I started having panic attacks I think in the year 2016, and didn’t really know what one was or what I was having. I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but it took a long time before a medical professional could identify what was going on as panic attacks, and I finally got help with a really incredible form of therapy I recommend to everyone called cognitive behavior therapy or CBT. Rather than constantly avoiding those situations that trigger panic, you should put yourself in those situations more often. This is called exposure therapy. In actually seeking out your fears, you get over them much more quickly. There’s actually a lot of depth to CBT, and I recommend the David Burns book Feeling Good if you want a comprehensive course. Even check out YouTube or Wikipedia, which I did when I first discovered the therapy.
With CBT, I went from having a panic attack every other day to literally not having panic attacks at all. It’s really the best therapy for anxiety and panic, and I recommend it to anyone currently suffering. I also want to advise you to be cautious of people who say they’re cognitive therapists, but are only saying so because it’s trendy and they think they’ll get your business. There are actually a lot of impostures out there. Particularly if you’re suffering from panic attacks, I recommend the David Burns book When Panic Attacks, which really covers all it’s bases for curing anxiety.
I got relief from panic attacks for two and a half years after seeing a cognitive therapist. I was able to work two jobs and live a fully normal life. It was pretty amazing, but I didn’t really talk about the fact that I had had problems and got this incredible help, cause there was no longer a need to talk about that stuff. I was able to live a normal life.
So only recently did the panic attacks come back. And recently I got bad advice from a medical professional. I called the person and said “HELP, I’m having a panic attack!”
The person said “Oh, you’ll probably have that for the rest of your life.”
“But I stopped having them for two and a half years.”
“But then they came back, didn’t they?”
Imagine being able to say to a therapist or psychiatrist “My depression just suddenly disappeared. I’m going to stop seeing you and stop taking the Prozac. Maybe I’ll need you again for a couple visits in two and a half years. But I’ll probably recover after that too.”
A Freudian psychologist will tell you one debilitating mental health situation will last the rest of your life, because there’s no money in curing your patient. But do not be deceived. There is a cure for panic attacks. I know, because I’ve lived that cure. Only now, I’m trying to find the cure again.
I think where I’m hung up right is that I take comfort in having an attack. It’s been a while, let’s say more than three months but less than six months, since the attacks came back. To get rid of them completely right now would be to do away with a behavior I’m familiar with. It’s almost habit now to have an attack on a set schedule. And you know what they say “Old habits die hard.”
But they do die. This is exactly where I’m stuck. Breaking the stupid habit of it all. I re-read the David Burns book When Panic Attacks and it’s really the best book on the subject. It’s a long book and a thorough book, and if there isn’t at least one bit of really powerful advice for you (if you’re suffering), you probably can’t be helped.
So, this is what I’m going into the new year thinking about. How do I break a bad habit? Particularly when the benefit of the habit is about zero, and the benefit to breaking the habit is enormous. Maybe make a Cost Benefit Analysis like the David Burns book recommends.
Happy New Year to all.