Am I Afraid?

am-i-afraid-imageIn this blog entry Lucas Mattiello writes about his experience with Panic Disorder and recovery. Lucas offers public speaking courses, stress management workshops and does anxiety coaching. You can see his website at:

Am I Afraid?

by Luca Mattiello

When speaking about my experiences living with Panic Disorder and the process of recovery, the most commonly asked question is “Are you afraid you’ll go back?”

Returning to a life filled with fear, anxiety, and lack of control is a frightening prospect, but the answer is NO!!

I state this with confidence because reflecting on my experiences there were 3 factors that contributed to my situation:

1. Fear

During my teen years, I started having panic attacks, which felt like a complete loss of control. The first experience was shocking as it was something like I had never experienced before and wanted to never have again. This created a state of fear, as I was on constant alert, looking for a signal that the next panic attack was coming. This feeling of fear was perpetuated by not knowing what I could do during a panic attack to reduce its intensity.

2. Isolation

This was happening to me during the mid 90′s and at that time, there was no education or discussion about stress and anxiety in school. As the frequency of panic attacks increased and not knowing any experiencing a similar situation, I began to feel that I was alone, that this was an isolated incident and I was the only person living with panic attacks. This feeling of isolation, drove a lot of self-stigma, how could I be so weak to feel like I will die in seemingly safe situations?

3. Hopelessness

The combination of constant anxiety, feeling of isolation, and lack of tools to fight back against anxiety, led to a belief of hopelessness. Without examples of people speaking about their experiences, it’s difficult to be optimistic that change is possible. This situation created a lot of anger, as I was frustrated because I wanted to regain control of my life, but didn’t know what was the first step.

This brings me back the question of why I can be so confident to say that I do not fear returning to my previous state, where I lived in a constant worry. The answer is because it’s impossible.

It’s impossible to return because my journey to recovery has equipped me with the knowledge, tools, and ability to control my stress and anxiety levels. I cannot lose the education of what anxiety is, how my environment affects stress levels and the CBT tools to release anxious thoughts when they surface. Most important, is I have the confidence that I’ve slayed the anxiety dragon before and can do it again, that is if it shows it’s face, but I don’t that would happen, it knows better :)

If you are living with panic attacks, remember:

*You are not alone, anxiety and panic attacks are common.

*You have hope, many people have conquering similar situations.

*You have a choice, there are many options for you to seek assistance.

*Lifestyle changes such as incorporating regular exercise, yoga, and diaphragm breathing are proven methods to reduce stress.

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