How to end panic attacks
Lees je dit liever in het Nederlands? Dat kan hier!
In April 2018 I received a message from Northern Carolina (USA) from Richard Downs Jr., who was asking me for help because of his depression and panic attacks. He had found me online and watched all my videos.
When we start the first session, he has just turned fifty. He’s totally stuck and barely able to get out of the house. He lives with his parents in Northern Carolina again. And he is paralysed by fear and insomnia.
He has panic attacks and doesn’t dare to leave the house
He’s trying to quit using prozac and trazodone and hasn’t slept at all in a week. “What is your problem?” I ask. “Intense anxiety, stage fright, performance anxiety, panic, insomnia,” he says. “And fear of authority, like a conductor.” And he’s hypersensitive to sound, light, everything. “I want to flee and I don’t dare to get out of the house any more. I want to get rid of the pain.”
He’s not suicidal. I ask about that right away. Because wanting to get rid of the pain is not the same as wanting to end life. I want to know if he’s a danger to himself. “I feel a deep sadness, I cry about everything and worry about my parents. A desperate sense of loneliness, isolation. And I’m afraid that things won’t get better. And that I will depend on antidepressants and sleeping pills for the rest of my life. Pills that don’t even help.”
The story comes out during the first conversations. Musical talent was discovered in Richard at an early age. He is the eldest son in a family that fled from Nicaragua to the USA in the late 1970s. His parents did everything for his education at the conservatory. All his time and energy went into playing the violin. He wasn’t just afraid of failing and disappointing his parents. But he also carried the burden on his young shoulders to perform at all kinds of occasions. And to prove how ‘free and happy’ he was in the new country, where he did not feel at home at all.
A panic attack often is a bunch of stacked old fear
You cannot play away the fear of a refugee child. Neither grief and family traumas. Not even when you are such a talented child prodigy, which he seriously doubts himself. Music had become his life and he played in renowned orchestras worldwide. After years of walking on his toes, he has completely lost the fun in making music. He has been neglecting his violin for months. At first he thought it was a midlife crisis, but the panic attacks only get worse. He smoked weed for a while and that didn’t make it any better. It caused a kind of psychosis, which created panic.
In eight online Skype sessions we do a big cleaning. I teach him to tap on painful memories. And help him clear traumas and limiting conclusions. And replace them with other emotions and give them a new meaning. This makes him believe in himself, the world, life and its possibilities again. Because he sleeps badly and wakes up early, we do the sessions at 5 in the morning, in his time zone. That’s my time at 11 am. At that early hour the rest of his family is still asleep and he can tell his story unheard.
Back to the streets!
And then the moment comes when he has to get out on the streets. Avoiding a panic attack costs more energy than going for confrontation. Exposure! Avoiding fearful situations is not a solution. On the contrary, the fear is in your head, in your world of thoughts. And it grows due to a lack of experience with a different reality. As I said before: Go for it! Although he’s phically far away from where I am.
Nevertheless, my method works just as well online. Because we do all subsequent steps first in the mind, in imagination, in fantasy. The body doesn’t know the difference between imagination or experience, so he can experience it all. Not only in the mind, but every step he imagines he feels in his body. Yes, hypnosis works and you don’t have to lie down or float around for it. It works when you are sitting upright and wide awake. We all do it, but most of the time we don’t know we’re doing it. I use it consciously and tell it while I do it.
I help Richard subscribe all the details of the way out of the house first. From his front door I let him experience the complete route. Who he meets where when he walks down the stairs. Whereby I intervene immediately with all the panic, emotions that this evokes. I instruct him with every emotion to tap on his face. I give him exact directions for the right meridians. I keep the instructions simple and direct. I don’t name meridians or muscles, but point out the place on the right moment.
Panic attack? The fear is in your mind
If someone says, “If I stay home, the walls will come down on me,” I say, “Stay home tonight and see what happens.” I know that walls don’t move. Fear is in your head. Confronting yourself is the best solution in such cases. You must experience life and face your fear. That was also the case with Richard. I accompanied him in a ‘trance’ the first steps out of the house. During this guided ‘journey’, Richard encounters the cleaner in the stairwell. A big man, who smiles kindly and encouragingly at him. You won’t meet that man if you stay inside.
Whether it actually happens or in ‘fantasy’ doesn’t matter. It’s an empowering experience. We are talking online during this walk, which takes place in his mind and that he shares with me. I ‘walk’ with him and images also arise in my mind. And I affirm anything that makes him feel good. And I help him tap away everything that’s holding him back. That’s how we replace the images into its emotional field.
“All battles are first fought in the mind”Jeanne d’Arc
During one of his first (real life) trips away from home, he finds a job. He becomes the driver of a children’s train in a shopping centre nearby. Once upon a time he would not have come up with this and would mainly experience fear of the crowds. But now his attention is on the children on the little train, who enjoy the ride. It works well for him to watch the excited little kids with big smiles on their faces and it cheers him up. He is not able all the time to go, but it gets better every day.
You can solve it all today
After the summer, Richard takes a few big steps. Literally and figuratively; a breakthrough. He picks up his violin again and even accepts an offer from the orchestra, which he played in before. He is able to take things a little more lightly again. Of course I am very happy with the result. I confronted him hard and made him swim in the mud. That is sometimes necessary. Just long enough to want to stay out of it forever.
Sometimes his fears still grip him, but he knows he can’t run away from them. “Go for it!” is my advice. He does now, sometimes with fear and trembling.
No matter how our fears originated, there is always a way to get rid of them. If you really want it and take responsibility for your own life. If you are brave enough to ask for help. Richard longed to be brave enough to travel again and we worked on this in the sessions. Finally he flew to Mexico, where he proposed to his girlfriend. A brave man, un hombre valiente!!!
In early 2021 he embraced his violin again with enthusiasm. And after I saw and commented on his new video series, he said, “Yes, I have a new surge of creative energy in my being!!” He travels to the States every now and then to play again with the orchestra, where he worked for years.
In his own words
Richard wrote some reviews on Google and Facebook, like:
Jeannette is a combination of compassion and clarity, knowledge, patience and a genuine commitment to help others heal. She made me feel accepted and at ease. With Jeannette’s help I got my life back! She is a very skilled therapist. I was experiencing panic and anxiety about many things and at times I could not even get out of my apartment, but she could speak to me in a way that gave me the courage to risk and face my fears and go out. She gave me room to speak my mind and even to disagree with her procedures without it being a threat to knowledge or skills as she is very confident and humble at the same time.
With Jeannette, it never felt like I was having a session with a therapist who follows a dogmatic set of cookie cutter molds, but she is fluid, flexible and intuitive. And she feels the client’s deep needs and adapts accordingly. I felt her more as a close friend with whom I could easily open to my deepest fears and doubts. Now that is quite a gift!
I feel deep gratitude for her true words and sense of humor. She has been there with me in the lowest.
Thank you so much my dear Jeannette! You have been there with me in the lowest … With love!
Richard has his own Sangeet Orkestra YouTube channel, where he plays all instruments himself. He gave me the rights to use all of his music in my videos and meditations. And I used it in audiobook version of my latest book (in Dutch).