As I chatted with the taxi driver taking me on the school run he confided in me that his daughter had to give up driving recently because she was having panic attacks.
‘‘She’s still having the attacks. She doesn’t know what causes them’’, he sighed.
He was perplexed and distressed by why this was happening to his daughter. I suggested she look into The Linden Method. It had helped me greatly.
I was in a shopping mall when my first panic attack gripped me back in 2000, I literally thought I was about to die, such was its intensity. The attacks got worse as time went on until I became so afraid of having one in public that I stopped leaving the house.
Life became one long nightmare for the next 10 years as I struggled to survive whilst also looking after my mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. After my mother’s death the attacks became less frequent, but it was the birth of my son that was really the turning point for me.
From the day he was born I worried about how I was going to get him to school when the time came. I became determined to beat this horrible affliction and lead a normal life again.
I began to set small goals like walking to the end of my drive, then the top of my street, then the shop around the corner. Slowly I hit each goal, but it was the discovery of The Linden Method that eventually helped me to lead a normal life again.
I no longer suffer from panic attacks. One of the first pieces of advice from the method that helped me was to immediately stop talking about panic attacks and not to label myself as a panic attack sufferer. This might sound silly but as I tried putting it into action I realised that I had practically been stopping people in the street and telling them about my anxiety problems.
Panic had become my identity; I lived and breathed everything to do with it.
I found the less importance I gave it, my anxiety began to diminish. Other advice like splashing my face with cold water at the onset of an attack also helped. This activates the dive reflex, developed in humans to prevent drowning. This reflex slows the heart rate and breathing to preserve oxygen levels in the lungs and blood at a time when the body doesn’t know how soon another breath can be taken. Slowly eating a cold apple or swilling cold water around the mouth can also activate the dive reflex.
Actress Linda Robson has recently been praising the Linden Method for helping her son, whose anxiety was so bad a Harley Street doctor advised he be put on medication and institutionalised. Fortunately they didn’t follow his advice and found the Linden Method instead which lead to his full and quick recovery.
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) was also a great help to me, particularly the book Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins.
Robbins believes that the pain and pleasure principle lies at the heart of all we do.
We are constantly trying to avoid anything that causes us pain and leads to pleasure. Robbins says with enough leverage or motivation we can overcome anything. I believe this is true.
When I became a mother the thought of not being a fully functioning mum to my child because of panic attacks began to cause me pain. The fear of possibly not being able to reach him because of agoraphobia, if he needed me began to crush the panic attacks, as my fear of not being there for my son was much stronger than my fear of having a panic attack.
All I had to do was think of my son in danger and a surge of strength ran through me that would kill any panic dead in its tracks. There is a story of how the originator of NLP once treated a schizophrenic man who thought he was Jesus Christ. No treatment could convince this man that he wasn’t The Messiah.
Working on the pleasure pain principle the NLP guru began to build a cross with huge pieces of timber in front of the patient. He then took massive nails and a hammer and threatened to crucify the man like Jesus. At the thought of such intense pain the man furiously protested he wasn’t Jesus after all.
Finding the right motivation can work wonders!