Pattern-Interrupt Practice
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When I was 8 years old I was standing on the sidelines watching a baseball game.  Suddenly a hard ball WHACKED me in the chest.  I was stunned and shaken, but ultimately thought I was alright.  A few minutes later I began to feel my chest tighten and it became hard to breath.  I told my friends I had to be home and hopped on my bike towards home.  As I peddled up the hill near my house it felt like a train rushing through my head...I couldn’t breath!  Gasping, I threw my bike and ran up the hill screaming for my mother.  My mother ran out and called an ambulance as I struggled to breath.  I was given oxygen which helped and spent one night in the hospital for observation.  They couldn’t find anything wrong and I was released the next morning.

St. John's.jpg

Here is my 5th grade class. 

I’m the girl with the big smile a circle around her head.  Little did I know I had an emotional cocktail brewing inside.

This was only the beginning of a long series of attacks.  I continued to have attacks gasping for breath the following year. Unfortunately, not much was known about panic attacks in the 60's.  Repeated visits to the doctor showed no pathology and everyone (including my family) kept telling me I was fine.  I thought they were lying and I was dying! I was scard to leave the house; I refused to go to school and stopped seeing my friends.  The gasping episodes continued (sometimes at night and other times during the day).


To keep me occupied at home my mother decided to buy me a paint-by-number set which were very popular at the time. I was fascinated by all the colors and squiggles and became excited as a horse's eye began to take shape.

One afternoon as I was painting my chest began to tighten.  Normally I would run to my mother with a powerful ringing in my ears and a numb tingling escalating thoughout my body.  But on this particular afternoon as my chest began to tighten (before the ringing and numbness came on) I heard a small voice and felt a compelling nudge to focus...focus...just focus and keep painting.  So I did and the feeling ebbed away.  I continued to paint that day not thinking much about what had just occurredAs time went on I continued to wake up some nights in a full blown panic attack.  My parents felt helpless.  I silently thought I was going to die young and would secretly mark off the dates on a calendar thinking my time is coming near. There seemed to be nothing the doctors could do at this point so my grandmother recommended a healer in Canada.  My parents thought they had nothing to lose so we drove up to Canada while my grandmother and I sat in the back seat.  When we arrived we stopped by a local church to ask the maintanence man where he was located. He told us that he was ill, he was no longer doing the work and had been hospitalized.  

I remember returning home late that night tired, exhausted and confused. Honestly, going to see a healer freaked me out! 

Shortly after our trip I had an episode in the night.  Shaken by another episode I was sitting with my parents at the kitchen table discussing my issue in the middle of the night. My dad suddenly remembered an article he read about a woman who was riding the subway in NYC who had experienced trying to catch her breath.  He went on to share she couldn’t even remember how she made it home that day and said "maybe you're experiencing the same thing”.  That night I felt some hope that maybe, just maybe I was going to live.  

A short time after this we were visiting my grandmother on Easter Sunday.  I was playing with my cousins and began to feel my chest tighten.  I then remembered the time I heard a voice telling me to focus.  I went outside and sat quietly on my grandmothers porch. I began to imagine sitting at my paint table at home, I imagined smelling the paints and seeing the color as I applied the brush to the canvas.  I then noticed the tightness was ebbing away and an empowering calm came over my body.  After that things began to turn around for me.  


So as traumatic as this experience was, it also empowered me and shaped who I am today. Neuroscientists now know the brain has the ability to modify connections (re-wire itself). Einstein said “Our emotional brain does not know the difference between imagination and reality”.   In my case this was what took place on my grandmother's porch.  I learned first hand from my experience that our imagination is a gift and can help us move through difficulties.  Like any muscle though it's needs to be exercised and to be honest it takes a lot of practice, yet in my opinion the rewards are worth it!

©2014 ●Vision To Lead

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