At today’s therapy session with my brain doctor, she tried to “break me down.” I felt like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting in the scene where Robin Williams, as his therapist, repeats “it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault” until he broke down and cried. I didn’t break down and cry because it’s not near the end of the movie for me yet, I’m still in the beginning stages where I stay in control, even in therapy.
Also, my brain doc, wasn’t convincing me it wasn’t my fault (that’s impossible, it’s clearly ALL MY FAULT, because, despite my other insecurities, I think I can somehow control the universe). Instead, she wanted to understand my deepest fears; the same ones which rear their ugly head to cause my pesky panic attacks.
In our first session, she taught me to “say yes” to emotions rather than suppress them or fight them. Don’t try to end the panic attack, ride the wave. Don’t try to get rid of the nauseated sensation, just move on with your day, because no one has ever, and I will not be the first, to die of a panic attack.
In our second session, she wanted me to confront my fear of death and realize “not wanting to” was different from “being afraid” and when I accepted the inevitable, my body would react appropriately and not secrete quite so much ‘fight or flight’ hormone.
Today’s lesson was “so what?” No matter what I said – no matter how extreme – her answer to me was SO WHAT? Being the worst consequence to any scenario for me is death when I finally answered “death,” she said, SO WHAT? This obsessing, worrying, over-dramatizing, over-analyzing and overall desire for perfection causes me secondary suffering, which affects my everyday life and doesn’t need to be there. If my apartment is not immaculate when guests come over? SO WHAT? If my latkes aren’t the best they’ve ever had? SO WHAT? If my present isn’t the one they rave about for years? SO WHAT? If I don’t finish everything? SO WHAT?
The reality is none of the potential hypothetical ramifications I work through in my head are worth the emotional weight I give them. SO WHAT if I’m having a panic attack? I have to stop trying so hard to make them stop coming. This is just what I get – like eczema and apparently, it’s not so much about eliminating the attacks altogether, it’s about learning not to give them the power to slow me down – or take me down, for that matter.
As I move into 2017, I realize on top of learning to meditate, do yoga, and master the art of doing nothing, I now have added “learn to truly NOT GIVE A SHIT” onto that list. Or at least I have to practice not giving a shit enough for the neurological pathways in my brain to cement themselves into highways which become habits. Until my instincts say “so what” instead of “what if?”