In Praise of Panic Attacks.
That’s right, you heard me. Panic attacks. In praise of them.
Now, if you suffer from a chemical imbalance or psychological trauma that results in panic attacks, please don’t mistake my advice for that of a medical or therapeutic professional. I’m speaking entirely from my own experience for what that’s worth.
Now, where were we? Oh, yeah, that feeling like you’re dying before your very own eyes and you can’t turn away. Like you’re being crushed to death but slowly, while everyone around you who isn’t being crushed to death asks you what your problem is.
You can’t breathe, your eyes go wide, you want to run, but there’s nowhere to run to because it’s all in your head and you can’t run away from that. Well, you can with drugs or alcohol or distractions, but it’s still-there-in-the-background and-if-you-stop-to-look-at-it-it’ll-gain-on-you oh-god-it’s-gaining-on-you-it’s-gaining-on-you-it’s-gaining-on-you!
That’s what I’m here to praise today.
See, I don’t have a lifelong pattern of panic attacks, so maybe that’s why I see it with a bit of a detached perspective. I’ve only started to experience them in the past few years, and have had maybe half a dozen, so they haven’t scarred me, even though they are maybe the worst thing I’ve ever experienced.
So here’s what I try to do when panic attacks me:
1. I surrender. I figure, if I’m going to die, then let’s just get it over with. Maybe it’ll be for the best because whoever I am and whatever I’m doing obviously isn’t working out. So long, loser. You did your best even if that wasn’t very good.
That leads to a bit of calm. Whoever’s trying to kill me wasn’t expecting that. Are they bluffing? Are they chicken? That leads to:
2. I own it. Who am I in this situation and who are they? Is it possible that the problem is that I’m getting the two confused? Am I attacking myself? If I am, then I’ve certainly got the inside scoop that would allow me to be devastatingly targeted in my attack. I know my weak spots better than anyone.
If this is true, then I’ve obviously got myself tangled up in myself, and I’m pissing myself off and then attacking myself like a dog chasing its own tail. So I need to reset, and I find the best way to do that is:
3. I apologize. To whom? Well, since I’ve lost all perspective on where I end and where the Other begins, I just apologize to the whole damn mess. Over and over again so it soaks in and loosens everything up, so it can start to untangle itself. And I riff on that. I accept whatever words and phrases present themselves and work them in. In this way, I begin to discover to whom and for what I’m apologizing.
And what happens then? Do I get back to normal? No, that wouldn’t be very interesting, and what’s so great about normal anyway? Instead, I break through to a totally different space where I meet The Blameless One. He’s not subject to panic attacks or judgment because he’s never done anything wrong and can’t. He’s pure and innocent and completely unlike me, although I suspect he is me.
He is Never Born, and untainted with karma, and he’s very curious. He thinks I’m hilarious, and I’m inclined to agree.
I’m not inclined to put a label on The Blameless One because that feels so intrusive and disrespectful to the experience. I just want to abide with him as long as possible. In that space, I understand what motivates monks and nuns and hermits to renounce the world because it really can’t compare to the beauty of The Blameless One.
It’s almost like a psychedelic experience, so I don’t know to what extent it’s a reaction or a compensation or even temporary insanity, but I do feel I come out of it having changed more than I could with everything else I do in my normal dualistic state: more expansive and more elastic. It’s a genuinely transformative experience.
If I am coming out of it kind of crazy, who’s to say I wasn’t crazy going in? If so, it’s a better kind of crazy, and I can live with that. And if it takes the near total ego death of a panic attack to get me there, then here’s to panic attacks. Let this be my paean to them. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll learn to get there without them.
Clive Treadwell‘s background is in creative services and management consulting, but his foreground is in the evolution of the human race. He is the author of The Reluctant Monk: An Ascension Story and the proprietor of The Ascension Store, and can be found on Facebook.