Today I do want to talk about quite a serious topic for me – my panic attacks and agoraphobia and how I managed to almost instantly cure them thanks to a certain type of meditation (seriously).
If like me, you are experiencing panic attacks and/or agoraphobia, I highly recommend you give the MC2 meditation method a try. Unlike many commonly used meditation practices that intend to relax you, this method helps you face your fear and regain trust in your ability to act normally and be in control of your own behavior around others. The MC2 method is free and available online, it consists of 8 short tracks that you can listen to wherever and whenever you want.
Of course, we’re all different and I cannot guarantee that the MC2 method will work miracles for you, as it did for me. But since it’s free, short, and easy to try out, I’d say you don’t have much to lose. In any case, however, it’s always important to talk to a professional who will be able to give you advice and support you through the whole process.
If you’re curious to know more about my personal story, my symptoms, and how this method helped me almost instantly cure them, read along, or watch the video below.
My First Panic Attack: How It All Started
It was about ten years ago. I received my dream internship and I’d been working for about four weeks for my two bosses. I was really, really happy.
One day, one of my two bosses called me in. I went to his office and he more or less made me understand that they would be really happy to give me a job if they managed to free the financial resources for yet another position in the organization.
I was super happy. I was thrilled. It was like a dream come true to hear that. But on the other hand, until that point, I had felt like a normal intern. No one was expecting much of me. But now, all of a sudden, I felt that the situation was actually putting some pressure on me.
I remember laughing and telling my boss that I actually felt like now I felt some pressure to keep proving myself. My boss laughed back, we made it a joke and I walked away feeling very happy and good about myself… and about my whole life!… Not really knowing what was going to happen…
The next day I was invited with five other selected interns to go and meet one of the higher-ranking people of this organization. It was right after lunch. I’d had a good meal and two very strong cups of coffee made by an American fellow intern of mine who absolutely adored coffee and knew how to make it really strong.
We sat down at the table of this higher-ranking guy’s office. And then, the doors closed.
If any of you ever had a panic attack, I think you may know the feeling I had at this point. I felt trapped. I thought to myself “oh my gosh, there is no food around, there is no water around, there’s nothing but those people that I’m kind of scared of right now… and I have no escape! I can’t go out. I shouldn’t go out because it would make me look really, really strange. What if I faint? What if I need food?…”
This was my first ever panic attack and it was really, really strong. I think the meeting went on for two or three hours and it felt like my heart was pumping full speed all the time. It felt like I was running a sprint for three hours. It was really exhausting. Lights were blinding me and I was looking in the corners to try and avoid feeling blinded by the brightness. I was basically overwhelmed.
At least I was enough to know exactly that this was a panic attack. Some people believe that they’re about to have a heart attack or to die when they’re actually just focusing their attention too much on physical symptoms.
That day, when I went back home, I really needed to talk to someone I knew wouldn’t be judging me. I called my mom, first. Of course, as expected and as always, she was very understanding.
I told her “Mom, maybe I’ve been aiming too high. Maybe I should bring it down a notch and not have such crazy dreams. I should probably just find a regular job and then I would not freak out so easily.”
My mom reassured me and told me that she had experienced 2 or 3 panic attacks herself when she was a late teenager. “Whatever you do,” she said, “we’ll be on your side and supporting you. Do what feels good to you, okay?”
It felt like a big relief. And I honestly was feeling pretty good about the idea of NOT FOLLOWING MY DREAMS.
Then, I decided to call my dad. I told him the same story, and came to the same conclusion – I said “Look, I think that’s all a little too high for me, maybe I should bring it down a notch and just find something regular, easy in order to have my peace.”
Here goes the answer my father gave me. “Anja, you’re talking NONSENSE”. I was actually a bit shocked… That’s not the answer I was expecting! See, my father had always been very supportive. We understand each other quite well. “What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well” he went on, “you know what’s happening to you, right?”
“No..?” I said, expecting a major insight from my dad. “You’re afraid,” he said.
“Thanks daaaad for the quick psychoanalysis, what a breakthrough! Of course, I’m afraid, that’s the point of the whole story!” I said, making fun of my father’s reaction.
But then he went on “well and do you know what to do against fear? You confront it! Otherwise, it’s going to ruin your life… it’ll become bigger, and bigger, and it’ll follow you around forever making you more and more miserable.”
I didn’t really like to admit it, but he was absolutely right.
Those words were a strong enough motivation for me. I started researching the whole internet intensively for the next couple of weeks, looking for advice, looking for a way to solve my problem. I researched using every single language I knew. And, remember, this happened about 10 years ago. Today I would probably find much more material on the topic. But back then, I was only hitting spammy and scammy websites. They were all offering a miracle solution, with weird testimonies, at a high price.
