happy I found you site and bought Bronwyn Fox's book.
A. I couldn't agree with you more about the statement by Nietzsche. It is so true. All of us with an anxiety disorder are actually very strong. In fact prior to us developing the disorder I think we all were 'too strong' for our own good. But as we begin to work with our thinking and begin working with our low self self esteem we can use this strength to help us deal with the many issues which arise during the recovery process. You will find that you don't so much find happiness, it finds you. In fact it is more than happiness. It is more a joy and freedom. Working through the recovery process will take you to this point. Working through the process clears so many of the obstacles we have within ourselves. This is what I mean when I say happiness/joy finds us because we now have the 'room' so to speak for it to come. It is the gift of our Self to our Self.
Actually, thinking on this, could I post your email on our site? I really want to start to address the self esteem issues on the site.
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