My ‘heart attack’ panic attack
I wanted to tell my story about the time whenever I first discovered that anxiety was a big part of my life. It was in September 2005 and I suffered my first panic attack driving to Dublin to work. I say panic attack, I thought it was the calmest panic attack anybody could ever have in that I calmly and rationally diagnosed myself as having a heart attack because of the tightness in my chest, racing heart, fogginess in my brain, pain in my left arm, pain in my left thumb and pins and needles down my left side. So, yeah, I’m having a heart attack! I better pull in off the road and dial 999 and get the emergency services out. That’s what I did, and they took me to hospital. I was well looked after, well treated and had 3 days there of every test you can imagine figuring out what exactly had caused my heart attack. After 3 days the consultant discharged me and said, “whatever happened you, John, it wasn’t your heart”. And I said, “well, what was it?” and he pointed to my head, saying “have a look in there.”
That set me on the road of figuring out why it was that I felt all the symptoms of a heart attack driven from the thoughts in my head. I looked at a number of different therapies and therapists and really, I spent 5 years before I could classify myself as free from panic attacks. They would regularly come and go at different times, caused by different triggers as I found out. Some triggers from clients, some triggers from family, some triggers just seemed to come from nowhere, or maybe from my subconscious.
Tackling the panic through Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Coaching
It wasn’t until I met a psychologist in Belfast and had quite a number of sessions with her that I eventually got to the feeling where I was ‘ok’. I was anxious, yes, but I was dealing with my anxiety. I wasn’t suffering from panic attacks anymore and my heart wasn’t racing. But, it was really a 5-year search, and I suppose the subject I want to talk about is: after that 5 year search, when I felt free from panic attacks and really didn’t have any further panic attacks, I still had a background hum in my life of anxiety. I would have still described myself as somebody who was anxious, albeit free from the panic attacks that were debilitating, causing my heart to race, causing the issues in my head. I was free from those; maybe not completely free, but I had this background hum of anxiety.
Then, in October last year I met a couple of coaches in England and they invited me to a weekend of being the best of yourself or bringing the best of yourself. During that weekend, I discovered the nature of thought and what thought does to human beings and how we live in the reality of our thoughts and yet our thoughts are not real. I also discovered the connection with the divine, if you like, the connection with brilliance, the connection with creative thought and the connection with peace. We spent the weekend discussing the nature of being human and the nature of my realities and the thoughts, and how they seemed real to me through the lens of my consciousness. Following that weekend, my background hum of anxiety changed. It changed to one of a background hum of feeling ‘alright’. Yes, I wasn’t suffering panic attacks in the years after 20I0, but after October 20I7 and after spending a weekend with a couple of coaches, I actually would say that I’m alright. Even when I don’t feel alright, even when I feel worried or wonder what’s going to happen in the future, the background hum of ‘I’m alright, and I’ll be alright’ still persists to this day.
“Anxiety issues can affect anyone;
realising you’re ok can happen to everyone”
Even though life has its ups and downs, as it does for most people, I still have this background hum of ‘I’m alright’ and that came from spending time with a couple of coaches and thinking of the whole nature of anxiety and the nature of our thoughts. Whilst CBT has its uses and definitely worked for me to a degree, I felt spending some time understanding the nature of thought, consciousness, and the universal connection that we all have with something greater than ourselves: that’s what really did it for me, that’s what really changed my background hum of anxiety to my background hum of alright.
I wanted to share that to let people know that, you’re alright. And even when you’re not alright, you’re still alright. I certainly feel that, and I’m certainly an example of that – somebody who has gone through panic attacks that left me unable to work but are now a thing of the past.
If you’re interested in hearing more about my story of feeling alright or want to chat about how you can feel alright, feel free to get in touch.
Phone: +44 (0) 7718 806109