How To Cope With Panic Attacks – Free Ebook

During a panic attack, the anxiety that a
lot of us already carry in our minds every

day and that is typically content merely gently
to corrode away our lives, promptly changes

tack and decides it really wants to kill us,
once and for all – preferably very soon.

The key thing to remember is that it can’t
and it won’t. And at the same time, that

we’ll be utterly convinced that it will.
That’s the duality we have to cope within

those dastardly episodes we call panic attacks.

How do these things feel? Imagine that the
airplane doors close and we realise that we

won’t be able to get off for six hours,
that we can hardly move our legs without touching

passengers on every side, that the air we’re
breathing has passed through the lungs of

two hundred other people and a couple of jet
engines too and that we’re about to be a

few miles off the ground – and the whole situation
suddenly seems wholly surreal, tear-jerkingly

cruel and deeply unsurvivable.

Or we’re at a business meeting, surrounded
by colleagues and prospective clients and

we’re made aware that our bowels are about
to open or our stomachs to heave across the

table, and that we’ll be publically reduced
to a pure emanation of noxious sludge – after

which it would evidently be best not to try
to continue with one’s life and instead

to be taken away, done in and never mentioned
again.

What are we to do at such moments? What could
the most well wrought philosophy do for us

when we’re about to shit ourselves or start
wailing uncontrollably at the back of a tightly

packed Airbus?

There are, in spite of all our feelings of
chaos, a few bits of solid advice to hold

on to:

Firstly: though this seems like the oddest
and most embarrassing thing ever to have unfolded,

it happens all the time, even to good, decent
people who are worthy of respect and will

enjoy a lengthy and dignified old age. People
don’t talk about these episodes of course

and you can see why – because it threatens
to be humiliating and an ejection from polite

society. But in the process, we make it worse
for everyone. Part of what getting through

panic attacks involves is rehabilitating the
whole concept of losing control to fear. Don’t

add shame or embarrassment to your worry.
These episodes are neither a punishment nor

weird. They’re an essential part of being
a sensitive thoughtful human in a chaotic,

complex and disordered world.
If you are prone to attacks, do the opposite

of hide the tendency: tell the world – and
let the light of public playful confession

chase away the shadows of shame.

Secondly, accept the fear; don’t fight it.
It threatens very seriously to kill you but

it won’t and can’t. No one has ever died
from fear alone. You should look at the situation

as if you were out at sea trying to wrestle
with the current. Rather than agitate further,

it is best to let the waves carry you this
way and that and know that they can’t tear

you apart; they’ll tire eventually and then
set you back on shore. Never struggle against

a rip tide. Similarly, accept the worst that
the terror can do to you – and stand defiant.

Maybe the speech won’t happen, you might
faint in your airline seat or be forced to

run out of the office. So what. Refuse to
be humiliated by the panic. You don’t have

to be competent all the time. Everyone is
allowed to fail, very often and this just

happens to be one of your well-earnt fiascos.
Welcome to being human.

Thirdly, when calm has returned, try to think
all this through, ideally with a kindly friend

or therapist. The fear is to do – perhaps
in part, probably – with a baseline sense

of unworthiness. People who think they’re
not worth much fear the worst. Maybe you don’t,

at some level, feel it’s allowed for you
to give a speech and impress a hundred people

or succeed in your career or go off on holiday
somewhere nice. Maybe, in your unconscious,

this might make someone (a parent?) feel jealous
or inadequate – and it’s kinder, therefore,

to stick with being small and unobtrusive
and afraid of everything.

To which the answer is to reassert, in the
light of day, the basic truth that you – you

beautiful crazy worrying human – have every
right to exist and draw pleasure from this

life, that there is nothing illegal about
being alive and working a positive effect

on others, that – whatever indications you
might have received in your past – you are

allowed to be.
Also, consider that the panic might have to

do with a memory of long ago having been appallingly
controlled, hurt and not allowed to get away.

It’s an airplane door that has just closed
but in the unconscious mind, it’s a perhaps

also return to other situations of powerlessness
that were unmasterable and that continue to

haunt.
To which the answer is to go back to the past,

understand it fully and drain it of its power
to upset the present. The memories need to

be heard and the trauma digested but the plane
is going to take off and the doors will eventually

open again and you will be free to go wherever
you want without being oppressed, because

you are now an adult, with all the agency
and liberty and light that that word should

imply to you.
Or maybe what powers your terror is a feeling

that you have to impress other people and
won’t be forgiven if you don’t. To which

the answer is that though it’s always nice
to achieve a bit more, frankly, you’re more

than OK just as you are; the days of having
to impress others are over; you need to prove

nothing at all. There is no need to let your
commitment to self-contempt keep tearing you

apart.

Fourthly, at the height of the fear, it can
help to get deeply but redemptively pessimistic

about everything. Though it seems like everything
matters intensely, gloriously, in truth, nothing

matters at all. Almost every human on the
planet is entirely indifferent to you; out

in the Mojave desert, scorpions are scuttling
among the rocks; an eagle is soaring above

the Korakorum pass, up there in the universe,
the two moons of Mars, Phobos and Deimos,

are completing their orbits. You will soon
enough be dead, properly inert, and it will

have been as if you never existed. You are
but a blip in eternal cosmic time; whether

your speech unfolds well or badly, or you
soil your trousers or not is a matter of sublime,

beautiful indifference to planet Kepler 22b,
638 light-years from earth in the constellation

of Cygnus.

Keep in mind the eternal wisdom of the medieval
proverb that says of the waxing and waning

of all things:
THIS TOO SHALL PASS

Lastly, don’t avoid everything that scares
you; don’t let the panic reduce you. Don’t

accord the fear so much respect that you start
to listen to its tyrannical dictates.

Answer the aggression within every panic attack
with its opposite: with a deeply unconditional

love for you, fear’s unfortunate, blameless,
worthy and hugely loveable calm-deserving

innocent victim.
ALL THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

We can learn the skill of being calm. Not through special teas or slow breathing. But through thinking. Our book guides us through that process. Click to find out more.