Some time ago I caught a snippet from the Jeremy Vine lunchtime programme on the subject of panic attacks. The panel of experts were fielding questions from phone-in callers. Finally one man asked, ‘Is there a cure?’ The expert sighed and said, ‘I hoped no-one would ask that question – no there isn’t – it is all about managing the condition.’
I was saddened by that answer because it didn’t get down to underlying causes. We are all rather like a double-decker bus – there are two distinct levels to us. It’s great fun riding on the top deck, enjoying the view. Why should we bother with what is going on below, as long as we keep moving forward! But what if there is a disturbance on the lower deck – perhaps a fight or trouble with the driver? You might hope that it won’t spill out to the upper deck – but it does have the potential to bring the whole bus to a stop. That, in simple terms, is a panic attack.
Do we have the courage to look at what we really feel or do we push it down and keep looking out of the window? We can glance at the mirror at the top of the stairs and get some idea of what is happening below and then choose not to look. Panic attacks occur when our emotions take matters into their own hands and express themselves regardless.
What can you do? Face up to the fact that there is more to you than meets the eye. There is a depth at which so many emotions can lie unresolved - emotions that leave you feeling vulnerable, disconnected and disorientated. Those feelings can be so opposite to what you present that you may not want to share them. You have already decided they are silly or weak. Have the courage to find someone you trust and start talking. Recognise that those feelings are saying something and what they are saying needs to be understood. Your feelings matter because you matter so everything is worth sharing.