My friend Joyce joined me to talk about her slide into severe panic disorder and agoraphobia, which was followed by an aggressive recovery and rebuilding of her life. Listen to Joyce describe her journey from being frozen in fear on her sofa to being back at work and feeling limitless. Of particular note is the way Joyce used anger and frustration to fuel her recovery efforts. For many, this can be an excellent strategy and I really appreciate Joyce being so open and honest about how she was feeling and how it helped to propel her forward. As always, comments and questions are welcomed. I will do my best to relay any questions or messages to Joyce as they are asked.
When confronted with uncomfortable and scary feelings of anxiety, panic or emotions based on past trauma, the immediate response is to “talk yourself down”. Trying convince yourself that you are OK using words, phrases and thoughts often does not work. When this happens, you are at a fork in the road. You can enlist the aid of your support system to argue with your anxiety or trauma for you, or you can resign yourself to just feel everything without resistance to let it pass through you and end naturally.
Spoiler alert … you want option two. Facing and accepting anxiety, panic, and feelings based on your past is harder, but its the path that leads to long term change and lasting recovery. Continuing to argue, or using your support team to argue by proxy for you, may be an attractive option because it’s the “easier” option and may seem like the fast path to feeling better in the moment, but there’s no learning or changing to found there.
Joe and I speak about this process, the need to face and feel what’s in front of you, and how this leads to a deeper understanding of the reality of being capable, competent and safe. This is the direction you want to go. Trust us.
If you are a regular listener of the podcast, odds are that you’ve had anxiety, worry and fear focused on your heart and your heartbeat at least once or twice. This is quite common. Heart-centered anxiety generally involves being afraid of a rapid, strong, or irregular (flutters/palpitations) heartbeat. This is either due to an underlying fear that something is wrong with your heart or will go wrong, or due to the link between a rapid/strong heartbeat and a panic attack. In either case, the way out, as always, is through. We can use interoceptive exposure techniques to intentionally create the rapid or strong heartbeat we fear in order to desensitize and learn that there is no reason to fear your heartbeat.
Yes, this involves intentionally experiencing that which you fear, but this is almost always the case when solving these problems.