Someone emailed me and asked what my panic attacks were like. I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about that. In the beginning my panic attacks seemed to come out of nowhere, striking when I least expected. My heart would suddenly rev up and I would become breathless and light-headed. Then I would feel as if all the energy in me was draining away, and I would have to suddenly sit down or lay down.
After my first attack, my blood pressure was really high so I went to my doctor to find out what was wrong. She diagnosed me with panic. I didn't believe her. I thought my thyroid was acting up or something. I didn't really understand what was happening until I read more about panic disorder. I read several books, and in one I learned to carry a small brown paper bag with me wherever I went. Whenever I hyperventilated, I sat down or leaned against a wall and breathed in and out of the sack, keeping the sack opening closed around my mouth and nose so no air escaped. After about 30 seconds, my normal breathing would return. When you're in the throes of panic, you take gulping breaths, getting too much oxygen. Using the bag traps the carbon dioxide and forces you to breathe it in--which restores the correct balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your bloodstream and stops the hyperventilation.
Sometimes my attacks would be more typical of the "fight or flight response" that you feel when you are in danger. It is feeling that you have to run for safety but there is no safe place to go. After just a few attacks, I became afraid to leave my home. I stopped going shopping or going to church. I cancelled numerous doctor appointments and hair appointments and missed several family celebrations because of fear. When I finally discovered three years later that I could run to God with my Bible verses and pray them and thank Him that He meant those verses for me and the panic would leave, I was so very grateful to God! I mean truly grateful! He was like my Knight in Shining Armor! He saved me, literally, from my fears, just like David wrote: “I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” (Ps. 34:4) I feel that David must’ve been a panic survivor, too, because he was under intense stress for much of his life, like me, and he often talks about going to God with his fears and God helping him. I’m sure that angered the devil because he was after David since David was “a man after God’s own heart” and, in many ways, was a representation of Christ in the Old Testament.
The enemy meant to glory in my sufferings, too, but God turned it around on him. “When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19) (NKJV) The Hebrew for “lift up a standard against him” could also be translated “puts him to flight.” I prefer that translation. After all the times the enemy put me to flight through panic, it thrills me to know God did the same thing to him. Praise you, Lord! You vindicate your children.