Panic attacks, derealisation and depression – change?

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    Hey everbody out there! I’ve been moved by this forum and how people are trying to help and support one another. I’m going through a difficult and confusing time myself and could use some advice.
    I have always been a withdrawn person and very shy. I have problems talking to people, the more I care about them and what they think, the more self conscious and closed up I get. I’m 21 now and high school has been like torture for me. I constantly felt stupid and boring because I had such difficulties talking to others. I did have a couple good friends I could count on, but I felt very lonely with myself and kept asking myself what’s wrong with me.
    Now I just got back two months ago from 10 months of travelling through Canada; those months were amazing but coming back has been so difficult. I was resenting everything around me, my parents, my hometown, the idea of going to college – I think what’s so hard for me is that I am scared to fall back into old pattern. I realized how scared and depressed I had been all those years. It’s like I was always trying to hide from real life, mostly by watching stupid tv shows and eating, or by escaping into a totally different world in my head where I was the happy, smart, confident and funny girl I wanted to be. When I came to Canada, I soon met my (now ex-) boyfriend who sort of pulled me out of myself and back into the world. I was more present than ever, if you know what I mean. It was difficult too, for both of us, I probably wasn’t ready for a relationship that close, but I learned a lot about myself and how I keep avoiding things I am so afraid of. So then I came back and I missed my boyfriend, the farmwork and freedom like hell. About two weeks after I got back to Germany, I started having very strong panic attacks, I felt like I was in a dream most of the time and that life was totally out of control. I started meditating a lot every day and got a little better. Now most of the time I can handle rising panic, but still – I feel like my body is yelling at me to stop this madness and start listening to what’s going on inside me and my mind is yelling at me to stop overthinking. I don’t know what to do. I know I feel better when I talk to people, get out of my head a little, but it’s also very eyhausting. Sometimes when I walk through the city, I feel so disconnected from everybody, it makes me sad that I’m thinking: If somebody’s gonna speak to me or accidentally touch me, I can’t take it.
    I’m also having a hard time getting along with my parents. They worry about me and try to help me, but I find myself resenting them. I blame them for making me being scared to disappoint them all the time, for making me this person. I always felt controlled and supervised by them, like I was under a permanent spotlight and this feeling is hard to shake. When they tell me, they’re always there for me, I feel aggressive and the urge to retreat. At the same time I feel guilty and sad they have to worry about me so much.

    I just don’t know what’s going on. Sometimes I feel like this is just the process of change and it’s basically a good thing that I finally feel I’m not treating myself well. I started to open up to my parents and my sister a little, which is something I never could before, and I am curious to talk to people, to learn to enjoy them and learn from that. At the same time I am frustrated with myself that I cannot finally get over myself and my fears and it stresses me that I can’t go anywhere without being afraid of having another panic attack or suddenly feeling unreal which makes it very hard to concentrate on other people. I don’t really know how to do things differently if I can’t change the way I am thinking. I just feel like I can’t hold all of this in any longer which makes me feel a bit crazy at times. So thanks for listening!


    Hi Hannah,

    I am sorry you are going through this and all I can tell you is that it happens to a lot of people. It sounds like you are trying to leave the nest, as you should!, and you and your parents both are struggling with it? It’s a “tug and pull” when you are young, and it can cause a lot of conflicting emotions. But as you get older you will know it’s OK to start making your decisions based upon what you want.

    About the panic attacks and living in your head wishing you were someone different. I know how that feels. In my case, I have struggled with anxiety and OCD all my life. You would never know it to meet me – I appear social and funny, and I am intelligent – BUT I have inward panic attacks all the time. “Did I say something wrong to this person? Did I do THAT to someone else?” “DO people think I’m a loser?” Stupid stuff I know, but I still question myself. One thing I have come to understand is that many many people deal with anxiety and self doubt – it’s just a part of life. And hopefully there will be those times when we realize we are OK, just the way we are. Life is a process after all.

    Anyway, just wanted to say you aren’t alone and hang in there! It will get better.


