I am sitting in a back-less paper gown looking down at the floor, trying to control my breath – waiting. How did I get here? Was it one too many nights of partying? Had I been sleeping on my sisters’ couch for too long? Was the Universe giving up on me? Had I given up on myself?
A tall, bearded, tattooed man walked in with a clipboard. He didn’t look like the doctors I had seen on TV. “Well,” he said, “we’ve looked over all your tests and from what we can see everything looks fine, there’s nothing wrong.”
There is nothing wrong!? I screamed silently. Then why am I sitting in a hospital room at 4am? Why can’t I breathe properly? Why is my brain shaking? Why am I nauseous? Why is my heart beat all over the place? Why are there waves of electricity running through my veins?
My mind was racing. I searched his face for answers.
As if he was hearing all the questions in my head, he began to speak. “I think you might be experiencing a panic attack. Just keep breathing, it should subside. If you still feel this way in a couple days, let us know and we can do a few more tests.”
“Okay, thank you.” I looked over at my Sister only slightly relieved and mostly embarrassed. She had to get ready for work soon and I had stolen another night of sleep from her – only this time I wasn’t stumbling in drunk. I was sober, scared and disappointed.
Before this, I had heard the words ‘panic attack’ in passing. Friends shared their accounts of such experiences with me on many occasions. What I no longer understood was their descriptions. No one had described the terror. I was lying in bed one minute and the next minute my body and spirit were at war. My spirit was leaving me and my body was fighting to hold it in.
This sensation lasted for 2 weeks. I didn’t go back to the doctor.
Before this night I had done yoga on occasion, had meditated here and there, tried to eat my fruits and vegetables, I had even tried going to therapy for a bit in university. What I didn’t realize was that my body and mind don’t have the option of ‘trying’ things occasionally. Every experience, every memory, every thought, every word, every trauma I had ever encountered was carefully scanned; documented and stored in this information system I called ‘Self.’
Today I am a Self-Care Instructor, Writer and Public Speaker. My intention is to support as many people as possible on their journey of building Life-Giving skills and practices. I look around at our modern day culture and see how tired, overwhelmed, anxious, stressed out, angry, confused, guilty, resentful, ashamed, avoidant and indecisive people are.
When I think of what it means to be a Grown Up, I think of someone who is secure, soothing, nurturing, protective, focused, efficient, uplifting, firm and gentle – the ultimate Provider. Someone who sees each moment as an opportunity to both honor their truth and the truth of others as they go about the business of building a better world around them.
The challenge is, all of these qualities emerge from within – but we need to know what we are looking for. If we didn’t have parents, mentors, teachers and role-models with these qualities around us growing up, there would be no reference point for us to build from. If our sense of ‘Self’ is based on a series of information intakes, then we would need to be exposed to the best information possible to have the best outcome possible. To grow into a Grown Up, we would need to be exposed to what a Grown Up actually looks like, sounds like and feels like in real time for long enough periods, that it would have an impact on our personal habits.
Unfortunately, exposure to yelling, name calling, physical violence, passive aggressiveness, 60 hour work weeks, road rage, burnout, power struggle, manipulation, pressure, control, inconsistency, conditional love, substance abuse, gambling, excessive shopping, pornography, poverty and complacency have the opposite effect on us.
The truth is that after a stressful day most people do put on Netflix, reach for a drink, yell at their kids or eat potato chips and cake. Then they wake up in the morning – tired – and continue the cycle wondering why their dreams aren’t coming true.
When we have a stressful day and begin talking about it, journaling, taking a bath, getting a massage, meditating, punching pillows and going for long walks – in other words, releasing the negative emotions in a safe and Life-Giving way – then we will notice a shift. We will wake up in the morning with more energy feeling more confident in our ability to handle challenges.
In our time together we will explore how to release habits that cause us suffering, how to incorporate habits that cause us to feel a greater sense of peace and how to live a life full of inspiration, truth, connection, fun and freedom.
This process takes time. What matters most is that we have access to information that helps us feel both safe and more powerful.
While two weeks of panic attacks shook my little personal world and there were some after-shocks, I have been panic attack free for the last two years. Will they ever come back? Maybe, but now I’ll know exactly what to do with them.
To quote one of my favourite authors, “I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” –Dr. Seuss
“Its Cool To BE Happy”