1 month before my 29th birthday, I was laid off work and had time to re-evaluate my life. I remembered that I quit high school wrestling because of anxiety and avoided joining martial arts as the feelings of anxiety took over at the mere thought. I was watching a show called Fight Quest, where the 2 hosts trained in a martial art and then tested their skills. As I watched the episode on Krav Maga, I was drawn to it and knew that I had to join. I found Krav Maga BC and booked a trial class for the next day. The class was difficult, but I found the trainers to be genuine people that cared, I had a feeling this class was right for me, so I signed up.
The first classes were physically demanding, but I was happy to be there. My 3rd class is where I was really tested.
In the middle of class, I started a drill and 20 seconds into it, the walls felt like the were closing in on me, my heart was going to explode and I could only focus on the exit. I was having a panic attack, ran out of the gym, and dropped to the lobby floor. The head instructor Danny ran out to see if I was OK. I told him that I was fine and that everything was good.
He didn’t leave and pointed out that I was not fine, I lying on the floor and having trouble breathing. This was the moment where I could not hide anymore, I felt like after being on the run for years, I was completely exhausted, and couldn’t continue hiding, I needed to come clean. The thoughts were flooding my mind, if I told him, what would he say, how would he react? I told Danny that I had panic attacks and it felt like a 1,000 pound boulder had been lifted off. The first question he asked was what I needed to feel safe as he didn’t want to lose me as a student. This was unbelievable as I had played out people’s reactions countless times before and they were never supportive, could it be that people wanted to help and wouldn’t judge me?
I had mixed emotions, excited that I had this personal breakthrough and angry because I thought the panic attacks were a thing of the past. I went back to class and found everyone to be supportive and participated in the remaining drills and the students pushed me to fight through and complete the drills. After class Danny approached me and told me that if I ever had a panic attack during a drill, he would step in and end the drill. I decided that this was my opportunity to fight my panic attacks…literally.
From this day forward, I continue to run, but instead of running away from panic, I’m running towards it.