I had my first panic attack in my University dorm room about four years ago. I’ve always enjoyed working out but on this occasion I may have pushed myself too far which lead to a full on panic attack.
After convincing the NHS helpline that I may be dying, my flat mate quickly escorted me to the hospital where they ran several tests on my heart. Fortunately, they came back all clear and I was sent home shortly after. That night I felt like I had run over by a bus, I was exhausted. Little did I realise that from that day onwards pushing myself would become synonymous with a fear of dying.
For the 1 in 10 people who suffer from panic attacks, many develop phobias that link with the initial cause, exercise; the one thing I enjoyed most had now become one of my greatest fears.
Although I continued to work out, I become super sensitive to the smallest change in my body, even a strong pound in my chest was enough to re-ignite an attack and before long I became afraid of pushing myself.
One of the most popular methods of addressing panic attacks is through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT works by re-wiring your thought process. I knew that if I was going to enjoy sport the way I once did I would have to regularly face my fear in order to override the feeling, and so I began with some self help.
For the last 4 years, I’ve continued to play football, run and lift weights. I still get glimmers of panic every time I try lifting a heavier weight or running a further distance but I’ve learnt to accept the sensation. If anything, my panic attacks have become a reminder that if I’m not pushing myself to the point of fear, I’m probably not making any real progress.
Panic attacks are scary, no shit, but when you change the way you think about them they simply become your bodies’ way of saying you out done me.
Today I managed to deadlift a personal best of 175kg – Don’t let panic attacks hold you back, let them motivate you and be your ongoing challenge until they’re finally gone.
If you are/know someone who suffers from panic attacks please DOWNLOAD/SHARE these resources:
You can do it.