Author’s Note: Writing this post was hard for me, because it made me relive what happened to me last summer that shook my world and turned it upside down.  Yet, in sharing this, I am letting go of the past and looking towards the bright future.  In sharing this post, I hope it helps anyone who has personally dealt with or knows someone who has experienced something similar.  It is quite a read in length, but sets the tone for my blog as a whole.  It is the basis of why I am who I am today.

Panic attacks:  I have had mini ones throughout my life before; however, the frequency was minimal: maybe once or twice a year.  To what I can recall, they happened when maybe I was very upset, scared and/or felt helpless.  And so, with these extreme feelings, they came on.  Yes, I went through the motions –shortness of breath, hands freezing up– but they subsided within a couple of minutes.

When I met my husband, he didn’t know this happened to me.  It’s not something I would exactly bring up and mention (it was a bit embarrassing).  But, he ended up learning what it was all about that one fall day (we were still dating at the time).  We ended up arguing about something and I ended up having an attack  —  I felt too overwhelmed.  Panicked himself, he rushed me to the ER and it was there that he learned that I needed to be calmed down and that I just had a panic attack.  And so he calmed me down.  The following year, someone in my family was rushed to the ER for something and there I was, panicking outside of the hospital, because I didn’t know how to take it.  And, again, my husband helped calm me down.  Of course I thought this was scary, but with a frequency of once a year, I didn’t really pay much mind to it.  I thought it was just a fluke I had and off I went to continue living my life.

Fast forward through live events, moments that have made me feel uncomfortable, ideas other people had about me that I let get to me, and me pretending to be someone I wasn’t.  Yes, fast forward to last summer when I was sitting at work and had the hiccups.

I had them for about 2 hours (seriously, they would not go away).  But it was okay and I sucked it up.  At the end of the day, I boarded the train home and sat in-between two people.  However, the car was packed.  It was hot.  I had people breathing down on me.  And I still had the hiccups.

Trying to lessen their [the hiccups’] annoyance, I tried to hold my breath and, when they came, tried to quiet them down.  I knew that my body jumping was annoying the people all around me, not to mention the little whimpers of “hic-cup,”  so I kept trying harder and harder until I felt that I was short of air.  Everything started to close up, I felt like I needed oxygen.  Desperately, I got up, pushed some people to the side, squeezed my way through, and ran to the end of the car and called my husband:

“I can’t breathe!” I said.  “I can’t move, it is too crowded, this train keeps moving, I cannot get off, I am going to pass out!”
“Calm down, you will be okay,” he then said.

And so, there I was, breathing, in a panic, not knowing what to do.  Finally, the train doors opened up, and I ran straight out of there and into a local drug store that had some air conditioning.  Once inside, I walked up and down the aisles; my mind was racing and I was so afraid of passing out that I called my husband again and told him that he needed to pick me up as soon as possible.  I then proceeded to call my father, who tried to calm me down and told me to go into the bathroom and splash water on my face and then the crown of my head.  He could sense the panic in my voice and then said that he was going to come and pick me up from the pharmacy.  I dunked my head into a pool of water I made in the bathroom sink.  I looked like I just came out of the shower.  But I didn’t care.  I didn’t know how to care.  I didn’t know what was going on.

*Takes a moment to take a deep breath*  Just writing about this is making me anxious, but I’m breathing (something I learned) and it’s all going away.  In….and out…..  Okay, I can continue this story.

While I waited for someone to arrive to pick me up, I drank about three bottles of water to hydrate myself.  Finally, my husband came.  When I saw him, I was relieved, but needed a distraction.  I ran inside the car and demanded he make out with me to calm me down (my mind was not processing correctly).  The making out didn’t work.  My hands quickly became so numb.  My fingers started to contour into permanent bends at angles I didn’t even know existed!  My shortness of breath sent a panic signal to my body, so now all of my blood and oxygen was rushing to my core, a body’s response to preserve the internal organs.  And all I could remember was that I was extremely thirsty, extremely scared, and extremely not myself anymore.

My family ended up taking me home.  The elevator in my building complex wasn’t working, so my dad ended up carrying me up two floors via the stairs, and then my husband for the remaining three floors.  They plopped me in front of the air conditioner and tried to get me to calm down.  I eventually did so about three hours later and everyone went home.  But there I was, no longer pale as a ghost, but scared.

