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"I Beat My Panic Attacks with Karate"

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Within two years of discovering karate, my panic attacks stopped altogether and I was able, under my doctor's guidance, to stop taking medication (as a very welcome bonus, I also dropped about 10 pounds). But the real test -- a solo trip like that terrible one to Germany all those years ago -- didn't present itself for another year. After a discussion with my psychiatrist, I decided to book a trip to Arkansas to visit a business acquaintance whom I had never met in person. Armed with a just-in-case supply of the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, I packed my bags and headed for the airport.

It could have been the perfect storm of panic attacks: I was on a plane (scary) on my way to meet a person I had never laid eyes on (scarier) in a place I had never been (scariest of all). But miraculously, nothing happened. That night, alone in my hotel room, I practiced deep breathing and meditated. I performed kata in my head. The Xanax stayed in the bottle.

I believe that karate was my salvation. Not only can I now handle speaking in public, I actually enjoy it. I can travel anytime, anywhere, with anyone without having a panic attack. I know that a pounding heart, shortness of breath, or clammy hands are just feelings, not portents of doom. I have nothing to fear.

Originally published in Fitness magazine, February 2006.


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warmelephant wrote:

I have read this twice now as I am doing my first Karate class this evening. I do not get panic attacks but I suffer badly from General Anxiety. I am terrified of this class as I know there are going to be people watching me and I'm afraid I'll mess it all up but I have always tried to face my fears and doing this is the next step to fighting my anxiety. Your article is inspiring and very reassuring, although I'm pretty worried about doing the katas. Wish me luck!

1/9/2014 05:02:31 AM Report Abuse

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