Welcome to part two! If you haven’t read My Journey through PTSD, Panic, and Anxiety Attacks Pt. 1 yet, I highly recommend that you do!
How did I overcome my fear? Well, here’s how I overcame my PTSD, panic, and anxiety atacks:
Address the problem.
What was it exactly that triggered my attacks? It was simple: any contact from a man, even a hug.
Figure out if it is a particular trigger or general.
In my case, it was general. My trigger applied to ALL men, including the ones that I had eventually learned I could trust and who were helping me.
Start slow and work through the fear.
This only worked when I was with someone I already trusted. Had I tried this on a complete stranger, I probably would have given up and went back to square one, or given up all together. I had to endure sitting next to my friends. While this is enjoyable for some people, for me it was hell. By sitting NEXT to them, I mean with their leg touching mine, or reaching over me for something. It was torture and it took a long time before we could move onto the next phase.
Once you have accomplished one small feat, move onto the next.
The next was getting comfortable with touch. That meant hugs. A lot of tears were involved in this phase because of my anxiety and panic. My entire body would shake uncontrollably, even though I was with men that I actually trusted.
Self-Talk Yourself Through the Anxiety and Panic.
I had to work through on my own once I had another boyfriend. His hugs and his kisses and his patience with me. Luckily, I had someone who already knew my situation and was very patient with me. One touch on my arm sent me into a fit of shaking, heart racing, and palms sweating. I had to tell myself over and over in my head that he wasn’t going to hurt me, that he wasn’t like other guys, and that I knew I could trust him. He was my best friend after all, and still is! Working up to a kiss was almost next to impossible, so that didn’t come right away. Eventually, with a lot of practice of hugs and some kisses, I was able to relax.
Work through the second reason of anxiety and panic attacks: speaking to strangers/in front of people.
I got a job with a great company where I taught children things that I didn’t know anything about. Thankfully, we received training and I got to work with one of my best friends. Since he was there with me, I was able to relax and be myself—even if it was only a little bit. I was still awkward as heck and said and did all the wrong things, but eventually, I learned. I worked through my fear and even worked the same job the following year after I had finally graduated from university. I had such a great time with the kids and it was around this time that I began looking for a job in Japan.
The next thing was taking a course to teach adults.
I took a course called CELTA so I could teach in Japan. I had to meet new people and get up in front of adults instead of children, who are less forgiving than children. It was the biggest challenge I had to face by myself. It was a course that lasted a month and every time I got up to teach, I was shaking and scared out of my mind. I had mini-panic attacks while I was in the middle of teaching all the time, but my acting came handy. I just pretended that I was acting and my fellow teachers were the audience while my students were other actors and we were improvising. It got me through the course.
Getting a REAL job as a teacher.
While I didn’t go to Japan, I still managed to find a job here and I’m still working there. My first few months, I was just a sub and I’d have a mini-panic attack every time I’d go into a new class. A few months later, I had my own class and had a mini-melt down the night before as well as the morning of the class. However, I had amazing students and because of their patience and love I learned that it wasn’t so bad. Over time, I stopped having panic/anxiety attacks and I eventually opened up to a couple of my coworkers.
Look back on what you have accomplished.
It’s been years since I had a panic/anxiety attack over a man or talking to a stranger. Now, I do it all the time because of my job as a consultant and teacher. I used to get anxiety attacks over confrontations, but now I can initiate the confrontation without any problems. My true personality is no longer hidden and my students and coworkers now see the real me, but it took a long time for me to get there. It wasn’t easy and there were many times I felt like giving up, but I didn’t.
Why didn’t I give up? Because my desire to overcome my fear and become strong was so great that I did whatever possible. Even if that meant going through all the horrible memories of what I had been through to get to where I am today. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t fun, it was pure hell. But now I’m no longer that meek girl anymore, I’m a strong woman with a fire burning in my heart. That fire is my determination, which has gotten me this far.
What is my determination? My determination to succeed in my dreams and goals in life. I can’t succeed if I give up or let my past drag me down. My past is my past, and my future is ahead, not behind me. I don’t look back anymore. I might look around me at the present, but I keep myself focused on my goals on the future, even when life slams me into a well and makes me stumble or fall. I pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep going. That’s what it means to be strong, to be brave: to keep going even in the face of adversity.
I do not claim that these methods will work for everyone as everyone is different. I also am not a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. I am sharing my personal experience and how I overcame my own PTSD, panic attacks, and anxiety disorders on my own.