Updated: Jun 28
This past fall, I had my first panic attack. This feeling was foreign to me and I didn’t know how to cope. The many things that I had loved were crowded out with fear. I feared my hobbies, my city, and many people. I feared life.
Leading up to this time, my life had been unsustainably busy. I neglected proper meals, rest, and my energy felt pulled in an infinite amount of directions.
This feeling of fear, panic, and anxiety stayed persistent for a long time and I grew to fear the feeling. I doubted whether I would make it through.
Reflexively, I antagonized my anxiety. I refused to accept the drastic shift it had created in my life. Seeing that this created more panic and fear, I sought ways to accept my anxiety. On the path towards acceptance I reflected on the gifts my emotions have brought me.
I’ve learned to slow down, create moments of rest, properly nourish my body, sit presently with people, and seek out what I truly enjoy.
I relied on many people during this time too. Long time friends, recent friends, my family. It made me realize how much love and support I had around me.
I’ve struggled with my relationship with my body and food for a long time. My internalized belief that I should look a certain way and that food was the enemy had stayed persistent for most of my life despite efforts to change this.
My anxiety has helped me redefine my relationship with food. Negative neural pathways I had surrounding food started to shift as I sought to nourish my body in order to support my mental well being. Food is no longer something I fear, rather a supporter towards my happiness and connection with others.
It’s been a slow but steady progression to feeling like life will be okay again. I’ve received help from loved ones, therapists, daily practices, and the guidance of God to reclaim my peace.
I find comfort in that on Earth, Jesus experienced every human emotion and everything we’ve felt, he’s felt too.
I still feel the panic. I still feel the fear. But unlike before, these feelings don’t last. Like a wave, they come and they go and I’ve begun to surrender to the ride.
Marina Chen, DPT is the Vice President of Live RecoverED and a physical therapist in Washington. In her free time she loves spending time outdoors and with friends.