When my panic attacks began, I read every book about overcoming panic I could find and put what I learned into practice, but nothing worked. My doctor immediately tried medication, but I ended up being medication-sensitive to the SSRIs prescribed to me. SSRIs help prevent panic attacks and, coincidentally, also treat depression. I was able, however, to tolerate alprazolam, a sedative, in its lowest dose. At the same time I took medication, I went to counseling. I faced the abuse I suffered in the past, the lack of peace in the present, and was told I needed to change my negative thought patterns and change my self-image. In other words, I needed to reinvent myself. No one told me how.
I read self-help books and bought positive self-talk tapes and tried to believe in the statements I was to repeat every day, but the critical side of me would not be silenced. I didn’t have any faith in what those statements said. I wasn’t confident. People didn’t seek me out because I exuded strength. I didn’t believe I was going to have a great day. I didn’t believe I had control of my life. If I couldn’t control my panic attacks, how in the heck was I supposed to believe that I had the power to change my life. The panic attacks just seemed to reinforce that I’d lost all control. I never knew when they were coming, how long they’d last, or if they’d ever stop.
Over time my attacks became stronger, and I began sensing evil along with the fear. I thought I was losing my mind, and I wondered if my husband and doctors knew I was going crazy but were afraid to tell me.
In the spring of 2004, I cried out to Jesus for help, knowing that He would do something. I then put myself on my church's email prayer list. A week later, a friend called me and invited me to Beth Moore’s Believing God Bible study. I hadn’t spoken to this friend in over 2 years. I knew this was God answering my prayer. I was afraid to leave my house, but I said I would go. Later, while watching TV, I fell asleep on the couch. By the time I woke up, the Bible study had already started. I told myself it was too late, that I wouldn't go, but then something inside me compelled me to grab my alprazolam and my Bible and go anyway.
The video had already started when I slipped into the dark room and slid into the nearest chair by the door—in case I needed a quick exit because of panic. Someone gave me a book and I heard Beth Moore on the video saying that God wanted me to live life abundantly. That I didn’t have to just survive—that I could thrive. Every word she spoke seemed to be aimed at me, and I felt something in me leap in response. I was hearing Truth for the first time in a long time. I poured myself into that Bible study, and I began experiencing real peace. That Bible study helped me understand so much. My faith grew and I went back to church for the first time in 2 years. The next Sunday I went back to Sunday School. The next Sunday, I taught the Sunday School lesson and was singing in the choir!
After Believing God, I bought Beth’s Breaking Free study and began putting into practice her advice about praying God’s Word over my challenges. I compiled a list of Bible verses that dealt with overcoming fear—verses I’ve posted in this blog—and I began reading them every morning and evening. About 4 months later, a panic attack came, and I had had so many days of peace with God, that it felt like an intrusion—something that threatened to separate me from God. I felt a "NO!" in my spirit, and I grabbed my verses and prayed them out loud to God through my anxious tears. By the time I got to the last verse, the panic was gone. I hadn’t even had to take extra medication. I could scarcely believe it! After that, any time a panic attack threatened, I grabbed my verses and prayed and the panic attack would leave. Over time, they stopped coming at all. Praise God!
I still read over those verses when I'm anxious or upset and not a day goes by that I don't thank God for His faithfulness and love.