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  • Therapy stories:

  • Panic Attacks

  • Therapy is one of the most useful inventions of the last 100 years.

  • Through conversations with a therapist, people have a chance to understand themselves better and to lead happier less anxious lives.

  • Here is a true story from therapy.

  • Out of the blue, in his 28th year, Zack began to develop panic attacks

  • at the most inconvenient moments: at an office presentation, or a business networking event

  • he'd feel extraordinarily anxious, get an urge to run away, and often need to find a bathroom very fast.

  • It started to become hugely debilitating for Zack, who worked in a rather unforgiving, fast moving, tech company in San Fransisco.

  • A friend recommended a therapist.

  • It was pretty weird to find himself on a therapist's couch.

  • He'd never had much time for the idea of therapy.

  • The first thing the therapist told him was that here, in this room, he could panic just about as much as he liked

  • and it wasn't going to be a problem.

  • He could run away, faint, be sick, as all fine by her.

  • That helped immensely.

  • They began talking about what some of these panic attacks might have in common.

  • It was actually deeply refreshing to talk to someone who didn't keep interrupting or shifting the agenda,

  • someone who just kept the focus on what he was feeling and try to decode it for him.

  • Something struck Zack as he spoke:

  • the panic he felt had a habit of arising whenever there were expectations on him.

  • Whenever people were waiting for him to be impressive, clever, or decisive in some way

  • and there was a chance to make himself look like a fool or a jerk.

  • It was as though one part of him was deliberately undermining and sabotaging the other

  • whenever there was a opportunity to shine or triumph.

  • "If it carries on like this, I'll have no option but to head back home a live with my parents."

  • remarked Zack, darkly one day towards the end of a session.

  • That turned out to be the start of a very fruitful line of discussion.

  • Zack had grown up in rural Minnesota.

  • His father was a roofer.

  • Neither of his parents had been to college.

  • He'd been the bright one who'd flown the nest.

  • The gap between Zack and his parents was now huge:

  • he might earn in 1 year what his father earned in 5.

  • The more Zack told the therapist about his background,

  • the more he realized what a burden of guilt he was carrying around with him.

  • The guilt: that success was leading him to succeed his parents

  • in a way that was at once exciting and properly frightening.

  • Zack wanted success but being successful was also threatening to separate him

  • from the 2 people who he felt the greatest debt to.

  • The panic attacks seemed like a devilish way to stay faithful to his parents.

  • It was like an act of self sabotage, calculated to protect the parents,

  • and especially, the father, who had some competitive and envious sides to his otherwise warm nature;

  • all this from the risks of humiliation.

  • It was as though in one part of his mind,

  • Zack didn't believe he could be both an impressive adult and a loyal son.

  • Discovering this about himself helped Zack a lot.

  • Gradually the symptoms lessened.

  • He learnt how to understand himself for wanting not to have the life his parents had had,

  • and to forgive himself for looking for something better.

  • At the same time, he accepted that he could remain loving and admiring of many qualities his parents had,

  • and that those around him in the tech scene often didn't.

  • Zack continued in therapy for a year.

  • The attacks stopped completely without any need for medication.

  • It was as if part of his mind had been listened to and

  • no longer felt the need to ruin Zack's life in order to be heard.

  • Recently, Zack was invited to address a conference of 2,000 delegate.

  • The speech went perfectly.

Therapy stories:

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Panic Attacks

  • 23 0
    minami.kuo posted on 2019/12/20
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