Metaphor for panic

I’ve noted the following life scenario: at some point after the mid-20s, someone has made very positive changes to their life, taking steps to feel their emotions, communicate them and try to deal with them in an emotionally mature way, whilst also being more empathetic and tolerant of others, letting go of old grudges etc.

And then they suffer from panic attacks and anxiety.

Why should this be? If the changes made are so positive, why this horrible symptom of mental ill health?

Well, I hit on an analogy worth sharing.

It is as if the person has been riding a white-knuckle rollercoaster, but the rollercoaster is life, and is a mental one rather than physical. They have recently taken steps to get off that rollercoaster and stand on firm, calm, non-moving land.

But, they’ve been on that rollercoaster for many years, since they were born in fact. It has been constantly moving, a continuous adrenaline pump and it was a constant battle just to stay in their seat. Now that they are on the stable ground, have finally relaxed their grip, they are terribly, terribly sick. They have finally stopped moving and have land sickness. They are vomiting all over the place.

Now, the vomiting is just a sign that they’ve finally stopped looping the loop but their system still needs to take time to adjust. It’s an understandable reaction. Vomiting feels awful when it’s happening. It feels way worse than the rollercoaster. It also feels like it’s never going to end.

But it’s still a very good thing that they have finally gotten off that infernal ride.

If you are suffering panic, it means you have unclenched yourself from years of mental trauma, it means you have done the right thing. It means you are on the road to a much better life. But your system is having after shocks and is learning to adjust. It feels like it’s the worst thing in the world, but in every respect it is not very damaging. It feels like it will last forever, but it won’t. Just relax, be patient. You’re already off the coaster and you did it all by yourself. Everything is going to be ok.

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