Things I Cannot Control… My Panic Attacks
Oh sure, I hear you fitness people in my head: ‘You can control your body if you eat better, exercise, and no … donuts aren’t a food group.’ Of course you all are right. I do try to eat right mostly, and I exercise at least 2 times a week, and if I really got serious about what I eat and bumped up my exercise I’m sure that I could lose the extra weight that I’m carrying.
However, what I can’t control is the fact that I’m staring 40 right in the face, and I can’t lose weight the same as I could in my 20’s (I’ll tell you about the beer diet in another post when the topic of the month is stupidity, immaturity and things you did in college when, Praise God, phones with cameras didn’t exist). I also can’t control the changes that gravity and pregnancy have made to my skin in multiple areas, and I can’t control my freckles that come with the sun, no matter how much SPF I wear. However, although I’d love to write a blog post about body image, which is no doubt important, this one is about a different part of my body that I can’t control…my panic attacks.
I woke up this morning tired and battling shame. How could I lose it like that again?! There was nothing to get all freaked out about last night. As I laid in my bed I knew my kids were safe in their beds, that our jobs were stable, that our house is protected. On the surface my life is going great right now. This makes no sense. Then, my chin fell further towards my chest as I remembered my sweet husband, rubbing my back, waiting it out with me. Ick, I must have looked crazy, again… but then… I remembered. I truly had no control last night. We don’t have control over our flight or fight system. God made us that way for our protection when we perceive a threat. So, once the waves started, all I could do was ride them out. It’s like having a stomach bug when your body takes over with retching and you know there is nothing left, but your body keeps dry heaving anyway. I kept losing my breath and crying, and I couldn’t stop it. Like most of my panic attacks, they last for a short time, and then I calm down. Although I’m pretty sure I’m going to die, I don’t. My body won’t let it happen. My body will make me breathe even if I pass out. God designed it that way as well.
Gratefully, on this morning I heard the Lord’s grace the loudest. “You were made in My image and you are loved.” He created a body that has panic attacks to inform me that something is wrong, and if I refuse to listen to my heart, my body will inform me loud and clear whether I want to hear it or not. He also made me a body with a safety switch that ensures that panic attacks won’t actually kill me. My shame releases when I accept that I have no control over long past trauma reactions. My body is doing what it is supposed to, screaming at me when I won’t listen that something in my heart needs attending too. God gave me this beautiful body that has endured much and bears scars of all different kinds. I am so grateful and in awe that this body He created takes over when I refuse. If, I refuse to rest and listen, God created a body that forces me to. Today, I will be thankful for a God who loved us so much He created a complex physical form that alerts me when my heart is crying out.
Tiffany Shores joined the Barnabas Center in August 2012 as a resident counselor and in July of 2013 accepted an offer to counsel at Barnabas on a regular basis. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from George Mason University and her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Marymount University in Arlington, VA. Her experience ranges from grief and depression to marital concerns and relational brokenness. She also works with clients healing from abuse and trauma. Tiffany is married to Skott and they have two boys who keep her busy and teach her new things every day.