When You Feel Pinned Down, Ring The Bell!

Panic attacks are never fun. Never ever. At least for those of us in the middle of one, although they are pretty comical at times for those watching I am sure. 

I can’t remember a time I felt quite so vulnerable during one as I did yesterday. A few weeks ago a friend encouraged me to try acupuncture to help with 'emotional and mental wellness’. Apparently my friend noticed I needed some ‘wellness’. You can read between the lines, it has been a rough few weeks.

Just so I am clear and honest, I didn’t realize acupuncture meant puncturing my skin with little needles. I don’t know what rock I have been living under all of these years... 

So yesterday I threw caution to the wind and went for it. I was picturing more of a cupping of sorts I think. Actually in hindsight, I don’t know what I was picturing. Maybe I was more focused on the 30 minute massage afterwards.  

As I was laying on table and the nice lady walked me through the process, everything sounded just fine. Her soothing voice helped. Then she began the treatment. Starting with my ankles, “Ok, that’s different, but I am fine…” I thought to myself. Then she put a couple of needles in my tummy and that my friends is when my panic attack began… 

I couldn’t breathe. My chest tightened and I began to sweat. I assure you it had nothing to do with the treatment or the needles themselves, you can barely feel them—it’s more like a dull pressure than anything else. But in general I am not a ’needle’ person. I tend to pass out when I give blood. It’s no wonder drugs that needed to be injected by needles were never a temptation to me… you lost me at ‘needle’. 

Again, the panic had NOTHING to do with the acupuncture—in fact, I am now totally sold on acupuncture. I slept more soundly last night than I ever have! Not kidding. For the first time I didn’t cat-nap all night and I don’t think it was a ‘coincidence’. More about acupuncture another time, this post is about anxiety...

Back to yesterday’s panic attack. I have found that panic attacks are somewhat like “what came first the chicken or the egg?”.

I couldn’t take a deep breath so I began to panic. OR I began to panic so I couldn’t take a deep breath. Either way, I couldn’t breathe and there is no point in trying to figure that or anything else out during a panic attack. 

I felt like the room was closing in on me. I assure you the room did NOT change in that moment. My brain in panic mode, changed. I thought for sure I was going to pass out because of the lack of oxygen. In a matter of seconds I thought to myself, “I am going to be the first person in the history of humanity who died during acupuncture”. Have I mentioned I have anxiety issues at times? I had a flash of the paramedics coming to try to resuscitate me. 

Ironically, in that moment I assured the nice lady I was "just fine and to please continue". Because that is what ‘we’ do, ‘we' power through. After she finished placing the rest of the needles, she assured me she would be right outside the door in case I needed her and she would check on me in 15 minutes. “15 minutes!? Outside what door?!”—I thought (with a few more colorful adjectives that I was sure had been sanctified and matured out of me by now).

Then a sweet moment of comfort came… she brought me a bell. 4 ounces of metal that brought me more peace than I can possibly describe. So much peace I began to cry a little. 

I held it in my hand like it was my lifeline to living. 

I thought about ringing it 100 times, but never did. Slowly I began to calm down. Something about knowing I would be heard if I rang the bell brought me so much peace.

Then it hit me. I just want to be heard. Don’t we all just want to be heard? Maybe that is one of the reasons I write. I just want to know my voice counts and that someone is listening. You are listening right?...

For the next several minutes as I laid there, I reflected on all the ways I am ‘heard’ in this life, and some of the ways I feel like I am not. I began to thank God for the people in my life that actually listen… the art of listening is quickly becoming a ‘lost art’ in our world of ‘go, go, go’ and technology.  Being heard is a fundamental need in all of us. Young and old. And we all deserve that gift. 

If you don’t feel like you have many to listen for your ‘bells’—start by listening for others bells and I assure you, most will begin to listen for yours as well. I also want to encourage us all to thank those in our life who are in fact listening for our ‘bells’. 

Our Pastor this weekend said that in a moment of desperation…send up a ‘flair prayer’. A desperate plea for God to answer. I have noticed some of us (myself included) don’t pray as much for our own needs because we have been let down before by people in our life. 

We correlate former authority figures in our life and their lack of response to our needs as how God would or would not respond. But God is not some distant, distracted authority figure. He is present, very attentive and listening for our bells. 

In some ways I wish I would have rung the bell yesterday just to prove she would come running to meet my panicky need. But I will never know because I never rang it. 

I know for much of my life I never really wanted to ‘ring the bell’. I never wanted to bother anyone, let alone God with my anxiety, fears and losses.

The bottom line for me is I never rang the bell because I didn’t want to take a chance that no one would come. When we are let down time and time again we tend to believe that is how it is.

Then one day I rang the bell… mostly out of pure desperation and angst. 

And I have been ringing the bell ever since…  

Psalm 91:15 “He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

Someone today needs to know He will come if you ring the bell… maybe that someone is me. 

Ring the bell. 

Love and blessing to you all,

Dani

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