“Anxiety…” This word was shocking to hear from the doctor about me when I had my first anxiety/panic attack. Me? Anxiety? How? So many things were going through my mind (and body, too). I had lost it. Completely. How could one small thing (in my eyes) be so big as to rock your emotions and your physical well being?
Palpitations, shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, vomiting, feeling weak – these were just a few of the symptoms of my first panic attack, as well as being about to pass out. This attack shook my core. I wasn’t me anymore. I was this anxiety, this thing, that wouldn’t let my body eat, sleep, think. I thought I had a heart attack and was gasping for air. Legs shaking, I stepped onto the balcony for air but it was as if there wasn’t enough. ‘Ya Allah, this is it. Is this how I will die? My children sleeping, my husband calling 911, me, gasping for air?’ I uttered the shahadah as many times as I could, tears pouring down my face, clinging to my husband.
But Allah (SWT) is so very kind. I lived through it. It has been several months since my first anxiety attack. I thank my Rabb every day for His kindness and help, for me to be able to get back on my feet and take care of my family. Though I have been taking meds for anxiety and insomnia, I say with relief that anxiety is not dangerous and cannot kill you. It feels so good to know that it is only a state of mind (and excess adrenaline!) that feeds anxiety.
I’ve been reading many books, one of which is Anxiety: Panicking about Panic: A powerful, self-help guide for those suffering from an Anxiety or Panic Disorder by Joshua Fletcher. This book really clarifies what anxiety is: an excess of worries which accumulate into anxiety, shake your nervous system and increase your adrenaline levels, which leads to a panic attack. He goes on to say that this excess of adrenaline will be flushed out of your system with a panic attack, and it will be over. It is just a matter of time until you regain yourself.
One of the most powerful things Fletcher mentions is that anxiety cannot and will not hurt you, though you might have the symptoms (palpitations, shortness of breath and so on), you will be fine. The best thing to do is not to feed the anxiety. Do not feed the anxiety. Which means basically, keep yourself busy with positive thoughts and do things that make you happy. Which can be difficult for those like me who tend to worry about, well, everything.
Though this is a journey for me and an eye-opener, I truly thank Allah (SWT) for this test. It has made me closer to Him, has made me understand and value health, to not worry excessively, and mostly has taught me to just be thankful for today, for right now. Contrary to common beliefs, anxiety is not something unknown to the believer as we see in this du’a our beloved Prophet (SAW) used to say:
“O Allah, I am Your servant, son of Your servant, son of Your maidservant, my forelock is in Your hand, Your command over me is forever executed and Your decree over me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You name Yourself with, or revealed in Your Book, or You taught to any of Your creation, or You have preserved in the knowledge of the unseen with You, that You make the Qur’an the life of my heart and the light of my breast, and a departure for my sorrow and a release for my anxiety.” (Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal)
To my brothers and sisters who are sufferers of mental health problems, do not despair. Allah (SWT) is with you. Keep your tongues moist in His remembrance, for His word (Qur’an) is a medicine.
Peace be with you,
When MindOverAnxiety Mama is not homeschooling her two creative and lively kids, she loves travelling, food and painting. Since having a panic attack in August 2016, MindOverAnxietyMama has been busy blogging her journey with anxiety and her ways of coping through this struggle. She hopes, with the knowledge she gains, that she can teach others what anxiety truly is and its coping mechanisms for anxiety sufferers and non-sufferers, alike. Visit her at https://mindoveranxietymama.wordpress.com/