The Three Jewels
The Buddha
The Dharma (teachings)
The Sangha (community)
Three Vehicles
The Four Noble Truths
Death & Rebirth
The Mind
Four Immeasurables
Compassion & Bodhicitta
Wisdom of Emptiness
Spiritual Teacher
Going for Refuge
FAQ- sheet
Practice & Meditation
Everyday Behaviour
What is Meditation
How to Meditate
58 Meditations
Tantric Preliminaries
Tantric Practice
Problematic Emotions
Lack of Self-Confidence
Other Delusions
In General Buddhism
In Tantra
5 Dhyani Buddhas
In Tibetan Buddhism
In the Kalachakra Tantra
Stories, Quotes & Fun
Stories from the Heart
Buddhist Stories
New Buddhist Quotes
Quotes of Wisdom
Funny Pages...
My Main Teachers
The Dalai Lama
Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche
Lama Zopa Rinpoche
Sutras & Practices

Vows & Prayers...

Teksty w jezyku polskim
History of Buddhism...
Recommended Books

New Controversy
A to Z Glossary
Number Glossary
Contact & about me
Tibetan Buddhism
Buddhism in Tibet
Tibetan Calendar
Tibetan Astrology
Tibetan Symbolism
A Taste of Zen
Buddhism in Japan
Zen FAQ-sheet
Zen Poems and Haiku
Zen Stories
Zen Computer Fun
Web Links
Search this Site



    Modern version of the Eternal Knot by Charles Huttner
A View on Buddhism
Teksty w jezyku polskim     Deutsche Seiten

Lisa's Story of Anxiety

My name is Lisa, I am 37 years old and I am someone is ‘suffering’ from panic disorder with agoraphobia. I say ‘suffering’ in inverted commas because I don’t quite see it that way now but I will explain a bit more about that later.

My life was nothing short of destroyed because of my anxiety disorder, but then you will know just how this feels and how isolating this can be. No doubt you have the battle scars of your own journeys to tell and I would really like to share mine with you all in the hope that for some of you, it might give you hope when things get tough and when you feel on the verge giving up.

So, I was 11 years old when I had my first bout of anxiety and I was very confused; all I knew was something had happened that had changed my life and I didn’t know what it was and when it would happen again. I forgot about this peculiar episode and life
went pretty much back to normal, but the feelings of anxiety would lurk in the background and this indescribable urge to ‘run’ continued. I saw a couple of doctors but no one knew what the problem was so I learnt to keep it to myself, keep quiet and just ‘get on with it’.

Life went on as usual, then in 1990 I was put under severe stress. My partner lost his job, our security was under threat and we were on the verge of losing our home. We slipped further and further into debt and I couldn’t see a way out.

I became desperately concerned but I hid all these thoughts and feelings and fought anxiously to regain control of my life, which I did on one level (I saved the house) but the anxiety grew worse…… I ignored it and carried on thinking it would go away, as it always did. It didn’t though this time. I reached my breaking point and panic attacks ensued. Terrified, I retreated to the safety of my home and yet still the panic attacks didn’t stop. Well, I am sure you all know what this is like, and I can say that my life just got more and more out of control. I was afraid to go out, afraid to stay in and falling asleep was my only respite.

In an attempt to control my attacks I drank alcohol, not much but enough to dumb down my feelings. I thought I was going insane and I couldn’t see a way out.

I will cut the story short here. Suffice to say that I spent the years of 1990 until 2004 in a bit of a haze, getting by, going to work, coming home and accepting that I was crazy and that no one would ever understand me.

Then, one day, back in 2004, I decided enough was enough. This little voice inside me was still screaming at me, asking to be heard. That was me! Despite everything that had happened, there was still some fight left inside and I hadn’t given up hope of an answer just yet.

I got to work. I looked on the internet and read and read everything I could on panic disorder and agoraphobia and all the different treatment options. I was amazed at how attitudes had changed over that decade I spent alone, and also by the sheer amount of information and support.

Something within clicked, perhaps I could get better; perhaps I could get my life back!

From 2004 onwards a lot happened; my partner and I decided to go our separate ways and I met someone new. I told him straight away about my disorder and he didn’t bat an eyelid, he accepted me just for who I was and I had finally found someone I could share my innermost fears with; someone who did not judge me. It helped me understand that I had defined myself by my disorder, and yet I was much more than that.