*Taking another deep inhale in here*

The following day (and the next couple of weeks were just horrible).  I demanded my husband stay home from work because I could not be alone (think hardcore tears, bloodshot eyes, and lots of screaming).  I was afraid of being alone.  Better yet, it had seemed that I scared myself so much, that I was afraid of leaving my apartment.  I could not face stepping foot into the hallway.  I would cry and run back into the apartment.  My husband practiced with me for hours on end taking one, two, three steps away from the door and then walking down one, two, and then three steps down one staircase.  I was afraid of the outside world.  I was afraid of this thing happening to me again.  I cannot begin to tell you how many attempts I made trying to leave my building complex.  I had to take off from work for about two weeks.  I needed to be driven into work when I could finally walk outside, and then escorted for the remaining days of summer.  It took about another month for me to finally be able to walk around the block.  I did not know who I was anymore.  I seriously had something wrong with me at that point.  I could not believe how my world was flipped upside down with that one incident.

And that was the problem.  I thought of it was a one-time thing that changed my whole life.  But it wasn’t.  Truth be told, all those mini panic attacks and fears I had were all warning signs.  I just always chose to ignore them.  I always told myself that it was something that would pass and that it didn’t define me.  I made it part of my life, this discomfort.  Which was so wrong of me.  Because I neglected myself.  I never made the time to take care of myself and learn to let go.  I always had to be an independent person and live up to other people’s expectations.  I could never let them down – oh, no.  I had to be ‘perfect.’  And through all of this, all of the lying to my own self and not speaking up for who I was and what I wanted to do, led me to this giant explosion and state of panic that I wish I never, ever, have to go through again.

And so I let my guards down.  I opened up to who I was inside.  I started to see a therapist.  I sought valuable advice from those very close to me. I decided to take control of my life.  And I am who you see before you today.  I took up yoga and think it’s amazing because it forced me to slow down and listen to my body, mind, and soul.  It has opened up a sense of greater clarity that I never saw inside of myself before.  It has made me start this blog to track my progression.  I am not one hundred percent ‘healed’ yet, but I am slowly getting there.  The panic attack last summer made me afraid of the heat (but I got through some of that fear (yay!) which you can read about here), it made me fear moving fast and making my heart beat fast because it reminded me of the attack (which you can read about here), and it also made me afraid of traveling far distances away from home.  I can no longer see myself getting on a plane because I am afraid (I loved to fly, I was on at least 4-6 flights a year!).  But, I know that one day I will get there.  (I will post about my Washington, D.C. trip in my next post, because it was emotional trip that helped me see that I am progressing).

Point is, if you see the warning signs, don’t ignore them.  Yes, the past is the past.  But we shouldn’t ignore it.  Instead, we have to learn from it.  We need to live in the present and build ourselves up for success in the future.  Which will be an amazing life of less anxiety.  I made a promise to myself that I would give myself a chance and take care of me first and foremost.  I still have daily headaches and things to take care of (think responsibilities), but I am learning how to take it easy and organize it all.  How to live life to its fullest.  Because we only have one life to live on this beautiful planet.  And it’s only up to us to make it better for ourselves.  The hard work comes from deep inside of ourselves and the benefits.. oh the benefits.. they will set you free.

My giant panic attack last summer was a real eye-opening event.  I was putting a lot of stress on myself throughout the years in terms of body, mind, and soul.  So much that they all finally retaliated.  I wish this experience on no one, but what I do wish is that we all take care of ourselves.  Be brave with me.  See the warning signs, and see that we are worth it.  See that a good life is a happy, balanced one.  We will all get there.  It takes time.  And in the end, we will all laugh and enjoy life together.

Don’t worry about annoying someone else with the hiccups, because at the end of the day, they are happening to you.  Take care of you.  Take care of your life.

August 2013 – weeks after my giant panic attack. I was comfortable being outside again.. my husband captured me doing a twirl.
August 2013 – weeks after my giant panic attack. I was comfortable being outside again.. my husband captured me doing a twirl.

Loren.

