A difference exists between panicking and having a panic attack.
Have you ever lost your car keys, and you were worried that would get in trouble for arriving late to work? Were you frustrated, irritated, and upset that they were misplaced again? Did you turn your entire purse or your entire house upside down looking for them?
You probably panicked until you found them and immediately went about your day.
Have you ever lost your car keys, and you were worried that you would be fired for arriving late to work? And then worried that you would not get a paycheck, that you would get your utilities shut off, that CPS would take your children for not having electricity, that your house would burn down because you had to use a space heater for warmth in the winter when it got down to -25°F (because you know if you misplace your keys that each and every one of these things really will happen)? Did you get dizzy, did your heart and pulse race, did you feel extremely nauseous, did your knees go weak, did you start shaking and shivering violently, were you unable to get your words into a sentence, were you looking for the escape route from the worst possible scenario?
Then you probably had a panic attack.
…and I literally just now had to go make sure that my keys were where they belonged. I almost sent myself into an attack by simply writing that scenario…
I cope with my anxiety on a daily basis. It is a part of me, it is a part of my OCD (no, I am not so OCD – I have OCD), it is a part of my life. Unless you have had a panic attack, a for-real panic attack, it will be difficult for you to completely understand what is happening.
My family and friends know that I get these episodes occasionally. They do not know what is going on inside of me, however. I am pretty sure that most of them just think I am weird.
I am extremely thankful for a husband that loves me no matter what (pretty sure he got the worse of “for better or worse”…), and a doctor that understands and cares. I am thankful for a diagnosis that I am not crazy, and for medications and information to help me function like a ‘normal’ person.
I have been asked, “But I thought you were supposed to be a Christian? Should a real Christian have these issues?”
I cannot decide whether to cry or overturn tables when I hear this type of statement.
Even when that statement comes from inside my own head…
Isaiah 26:3 tells me that God will keep those that trust Him in perfect peace. Why then, am I not in perfect peace?
The Hebrew words for ‘perfect peace’ mean to be completely safe. I understand this to mean that as I focus on Him, He will keep me safe within His plan. I don’t know His plan, (As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9) but I know I can trust Him to stick to it and carry me through. I am a human though, and my will to trust and have faith will falter sometimes.
That is why we have the Bible. Think about it – if God knows everything, and He does, then He knows that we need reminding of His promises, and we do.
I will fail. So will you. The good news is that I am not a failure. And neither are you.
So when I have that panic attack, and you just don’t get it because you see no reason for my distress, I hope you will remember what you have read here. I hope that even if you cannot commiserate, you can be compassionate. I hope that you will remind me of Isaiah 26:3 and help me focus and function.
I hope you will remind me that this too shall pass…