I just had my first "accepted" panic attack.
Two weeks ago I started with a new therapist. He is a Zen Buddhist of Jewish heritage. We are working on a mindfulness therapy called ACT or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. It is absolutely opposite of everything I've tried doing and have read these past 11 months of personal hell.
Instead of trying to control my thoughts of panic and anxiety, I am learning to accept them as a normal part of my human experience. Instead of narrowing the lens of what is an acceptable experience, I am expanding it.
So. I sit and I experience the panic attack. I experience the flooding of blood throughout my body. I experience the drastic increased heart rate. I experience my stomach dropping out from me. I experience the dry mouth. I experience the multiple and rapid thoughts of death, dying, emergency room visits. I experience the numbness that comes from experiencing shortness of breath. I experience the lightheaded and dizzy feelings from experiencing shortness of breath. I experience being unable to talk for fear of making things worse. I experience it and accept it as a normal range of what is human behavior for me.
It's honestly a lot less stressful than trying to push it away and keep it at bay. This panic attack (which generally tips into a prolonged anxiety attack) lasted for only 15 minutes. And now I am calm. Tired, because panic attacks are exhausting, but calm.
My therapist wants me to become bored with having panic attacks. He wants me to have so many that I'm literally saying, "Eh, whatever." I know it probably seems insane to be so accepting of something so intensely damaging and painful to my emotional state of being and my physical state of being, but there's something about it that works.
Acceptance. It's a beautiful, beautiful thing. It is the powerful drive of any relationship... We know we are loved when we are accepted into someone's home, someone's embrace, someone's life. We know we are loved by God for he accepts us, as we are, into his Kingdom, here and now.
I feel at peace when I accept myself and when I accept that I am accepted. I am learning that it takes me a little longer to do my homework, my housework, my life because I have panic attacks, I have anxiety. It makes me no better or worse than before or to come. I just am. Who I am. Right here and now. That's a beautiful thing to accept and know.
Here's to a process. A lifelong process.