My name is Geert (try to pronounce that in English ;-) ).
Born and raised in Brussels, Belgium. The country in the heart of Europe with cities like Bruges, Brussels and stuff like chocolats, beers and yes, Brussels sprouts.
My panic attacks started at around the age of 9. I was pretty careless before that age and had some real good fun every day, lots of friends and no worries at all. I was only afraid of the boogeyman in my closet. But at that age I had a first real panic attack, during the Holidays. The symptoms where so debilitating that I’ll never forget it.
I didn’t get what was happening to me. It felt as if I couldn’t control what I was feeling. That was frustrating, since at the same time I tried to hide it from other people, I didn’t want to ruin their night or become the center of attention. I had severe dizziness; my vision was starting to get pitch black, as if I was going to faint and even loose consciousness. I had nausea; a pounding heart and I could see my skin was turning red.
This came back the following years every now and then, and then became a lot worse at around the age of 16. I started getting it everywhere where I wasn’t supposed to leave whenever I wanted: restaurants, movie theaters, public transportation, airplanes, waiting rooms, queues, family get togethers.... I got a feeling as if I was in a cave and couldn’t get out. At first I thought I had claustrophobia, but that didn’t make any sense, I wasn’t in a tight cave...movie theaters are big. I was at a loss and didn’t get what was wrong.
It quickly started to dawn on me that the other people played a major role in what I was feeling. It was their opinion I was afraid of, combined with a severe fear of all of the symptoms I was feeling. What would they think of me if they saw it? Wouldn’t they think I was weak? Or strange? And what the heck was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I be ‘normal’ like other people and just have fun?
How was I ever going to be a good dad, husband, have a great career if I would continue to feel like this?
I just didn’t get it.
By the age of 18 I had it just about everywhere that was more than 5 miles from my home, my safe place. My social life was reduced to those events I could absolutely not avoid, like going to class. But I always went straight home after.
The list of symptoms I had, had grown to:
Honestly, if you look at that list of symptoms, who wouldn’t be worried?
These symptoms gave me panic attack after panic attack and the most frustrating part was that my doctors, I saw many of them, never found anything. I was in good health. They asked me to not to worry so much.
Other people didn’t seem to get it. They told me to ‘man up’, or to think about something else. As a result, I started to loose friends quickly. I don’t blame them, it wasn’t fun hanging out with me at that time. The panic attacks could strike at any moment and whenever they asked me to join them somewhere, I declined, using one of my many excuses I used at the time.
I had a ton of fear of the fear. I was afraid to feel bad again, to be somewhere where I couldn’t escape when I wanted to. And, on top of that I developed a social phobia that made me continuously worry about what other people thought of me.
By 2003, I had developed a full agoraphobia. I only fell safe in my own house.
I felt so powerless. That powerlessness was one of the most irritating side effects of my anxiety and panic attacks. I felt like I had no control, like I couldn’t decide what would happen to me. Walking into a meeting room, into an airplane, a restaurant, even just leaving me house was a big step into the unknown. I didn’t know when and if my symptoms and accompanying anxiety would occur and the thought of that made me even more anxious.
In 2004, the pinnacle year panic attack wise, it got so bad that I even had panic attacks in my own bed, combined with a generalized anxiety disorder that made me feel anxious 24/7.
That year I said: “Look, Geert, that’s it! I’ve had enough of this. I want you to do whatever it takes to get over this. WHATEVER IT TAKES! I want my old life back, I want to live and have fun, I only live once.”
I got so motivated that I started to take action. I’ll spare you the details of that trial and error period, but it was a long process of a couple of months, talking to a ton of panic attack survivors, testing things, trying mental techniques and more. Then, by December 2004, I realized hadn’t had a panic attack for months.
I still recall going to a movie theater with the 2 friends I had left and as I sat there, I was waiting for the panic attack, that had always come in the past. It didn’t. What a victory! It felt better than anything I had ever achieved before. I was free.
If you still suffer from panic attacks, anxiety or phobias, your victory moment will still come. That will be a feeling that you will never forget. The chains will be lifted, you’ll be free again to do whatever it is you want and live your life to the fullest.
You might wonder why I called my site “I Love Panic Attacks”. Well, although they’ve made me feel very dark and depressed when I still had them, I feel so blessed and grateful each and every single day since 2004. I’m much happier than I would have ever been if it weren’t for the panic attacks, truth be told.
And there’s more. Overcoming my anxiety and panic attacks has taught me the power of my own mind. It taught me how to control and manage my emotions, it has given me the o so important “Emotional Intelligence”. So it didn’t just end with overcoming my panic attacks, that was only the start. Doors and possibilities opened up that I would have never had if I wouldn’t have been forced to learn how to manage my own emotions and dismiss the negative ones.
Are you excited yet?
I hope you are.
In 2005 I started to help a couple of people who still suffered from panic attacks. I wanted to figure out if what I had done would work for other people as well, or if I just had gotten lucky. When that was successful and they were able to get on with their lives too, I felt confident that the methods I had developed and used on myself, didn’t just work on me. I then recorded everything I knew and created the first edition of my audio course. A lot of people from all over the world have followed that audio course and this course is still very successful to this day. You can learn more about it right here.
No matter what type of anxiety you have, you’ll find lots of techniques on this website and in the course that you can start to apply right now. They will make you stronger than you’ve ever been before. I mean that. There is a tremendous power in your brain, it’s already present, that you’re not using yet. Your thoughts are currently your greatest enemy, they are maintaining and even creating the anxiety. Those thoughts, when you start to direct them, will become your greatest ally that will push you forward in each and every area of your life.