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  1. Hi, this is a long ways out considering it is now 2019 but I would just like to share a similar experience. Just recently maybe about a month ago, I experienced my first ever, real life panic attack. I had all the worry signs beforehand for YEARS now that I think about it. But, just like you I let them pass considering they wouldn’t lead to anything serious. Anyway, when the panic attack happened out of nowhere in the middle of an average work day, I was so scared. I was alone with no friends or family nearby (besides the people at my work) because I was away for an internship. All alone I faced the before, during and after of this attack. Yes I went to the hospital because I felt like I was maybe going to die. But that’s what panic attacks feel like I guess.
    But to get to my point, I too was enlightened. Since that day I’ve stopped smoking e-cigs; knowing and realizing how much they effected not just my physical health but my mental too. I am much more keen and precise with my decision making, it feels almost as if I know the answer or can easily figure out a solution to any problem or question. I know exactly what I like and what I don’t like, what I’m good at and what I’m not so good at. It just feels like my mind has opened up to a whole new level of reasoning and understanding that people who haven’t experience something similar to this just can’t and won’t ever understand or feel! The after effects so far seem only to be positive for me which is so strange since panic attacks, I thought, were meant to harm not help?
    That’s my story, shared with only a few of my closest friends but a story I wish to share with more people one day. Your story is inspiring and relatable to more people than you can imagine. Thank you and do feel free to contact me if you ever read this.

    1. Hi, Nick! Thank you so much for taking your time to read the post and for leaving such an inspiring comment!! True, this was published back in 2014, but the reason why I published it online was so that it can live on forever– and I am so beyond happy and elated that it has resonated with you (literally, your comment has made my day). Your story has warmed my heart as I can sense the strength you have. This is beautiful; you truly were enlightened and continue to be so with your bravery every day. The answers to any problem or question comes from you being *you*, the clarity you now see inside yourself. Not afraid to live. Not afraid to say what you mean. To give yourself the love and attention you deserve. You love yourself and that is incredibly beautiful. I’ve come to the conclusion that having anxiety is a blessing in disguise, because it allows us to be super alert to things that we may have passed up in the past as being “nothing”; but, actually, it is everything. Noticing just one little habit or thing that we used to do, and changing it (with small, baby steps), on a daily basis leads to big, amazing changes. It leads to a more fulfilled life, the one that we want. Congratulations to you and this beautiful new sense of clarity! It is incredibly freeing! I encourage you to continue the positive practices you have been doing (I know you will) and to continue being gentle with yourself. Remember, every day is an opportunity to learn. Every day is an opportunity to grow. Constant positive personal growth is, what I find, the key to leading a happy, anxiety-free life. Thank you for sharing with me your story. Thank you for opening up. You are amazing. And you’ve inspired *me*. Happy, happy, HAPPY new year!! :).

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T.

The road trip that made me sob– happily.

Road trips.

Sure, they are fun to some, but after my giant anxiety attack last summer, I grew afraid of them.  So much that I didn’t want to leave NYC.  At all.  But we shouldn’t live our lives like that, right?  Because it limits us.  And fear shouldn’t limit us.  No, it should enable us.

Within the past 6 months, the only long trips I have gunned myself up to make were to Connecticut (a one and-a-half hour drive away) and then to Pennsylvania (a two hour drive away).  And, to be honest, those trips were very difficult for me.  On my way up to Connecticut, I had to listen to Christmas Carols because they made my environment seem more cheerful and pleasant.  It made me feel like I was living  in a magical world where there could be no harm.  That I wasn’t going to be harmed.  And then on my way to Pennsylvania?  I had to eat to keep my mind occupied (think: nothing is wrong with you, you have food and water –basic things humans need to survive in this world– you will not die) and want to make conversations in the car never stop (they were great conversations, I must add!), so much that I could remain ‘distracted’ with them and not realize that I was actually traveling further and further away from home.

But we can’t live that way.  I can’t live that way.  So, in an effort to enjoy life and face my fear, my husband and I ended up taking a trip to Washington D.C.  last weekend (which, I must mention, was a four hour drive), and you could only imagine my cringing.  Pre-giant panic attack, I would have never been bothered with lengthy travel times.  I looked forward to them!  But that isn’t the case these days.  And that wasn’t the case this past weekend.  So, I made sure to stock up on snacks (!) and off we went.  Interestingly enough, though, as we were on the road, I wasn’t worrying  too much about the distance away from home.  No.  I felt the benefits of leading a healthy, active life.  Which, in turn, has lead me to develop a healthy, active mind.  Because it make me think that maybe I am stronger than I give myself credit for.  And the truth is, we all are stronger that what we give ourselves credit for.  Reaching the end of the trip, I realized that I didn’t munch on snacks to trick my mind nor did I keep a conversation going for hours on end; I actually enjoyed some of the silence in the car.  And get this, I didn’t even have to crack the window open to feel the ‘fresh air’ outside (yeah, in the past, I had to do this because I would  feel claustrophobic and stuck inside of an enclosed car.  I needed to ‘feel’ the free, outside world).  No, on this road trip, I was calmer than usual.  And when we finally made it to Washington D.C., I cried.

