I wouldn't say that I am 100% cured but.....


.... I am definitely getting there! I have FINALLY found a medication-free way to stop a panic attack before it takes hold.

I haven't been able to eat - or even sit - in a cafe or restaurant for over 2 years unless I have taken enough beta blockers beforehand to steady my nerves and stop a full blown panic attack occuring. Until last night! I had my first restaurant meal with NO panic attack and NO medication since January 2011! I haven't been this happy in a long time, and I feel that finally this panic disorder is loosening its grip on me. My first major panic attack was in a restaurant having dinner and since then they have been the place I have feared the most.

My technique is as simple as this: just allow the feelings to be there! Don't fight it as it rises up, instead just say to yourself in your head "ok then, hit me with it, what have you got for me?" Confronting the fear in this way leaves little for the panic to thrive on, and soon enough the symptoms die out before the panic attack has really set in. I know this sounds easier said than done, and it takes a lot of courage to try it, but for me it really has worked!

This revelation came to me only about a week ago when I was sat trying to work out if I had enough of my beta blockers left to last me until I could pick up my next prescription. In my head I was trying to work out if there were days when I didn't have to leave the house, in order to save some of my pills (up until now I wouldn't have even thought about leaving the house without taking them first, the thought of that was enough to get my anxiety going) and then I just suddenly thought 'WHAT THE F**K?!! Why am I living like this? How has it got this bad that I can't leave my house without taking one of these little pills first?' and I realised I had to do something about it right then and there. I remembered something my mindfulness tutor had said to me when I told him that I find it hard to stop a panic attack, and he said "Why don't you try just NOT trying to stop it? Instead just allow the feelings to be there, ask yourself why you feel like this, focus on your breath, and just be with yourself and notice what is happening." When he said this I couldn't really understand it, why would I want to allow the panic attack to happen? I couldn't think of anything more terrifying!!

But I thought it must be worth a shot if I really want to be free of these pills. So that day I just left my house and walked down the street. Half way down my road I could feel the familiar symptoms - the anxious thoughts, the racing heart, the tingling arms and legs and then I tried it - I said to myself 'do your worst! go for it!' etc etc and I let the panicky thoughts come and then almost instantly they were gone! It was like magic. I felt fine! I then spent the rest of the day wandering about normally, going into shops etc for the first time in 2 years without medication! Since then, which was a week ago now, I have left my house every day and any moments of anxiety or panic have been overcome by using this same approach.

So if there are some of you who haven't tried this technique before, I urge you to try it. I can't promise it will work for everyone, but it is definitely worth trying. I think I might be on the cusp of attacking this disorder head on, and if sharing this is enough to help even just one other person who suffers from this condition then it is the least I can do.