Next, I took a telephone CBT course and set some goals for working on my avoidance behaviour and started a relaxation programme. I also decided to see a therapist to work on my self esteem issues (panic disorder can reduce our confidence to nothing).

I made some great strides and my world started to open up again but I was still nagged by this feeling that I would never get better and I would always have to live with it. I think this was the flaw in my thinking and perception that hindered my progress and although I was much better, I still couldn’t break through and take back the power of my panic disorder.

Yet more water under the bridge, yet more reading, yet more personal discoveries and this is where I am today. I have changed beyond all recognition and yet I am still the same person.

Today, I believe I can recover, that I am recovering and that I will recover completely and because I think I can recover, I will. We are, after all, what we think we are. Think about that for a while if you will.

My perception has changed; anxiety is no longer the terror it used to be. It is now a gift, a chance to wake up and be who I really am. The anxiety was a cry for help from deep inside but I didn’t listen. I am learning to accept and work with my anxiety and to let it flow through me so that I truly learn it cannot hurt me.

How has this happened? Well, I decided to take full responsibility for my life. I stopped hopping about, looking for the elusive
miracle cure and decided to take action. I knew how hard it would be but I also decided I would rather face up to my disorders than live that way for the rest of my life. Long term satisfaction became more important to me than avoiding panic. This attitude didn’t come overnight; I fought to cultivate this everyday.

To bring this story up to date, I can tell you that the last year has been an incredible roller coaster ride where I am finding all sorts of things about myself that I never knew. This has become a journey of self discovery and learning. I have devoted myself to my own wellbeing and mental health, and have come to realise that this is not selfish; this is compassionate and skilful action and this is fundamental if we are to get better and help ourselves.

I now meditate every day both as a relaxation and a mindfulness technique. I participated in another course of mindfulness based CBT and read many books on the subject (knowledge and education is vital).

I read everything I could on panic disorder and accounts of people who had recovered and how they succeeded, and I have also addressed some childhood issues and how my own low self esteem has impacted on my anxiety disorder.

I now see a brilliant therapist and we discuss everything and she accepts me for who I am. But most of all, I am working on this; I am working so hard every single day and simply loving it!

Every day, I am out there practising and practicing. It is hard work, exhausting sometimes, but it can be exhilarating, like when I wak with my dog in the brilliant sunshine, kicking the fallen leaves around and running through the grass, just glad to be alive, glad to be free. This is so rewarding! I am, at last, at 37, finding out who ‘Lisa’ really is. What makes me happy, anxious, angry, or sad and in this process I am learning to respect myself just as I am. And as I do this, I find myself softening and opening up; I find I can accept my anxiety as it rises and each time I do this, with patience and kindness, I get to realise more and more that it is nothing to be afraid of. They are feelings within me, and although powerful, if I feel them, rather than resist them, the anxiety just flows through and disappears.

This is where I think my own recovery rests; in a complete perception change. We all know intellectually that anxiety will not kill us but when we are in the middle of it we don’t believe this. This is what I am working on, seeing it through, being with it, learning from my experience and not turning away from it.

I am coming to realise that I am not hopeless, I am not a coward and nor am I crazy, I am a human being with some problems that I can face and I can work on, even if I do get scared from time to time. I am learning that panic is nothing to be afraid of, it isn’t life threatening, it just feels that way. I am learning to be my own ‘safe’ person and that basically I can handle it. It isn’t easy, not by any means; in fact, I think this is the hardest task I have ever taken on so just imagine how strong I will be when I get to pass through the other side of this, once and for all!

And what about you? Well, if you are reading this then it means you are already interested in recovering from your own problems and you are already doing something about it. And do you know what? I believe that every single one of you, of us, can recover, and be who we truly are, no matter who we are, how long we have suffered or how ‘bad’ we think we are.

I am no one special, I am ordinary… so If I can do this, then so can you. I have faith in each and every one of us. Never give up, keep believing and make it happen for you.

I would like to leave you with the words of Marin Luther King: “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream”.

Lisa also contributes in our Discussion Forum as 'beginner's mind'.

Lisa participates in a specialist helpline with Anxiety UK, and will be available to support members who wish to talk to someone with personal experience of agoraphobia. Please call the Anxiety UK office.

Previous Page | ^Top of Page | Next Page -  

Last updated: February 6, 2011