As we drove past the Potomac River, I had a sense of awe and, in a sense, a feeling of enlightenment.  So much that I broke down and, actually, started to sob.  My husband thought it was funny at first, but it’s important to let others know that what may seem like little accomplishments to them, are actually huge, life-changing things to you.  And that’s exactly what I did.  I explained how I was so proud of myself for not freaking out on the way down, remembering to breath, and taking it easy.  I must have sobbed for a good five minutes and, interestingly enough, when I was crying, I pictured myself like those people on TV that get a brand new house built for them and their family.  I was thinking of those tears.  Because I could never understand how something that makes someone so happy could cause them to cry so much.  And last Friday, I understood what that feeling was like.  And I respected it and let it come out.  I didn’t hold it in.  I didn’t care if I looked like a ‘fool’ or thought about what anyone else would have said if they saw me.  I was living for me.  I was living in the present.  And I was taking in all of that good feeling and letting tears of stress, relief, and happiness out.

Don’t let a little fear that you have stop you from living the life you want to live.  Don’t let how you may look to others get in the way of showing yourself how you truly look.  Because it’s from this understanding of our own self that we could really start to take the steps in developing and becoming our best self.  Personally, I feel that it is at these moments of surpassing an obstacle and allowing yourself to feel ‘vulnerable’ to your own self, that you really get to appreciate what’s on the other side (and you do feel the benefits).  Imagine if I stayed home and didn’t want to venture out?  I would have missed out on all of the fun I had this weekend (some posted in the photos below!).  And what about if a future five-hour, six-hour trip comes into play?  Well, that won’t stop me.  Oh no, it will only continue to prep me for my best life yet.

loren lincoln

 

loren uscapitolLive your best life.  And if you find yourself sobbing from self-enlightenment and/or self-success, allow it to come, sob happily.

Loren.

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2.

2018: Goodbye NYC, Hello New Zealand!

…and I don’t mean it just as a vacation. Family & friends, it is with great excitement and joy that we share with you all that we are leaving everything we know about NYC behind and heading off on an adventure abroad for the year!

We are moving to New Zealand!!

There have been so many factors that played into our decision: one of them was attending a Tony Robbins seminar (that post coming next!), another was experiencing the beautiful culture in Denmark last summer (gosh, I love that bicycle life), and another was that, frankly, I have been left feeling a little uninspired by NYC lately. Nothing against the concrete jungle, but maybe that’s my problem: too much concrete.

I don’t know if I ever shared this, but there were two times in my life that I literally sobbed on the plane as we took off: once was when I wheeled up from France after studying abroad there (oh, the tears!), and second was when we left Denmark (how could I live without all the pastries and that bike life?!). I started noticing a pattern and it drew up a concern for me: why was I crying so hard? And what was it about those countries that made me want to stay forever?

In my efforts to understand myself, it was clear that those other places (and travel in general), always filled a void of unpredictability, new adventures and new customs/cultures. When I landed, it was like a game of strategy in which you must survive, learn the rules and get excited about all the different things happening around you. I know NYC is a giant melting pot, but having been born and raised here, it all has just started to feel and become a little, well, predictable. I already know we are all celebrating the fourth of July no matter what state in the country I am in. And while I love traveling around the country (the USA is beautiful), I am seeking something more.

It occured to me that in order for me to continue to grow, continue to be inspired and continue to love deeper, I need to get out. NYC, USA, it’s not you, it’s me; we need a break. You will always be my home, but I feel that distance will make the heart grow fonder. You give such great opportunities that I have yet to be thankful for. The opportunities are endless and you can be whoever you want to be; yet, I’m not grabbing anything by the horns.

So why New Zealand? Well, why the heck not?!

xx,

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