By R. Kane
The names and some details have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.
I went with some friends to a mountain cabin for a week-long vacation. The four of us had been counting down this trip for months via excited text messages from our various homes scattered across the U.S.
When the first day of our vacation finally arrived, we were ecstatic, albeit bleary-eyed from travel. We each unpacked and fell into bed. The next few days were gorgeous. We’d wake up, take turns making breakfast, go for a walk in the woods, read excerpts to each other from our books, indulge in ice cream after dinner. Everything was good. Everyone seemed to be having an excellent time.
In the middle of the third night, I felt a hand on my shoulder gently shaking me awake.
“Becca! Can you come help? Gwen’s having a panic attack!”
I squinted through the dark to see my friend’s partner looking down at me with worried eyes. I got up and rushed into their room to see my friend Gwen sitting up in bed rocking and crying with her face in her hands. I looked at the clock–3:38 a.m.
I sat down on the bed, put my hand on her back, and tried comforting, her but she couldn’t stop crying, couldn’t even look at me, and just kept saying, “It’s too much. It’s just all too much.”
Gwen and I were close and I knew she’d had a panic attack in the middle of the night several months ago on the one-year anniversary of a dog attack that had left scars on her face. She would have called me that night, but I was out of the country. I knew it’d taken her a while to come out of it.
I quickly asked her partner what they’d been talking about. She said that they’d been up since we all went to bed at 11 p.m. and the conversation had gotten increasingly stressful as they talked about their future. Now she thought Gwen was so tired and so stressed that it’d triggered something in her to cause the panic attack. Gwen just kept rocking and saying, “It’s too much. It’s just too much.”
I’d never been around someone having a panic attack before and it was scary to see my friend in such a state. Since comforting her wasn’t helping at all, I fell back on my EFT training. Gwen didn’t want me tap on her, so I put my hand on the closest thing to me–her bare ankle–and, as calmly as I could, began to tap:
Even though this is all too much, I love and accept myself.
Even though this is all too much and I’m so tired, I’m doing the best I can.
Even though I’m so overwhelmed right now, I love and accept myself completely.
Eyebrow (EB): So overwhelmed.
Side of the eye (SE): Too much.
Under the eye (UE): I’m exhausted.
Under the nose (UN): All this crying.
Chin (CH): It’s just too much.
Collarbone (CB): I can’t stop crying.
Under the arm (UA): This panic attack. All this overwhelm.
Top of the Head (TH): I can’t make it stop.
EB: So, so tired.
SE: I’m not sure why this is happening.
UE: I don’t need to know.
UN: I can let it go.
CH: I can let go of all this panic.
CB: I can start to calm down.
UA: I’m safe.
TW: I’m safe and loved.
TH: No matter what happens, I’m going to be okay.
Gwen was starting to breathe more deeply now, so I asked her if she could tell me what happened.
She said that she and her partner had been talking about how they wanted different things and she didn’t want to have to choose between the life she knew she wanted–having kids–and her partner. Then she started to cry again.
Even though I don’t want to have to choose because that’s just too much, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Even though I don’t know what’s going to happen and that makes me feel scared, I’m doing the best I can.
Even though I’m so overwhelmed at the thought of having to choose between the love of my life and having kids, I completely and deeply accept myself.
EB: All this remaining overwhelm
SE: What am I going to do?
UE: I can’t choose.
UN: It’s just too much.
CH: All this fear of the unknown.
CB: I don’t want to have to choose.
UA: I want both.
TW: It makes me feel sad to think about choosing.
TH: It’s all too much.
EB: What if I didn’t have to choose?
SE: What if it’s too early to know what’s going to happen?
UE: Or what if there was a third way that I don’t know about yet?
UN: What if I’m worrying for nothing?
CH: But still I feel overwhelmed.
CB: What if I didn’t have to feel overwhelmed?
UA: What if I don’t have to be in control of this right now?
TW: What if I could trust that things are going to work out for the best?
TH: Maybe in ways I can’t even imagine right now?
EB: I choose to replace fear with faith.
SE: I choose to breathe deeply.
UE: I choose to enjoy right now.
UN: I choose to recognize that I’m pretty tired.
CH: And maybe sleep would be a good idea.
CB: I choose to let my body relax and unwind.
UA: I choose to let the Universe be in control.
TW: And let myself go back on vacation.
TH: And enjoy some good, solid sleep.
Gwen had stopped crying. She was breathing normally now and said she felt better. She also looked ready to zonk out she was so tired!
I encouraged the two of them to make the bedroom a safe zone where they have a rule not to talk about topics stressful to either of them. I also suggested a rule of no heavy topic discussions after 11 p.m. The body is often too tired to think clearly at that point so discussions can turn into arguments and misunderstandings too quickly.
They agreed. I said good-night to both of them and went back to my room.
I did some tapping on myself the next day about fear that she would have another panic attack in the middle of the night, but she didn’t. We enjoyed the rest of our vacation with no other incidents.