I refused to pay a penny to any of those scammy-looking websites. “I’m not that desperate… yet…” I thought to myself. I was afraid to fall into the next trap, spending money out of desperation for things that weren’t going to work. But I could see why people would eventually end up paying the money hoping to get rid of their panic attacks. Mine were getting stronger and stronger, and I felt scared and helpless.
Every day, after work, I would sit down and rig more and more testimonies. Unfortunately, all these testimonies gave me plenty of new ideas of where and when panic attacks could ALSO happen. Situations that felt totally safe for me before started being potential threats, too. For instance, I remember reading this testimony of a woman who felt trapped when taking a train ride. I read through all of her thoughts and fears. And I started feeling the same way on the tram, bus, or train.
From then on, my panic attacks just started building up, and up, and up. So, I was basically having panic attacks in most situations involving other people. It all happened so quickly. It took me less than a month to evolve from having my first panic attack to becoming agoraphobic.
What’s It Like Being Agoraphobic?
It may be a bit different from one person to another.
I, personally, remember waking up and being flooded with fear right when I opened my eyes. What was I afraid of? Simple. I was afraid of going out of my room and confronting the world outside. I knew I had to go out and be around people. I was so scared of “them”.
Now, some of you may think that I had a strong predisposition for this, or maybe that I am an extreme introvert or an autist. You couldn’t be further away from the truth. I’ve always liked going to school, going to work, being surrounded by people. I am a little introvert and I certainly don’t like facing a crowd to hold a speech, but other than that, I’m pretty “average” I would say.
Actually, just about 1-2 weeks before I became agoraphobic, I read a testimony of a woman that went from having panic attacks to being agoraphobic. On a phone call with my mom, I told her about my research and what I’d learned about panic attacks. Then I added, “I even read about this woman who became agoraphobic, but luckily, that’s definitely not going to happen to me” – and we both had a big laugh at the very idea that I – me, Anja – could be scared of people. LOL.
And then, it happened. My head, my mind, had become my prison. I was also able to be rational about it. I knew that those were all unjustified fears. I knew there was no ACTUAL reason to feel scared. But I also knew that knowing this was not solving the problem, unfortunately. There was something unexplainable about this whole irrational mind-mechanism that had led me to this endless fear loop.
The first day of agoraphobia was awful. I was scared when walking on the street, taking the tram, and working in my office with the other interns. Basically, I felt like everyone was paying close attention and would laugh at me or be disappointed if I was to faint or do anything abnormal.
The worst moment of the day was having lunch at the organization’s big canteen. There were just too many people around me. Not only my friends and other interns, but all the professionals working for this big organization. It felt like a glass wall was separating me from everyone else. “They” could not understand what I was going through. “They” would judge me.
My whole workday was exhausting. My heart was beating at a fast rate most of the day. When I came back home in the evening, my fears were still there. It felt like there was no way to shake them off.
The next day, when I woke up and instantly felt this intense fear again, I began feeling slightly depressed. Was it worth living a life like that? Being scared of going out and seeing others?
This slight depressive feeling felt like a wake-up call. It really, really did NOT feel like me. See, I’m a born optimist. I can get sad, I can feel doubt and fear, but I never feel really depressed. I always see the bright side. In my darkest moments, I always deeply know that everything is going to get better.
So, when I started feeling slightly depressed, it made me ANGRY. I decided that I was not going to let this fear change me. So, with a lot of effort, I made my second day somewhat better. My anger gave me more strength to confront my fears. However, when I came back home, I had to recognize that actively confronting my fears was tough work. I felt exhausted. I was not sure how long I could keep going on like this until full exhaustion. I felt like I may need some medication to go through the day if it were to go on like this. And that’s the last thing I wanted!
How I Cured My Panic Attacks
Luckily enough, my research paid off just when I started dealing with agoraphobia. I stumbled upon the MC2 method. It’s a series of about 8 short tracks that will give you some insight into the method itself and a few short meditation practices. The method seemed to be everything that I was hoping for. It was simple, easy, FREE. What did I have to lose?
The website claimed that the free method would be enough to cure me of my panic attacks and agoraphobia. Donations were accepted in case the method really helped.
I was so desperate, I would have tried anything that was up for free and claiming it could help me.
So, after I’d had this exhausting day, trying to fight off my fear with all of my anger, on my own, I decided that it was about time to try out the MC2 method.
Right after work, when I came back home, I sat on my bed and I went through the 8 tracks. The meditation practice was really interesting. It was not like the typical relaxing meditation. This practice was not about getting calm and peaceful. It was exactly the contrary. I was a bit surprised at first but it made so much sense in hindsight.
