If you refuse medical treatment like me, then the best cure for panic attack is crying and sleeping. You literally cry and sleep your way out of the acute pain in your heart, the tightness around your chest, and the heaviness of your brain. Crying is a biological response to the need for chemical release. We release stress hormones when we cry. We excrete tears as we sweat and urine. Just as sweat removes excess salts from the body and cools us down, tears also have a biological purpose. The only problem is; you don’t pee in your pants. And you don’t cry in the public.
When tears gush forth as a natural response after my panic attack episode, it’s not easy for me to go to Mass. I always get emotional during the service even in the perfectly healthy state. I didn’t know if my body was capable of receiving the divine movement of the Holy Spirit, but skipping Mass is never an option.
As predicted, I cried the entire time during Mass. A very nice elderly lady was sitting next to me, and sensing my tears, she gave me a big smile and warm hand squeeze. And surprisingly, I received something that even my parents or my sister could not provide. I received the power of understanding from that momentary consolation of a stranger sitting next to me in the church. Her deep understanding was there even though she had no knowledge of why I was crying. She didn’t question, she didn’t add anxiety to my already burdened heart by worrying. She knew nothing about me. All she knew was that I was distressed for a reason that is unknown to her, and that I was being consoled and healed by the power of the Holy Spirit. All she did was giving me a warm smile, and covering my cold hand with her warm, soft, wrinkly hand. But the interaction between us was so out of this world. She had power to reach out to me in the most deepest way. And I knew that it was the miracle of the Holy Sprit working through her.
During the Holy Communion, I was surprised to receive two pieces of bread. I wondered for a minute if it was intentional or a simple mistake by my priest. I sensed my priest noticing my tears during his sermon. But is this permissible? Giving two pieces or more to those who appear to be in a spiritually weak state? Is this like prescribing extra dosage? I had no way of knowing whether it was intentional or not, but I was beyond grateful. I needed those. I think I would have gulped down the entire bowl of communion bread if I could.
I left the church and started driving back home. I noticed that a Subaru Outback was cruising right in front of my vehicle. Strangely, the same model in different color was guiding my way to the church on my way to the Mass. That reminded me of my friend E in Hawaii-for she drives Subaru Outback-, who was like a sister to me while I was living on the island alone. E always came to my rescue when I had panic attacks on the island. She took me home on those shattered days of my life. I felt her spirit guiding me. I knew it was God’s way of letting me know, “You are not alone as you think you are.” I know dear friends love me. I know my family loves me. I know God loves me enough to send me His own Son.
I wrote in the book of prayer before leaving the church something that I have never prayed before. I wrote, “God you know my heart. Heal my loneliness.” Just those simple words.
I don’t know what the bottom line is under my recurring panic attack eisodes. I can trace back, and find out so many reasons based on mental, spiritual, and biological reasons. But the truth is, I am desperately lonely. Here, I face another unknown ocean, and I am about to embark on another sailing journey. Though I know God will be with me always, and sail this boat with me as my caption, there is a deep desire in me for another passenger, to ride this out together, someone to share this journey with.
‘You are having a moment of weakness.’, I hear a small voice in me whispering in my ear. Somehow, I do not like the tone of that voice. I know it is not telling me the truth. The truth is that I am having a moment of humanness. I am a voice in the wilderness crying out to God saying, Holy, my God. Hold me, your child.
And hold me, he does. He more than holds me. He upholds me.
On the drive back home from the Mass, all I could think about was how glad I was to be alive. For just being alive, is a blessing.
I will follow you through green pastures
And sing hallelujah to your name
I will follow you through dark disaster
And sing hallelujah through the pain
Even in the shadow of death I will praise
Even in the valley I will say
Holy, my God
You are worthy of all my praise
Holy, my God
You are worthy of all my praise
– All My Praise, Selah