Before we dive into our blog today, I'd like to let you know about a couple of awesome things coming up. First off, St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, and I decided to honor Alynn's heritage by making Where the Clouds Catch Fire available on Amazon Kindle for only $.99. That's right. For only ninety-nine cents, you can get a book that took me nearly four years to write. But it'll be on sale on St. Patrick's Day only, so be sure to drop by and get your copy before the sale ends!
Secondly, Spring Break is upon us, and I've been thinking about doing another Facebook live stream. I loved the question-and-answer session we did last time, and I'd love to do the same thing again--can you jump on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/dontraidmymonastery) at 1:00 Sunday, March 10? If you're worried about not making the live stream, put your questions in the comments below, and I'll answer them on the live stream. I'll put the link in my next blog.
I messed up last night. I finished the last of my school yesterday morning--I somehow got an A in my Texas Government class despite only making an 84 on the final, so hallelujah for that--and I decided to celebrate. After church, I hopped on my computer, opened Quora, and scrolled through my recommended feed until 11:30.
What was stopping me? I didn't have school the next morning, and I didn't have work until 1:30. I could sleep in. I could stay up late. It was spring break after all! So I found myself in bed ten minutes to midnight, my hair still braided, my shower postponed.
And then my brain decided it was a good time to have a panic attack.
I've dealt with these little buggers before. I know panic attacks are different for everyone; mine usually involve thinking I'm going to throw up, followed by a post-workout heart rate and shaky legs. For whatever reason, especially when it's late at night, I tend to shake. Violently.
But by dint of experience, I made that panic attack stop in its tracks and was asleep by 12:10. How? I'm glad you asked.
This is where religion kicks in. I was raised Christian--you can probably tell if you've read Where the Clouds Catch Fire--and my parents taught me what to do when you're scared. You pray. Not just any "Thank-you-for-my-house-and-family-et-cetera" prayer. There are specific Bible verses that help drive away fear. Psalm 91 is a great place to start.
It's also scientifically proven that fear and gratitude can't coexist. So I incorporate thanksgiving into my prayers. "Thank You, God, that Your perfect love drives out fear. Thank You, God, that I have the mind of Christ. Thank You, God, that You are my confidence, and You will keep my foot from being caught. Thank You, God, that You will keep me in perfect peace, for my mind is stayed on You, and I trust in You."
At this point, the main part of the panic attack is past. I don't feel like I'm going to throw up anymore. I'm just shaking under my blankets and a bit frazzled, wondering if the fear is going to come back. Then, I bring in the numbers.
I love numbers when I'm freaking out because they never change. You can pronounce the letter A in about three different ways--without even blending it with another vowel--but one is always one, never more, never less. I couple numbers with deep breathing to help settle down. Breathe in, count to four, hold your breath, count to four, breathe out, count to eight, wait for a minute, count to four, repeat. Better? Almost?
As a last resort--or if you're driving or in public when panic strikes--start playing a song and try to find the rhythm. Try to count, one-two-three-four, one-two-three-four, or one-two-three, four-five-six if that doesn't work.
What are your tips for stopping a panic attack? And what are some questions you'd like me to answer on our next Facebook live stream? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, dear readers, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.