The meditation was all about confronting your fears. I just had to sit there and imagine the worst-case scenario for me. What’s the absolute worst thing that could happen to me? And then, I had to observe my mind and body’s reaction to it. It was all about accepting the fear, and just letting it be and living with it for about 10 minutes or so.
This was groundbreaking. I felt like I was understanding the whole panic attack-mechanism better. It was all just a self-made prison. But I was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The next day, I woke up and… I couldn’t believe it. The agoraphobia was gone. GONE! No fear of going out, no fear of confronting others. I was amazed and so grateful.
I kept on doing this meditation regularly for a while to get rid of all my fears little by little. The meditation basically took out the negative spiral related to panic attacks. During a panic attack, somehow, you’re afraid because you know your fear will come and paralyze you. So you fear your fear. It becomes a vicious circle and the meditation helped me de-trigger this cycle.
However, although my panic attacks and agoraphobia were instantly cured, it took me a few months to stop feeling somewhat anxious about those situations popping up. What I mean is that I was still a little bit afraid a panic attack may happen in certain situations – such as a team meeting – even though it never did again. It simply took me three to four more months to be able to erase this idea of my mind that I could even have a panic attack or get scared in a specific situation.
I’m so grateful that this method worked so well for me. Back then, for some reason, I was not ready to see a psychologist. It felt like admitting that something was seriously wrong with me. Rationally, I knew this would have been the right thing to do in my case. But I was afraid of losing too much time trying to find a good psychologist that would suit my needs. I also didn’t want to go on medication, I was very scared of becoming dependent on pills to go through my day. I also was just assuming that it would be a year-long process at least to go through therapy and recover. I thought my life would be ruined by the time I’d start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Back then, all those prejudices were preventing me from seeing a professional. Obviously, I don’t recommend you follow my lead on this. It’s definitely a good idea to get professional advice and support. You can try the method on your own but still undergo proper therapy, that will most probably help you dig deeper and find out what’s lying underneath your symptoms.
Facing The Deeper Fears
The meditation helped me push away the clouds away. However, I realized that the panic attack mechanism was one thing but that there must have been a reason why my fears came up in the first place.
When I thought about it, my fear felt absolutely ridiculous. The worst-case scenario in my life was to disappoint my bosses. I really liked the team. I loved the work. Getting a job there felt like an impossible dream. Yet they thought I was worthy of this position…? To me, it felt like my bosses simply had built up high expectations about me. I didn’t feel like I had done anything to deserve such a treatment. Were my work and commitment really so great? I straight out doubted it.
I’d only been working there for four weeks. So, I just didn’t understand their praise. I was so afraid that my next move was going to be my downfall and that I would fall from that pedestal and really disappoint them and hurt myself in the process.
Realizing what my deeper fear was felt actually shocking to me. I had been setting myself a clear goal for at least five years to become self-confident because I knew I was really, really lacking on that part.
I thought I had made so much progress. I was gathering experiences, studying at a great university, and I thought that by doing all of these things and proving to myself that I can do a lot it would be enough to become self-confident.
But it wasn’t, and that’s when I realized that I wasn’t putting in the real work. I wasn’t assimilating my progress and I wasn’t accepting compliments. I was always pushing away positive feedback. I was like “no, no, no, I’m not good. I may have done this right, but that doesn’t mean anything because in any other situation I’d probably fail. I’m bad…”
My negative self-talk was pulling me back and definitely unhealthy. So, in a way, my panic attacks really helped me recognize one of my biggest issues. One of the worst character traits a person could have, to me, was arrogance. And subconsciously, I was trying to make sure that I would never become arrogant by simply blocking out any type of positive feedback I received.
But not anymore. I had a bit of a revelation. I knew that I had no choice if I wanted mental sanity in the long term. I had to accept compliments and become self-confident. And I knew I could be self-confident in a humble way. That’s what really helped me make a leap forward.
A few months later, I experience panic attacks related to flights. This was new to me, as I had always loved traveling by plane. However, my fears just found a loophole and tried to resurface in a different area. Luckily, I used the very same method and was able to completely cure myself of flight panic attacks as well.
Since then, I’ve learned that fears are there to be faced. Whenever a fear comes up, I let it be. I observe it. If it keeps coming back, becoming stronger and stronger, then I know it’s time to take action. I confront it. I always get back to this one essential question “What’s the absolute worst-case scenario”, I imagine it and I learn to “live with it”.
I’m very thankful that someone decided to put up this free website online and just offer a solution. Meditation saved my life, and I’ve now integrated it as a daily habit into my routine.