Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far. ― Jodi Picoult, Sing You Home

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippiansn 4.5-7)

Have you ever had a panic attack? I had one this week. I was feeling fine, hopeful after getting the first sound sleep I had gotten in days. I was going about my morning routine, doing a devotional in fact. Suddently out of nowhere a tightness gripped my chest. My breathing became labored. I had no idea what was happening to me.

I called the pharmacist. He reviewed my medication. He said nothing would indicate that I was going through a drug interaction. He advised me to contact my psychiatric nurse practitioner. I called and left a message. I took one of my prn meds for anxiety and called a telehealth counselor provided by my insurance company. They discussed with me strategies to keep calm. Soothing music. A meditation podcast. Herbal tea. I asked for pray from my Facebook friends and followers and asked,

I’m eager to hear strategies for coping with panic attacks. What do you do to calm down?

I got 93 comments, including some very helpful suggestions like these:

Get outside in nature if you can. Observe the sights, sounds, smells. Breathe it all in. Exhale the panic and anxiety!

Exercise and reading novels that take me away.

I used to get under the covers, the weight helped. Now I would use a weighted blanket. Earbuds with light music also.

The best one I know is 5 4 3 2 1. Name 5 things you can see, 4 you can feel, 3 you can hear, two you can smell, one you can taste. It’s especially good for trauma responses.

It was good to hear from so many offering hope for my well- being. The worst thing about the experience of anxiety is the feeling that you are alone. I appreciated having friends with me, even virtually. I felt surrounded by prayer and loving concern.

My panic didn’t last. My prescriber called back and gave me a medication strategy that not only has helped stave off anxiety but has helped give me restful sleep four consecutive nights. The terrible fatigue I was experience has lessened and I have been more productive than I’ve been in months. One way I gauge my functioning level is by looking at my Inbox. I read every email as they come in but when I’m not doing well, I respond only to the most pressing and leave the others to accumulate in my Inbox. Earlier this week, I had 265 messages in my Inbox awaiting action. Now I have less than 10.

Scripture reminds us that that we have no need to be anxious. This does not mean we won’t feel this way or that God is going to berate us for having a panic attack. Quite the opposite. The Bible says the Lord is near, assuring us that we are not alone, offering us peace when we feel like we are falling to pieces. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter who brings to our minds wonderful calm in Jesus Christ.