(Note: this post is part of a series about navigating my way through the 10 Rules for Coping with Panic, which is a nifty little list I keep in my wallet. To read the introduction to this series, check out this post: Coping with Panic: Why I Can’t, and Why I Can.)
THE NINTH RULE
Plan what to do next. When you begin to feel better, look around you and start to plan what to do next.
This time, I’m not going to describe why this step might be difficult or easy. I think those things are obvious.
But here’s what I will say: scale.
Yup. Scale. Think about this rule in varying scales.
You panic on a Monday afternoon. You get through Rules #1-8. You approach Rule #9 and you plan what to do next: you calculate your moves. You determine how and when to stand up. You decide that soon, you’ll get back into your car.
You decide — but don’t yet act — to walk back into the mall or grocery store. Using the brain that so misled you earlier on Monday during the midst of the attack, you plan to return to the scene of the panic attack.
That works, right? It does. It works on a small scale. It works when we view panic as an acute instance that rises and resolves itself within the hour.
But let’s say you’re making some major progress in your recovery from panic disorder. Your life was hell a few months ago, but now, you’re managing through many aspects of daily life with greater ease. Rule #9, then, tells us that it’s time to reflect. You’ve begun to feel better, yes, but in a larger way this time.
Plan what to do next — not in the next hour, but in the next month. In the next year. Are you where you want to be in life? What has coping with panic elucidated for you? Is it time to quit that hellish job? Is it time to move? It is time to start a family? Is it time to make some other large and sweeping change?
Here, the rule works on a large scale. It works when we view panic as a trait, not a state — a trait that enters into your life, rises, and resolves itself within a month or a year or a decade.
My point is this: no matter where you are on the road to recovery, Rule #9 applies to you. Use it to get back on the road, literally or figuratively, depending on the scale of your panic.
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Last reviewed: 24 Sep 2012