You don’t go to a job for 16 years and expect it to happen. Sure Maria was worn out and weary. She limped a little. Her knees hurt, and her leg muscles were sore. They called it battle scars.
But after 15 years of being a social worker advocate for the disabled, Maria knew one thing, she didn’t want to end up like most of her clients — taking medications for the rest of her life.
“I was walking to my cubicle when without warning, I was overcome with racing thoughts, followed by nausea and extreme lightheadedness. My throat struggled to let out what little air I had in my lungs. I dropped to the floor within inches of my desk; my head rested on my knees. I braced myself for what was to come. I was going crazy, I thought.”
Panic Attack? Not Me
Maria had heard it many times before, but it was her clients who suffered from panic attacks — not her.
After a few minutes, her mind regained its footing, but she still shook with fear.
“Once I knew I wasn’t going crazy, I diagnosed myself. I had succumbed to chronic stress. I wanted to get through the day, but that was impossible. I ran out the door before anyone noticed and headed straight home.”
“I was afraid to go back to work, thinking I would have another panic attack as soon as I walked through the door. I took a month off. Thankfully, I had the time.”
Should I Take Medications?
Maria reached out to a psychiatrist friend who implored her to take medications until she could get to the cause of the problem.She refused because she didn’t want to become dependent on it. Although she recommended medications for her clients, she loathed them.
“I spend weeks fretting and worrying… frozen with fear.”
That all changed when Maria met Brant, a mindful healer, and specialist in herbal remedies.
“Brant gave me a herb called ashwagandha for immediate short-term relief. Then he introduced me to the power of mindfulness. I learned that there was nothing wrong with me; I just needed better ways to handle stress.”
“All I can say is that it changed my life forever.”
Maria saw first hand how mindfulness could speed up healing.
“A year ago I was reacting negatively to stress, now I am responding positively.”
She discovered that the mere presence of stress doesn’t imply there is some wrong; the key is how you react to stress.
“Now I know how my previous coping strategy of drinking too much coffee, and never having a quiet moment was not helping me. Brant taught me how to prioritize tasks… I do not need to do everything all at once.”
Previously, when faced with stress, her typical response was to emotionally and physically shut down. She withdrew and sought out quick fixes like caffeine and red wine.
“A few months ago, I encountered a high-stress situation, this time; I took some out to back away from it. Instead of diving right in, I paused. I breathed in deeply. I relaxed my mind with a meditative body scan from head to toe.”
Maria credits the daily practice of mindfulness for restoring her equilibrium and eliminating her panic attacks.
“Because I create space for myself — space between me and my reactions, I can get out of the way of a worried mind. I am no longer waging a battle against stress. I am on a journey to renewal.”