    Yes…it is possible….it has worked ….for me.

    My life has turned around….hugely.

    it takes a certain amount of work…and patience, but…it works…it’s up to you…you are totally responsible…let me know if you want to know more. No catch, I post on here, so it’s open, and your decision.



    I’m sorry for the confusion and pressure you experience, and know how disorienting it can be to walk through a maze of needs and feelings and thoughts. When any moment could bring uncertainty and danger, life can appear like a minefield we’re forced to walk though blindfolded. Don’t despair sister, there is always a path to joy. A few things came to heart as I read your words.

    First, meditation isn’t really about controlling thoughts, and we don’t usually succeed in trying to control our mind in that way. We can try to cover the thoughts with new thoughts, such as saying “I’m a good person” every time a thought arises, but that doesn’t uproot, only suppresses. Meditation helps us see that thoughts are empty, meaningless whispers from past conditioning. For instance, perhaps your parents were very attentive (and perhaps critical of mistakes) which was painful for you. In order to avoid the pain, your mind perhaps tries to see mistakes before they happen, to protect your tender heart.

    Unfortunately, that’s a failing strategy for the mind, because we are going to make mistakes. Its unavoidable, and so no matter how skillfully we navigate, we are bound to trip and fall. As the mind realizes this, it tries to avoid making choices, avoids opening itself up to errors and the pain that arises alongside them.

    This is why meditation is so helpful in overcoming our history. As we sit with thoughts and just let them be, we begin to realize they don’t control us. Thoughts come, thoughts go. The wind blows, the rains come, the clouds clear… nature being natural. They are like streamers that burst out of our unhealed wounds, which is helpful in finding the wounds, but otherwise don’t inherently do anything… nothing to be feared.

    That being said, they still happen, and it’d be nice to feel peaceful. There are a couple things that come to heart from your situation. First, parents often make mistakes in how to raise and protect and teach their children. It sucks, and far worse for the parents… because not only are they often a product of their environment (learned behaviors from their parents and teachers) but most parents love their children intensely, fiercely, and any pain the child experiences strikes their heart. The reason I say this is because many children have to confront their disappointment in their parents in order to be free. It would be nice to blame your parents for where you are, but then you’d have to blame their parents for where they are, and your great grandparents for where your grandparents were… and on and on the spiral of blame goes back to primal man and woman clubbing each other over the head. Its nonsense, binding rather than freeing.

    Instead, we can accept the imperfect nature of our parents and teachers, and use the skillful and throw out the unskillful. The minefield your parents threw out for you, for instance, seems to have helped to make a woman who has incredibly strong awareness. I was amazed and surprised how intricately self aware you are, how powerfully astute your observations are about what arises inside you. Sure, the stuff that arises is painful right now, but you see! You notice! That is awesome.

    To cast off the painfulness and get your body feeling happy again is not a big thing. It seems big, but it really isn’t. Because you are so aware, you’ll learn really fast. The key is self nurturing. You have to be kind to your body, gentle with it. Patient with it. Consider that you have some painful baggage, much like a sprained ankle, and so just stomping around without care produces a lot of pain. Self nurturing is what heals the hurt in the heart, because where it once looked to mommy and daddy for care, it can now turn inward and meet its own needs. For instance, going on walks in nature, taking a bubble bath with candles, listening to gentle music, working out… the actions which you do that remind your body of the beauty, gentleness and kindness of this world. This refuels the body, invigorates it, so it can weather the unknown with grace.

    Speaking of grace, consider pausing for a week or two on meditating, and switch over to metta meditation. Metta is the feeling of friendly warmth inside us, and is highly self nurturing. When we are full and radiant with metta, the mind becomes smooth and peaceful. “Sharon Salzburg metta guided” on YouTube would probably strike you well, and even once a day for a week will probably produce noticeable relief. Its much different when we walk around feeling, knowing, that we’re the light in the world, rather than wondering where to find it. Namaste, sister, may you find peace.

    With warmth,


    Don’t be passive!!!!


    And keep it simple!!

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