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© Colette Carner 2014.

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Just Be Patient

There is a little prayer which says, “Please God give me patience, and I want it right now.” Just how long does it take to recover from panic disorder? Certainly many people wonder, especially in the early or severe stages, if recovery is even possible. Even though there are several medications now and a deeper understanding of the condition, most agoraphobics would agree that there is still no quick cure.

It is encouraging to read in books and online newsletters that other phobics have gone places that they haven't gone in years. It is even more satisfying to make progress yourself and experience the joy of being out and about. But that taste of freedom can make you yearn for more. A Whopper can be a treat, but you could be craving a lobster feast. It's great to drive a mile, but your next appointment might be across town. It's nice to buy your own socks at the dollar store, but maybe you would like to see the new styles at the mall.

It can be tempting to compare yourself to others: so-and-so can go to restaurants and so-and-so can drive everywhere. But remember that you are not so-and-so. No one has had you particular life or your specific experiences. You are unique. Your share of troubles and joys is your own.

It might be tempting to settle. You could think that going just to small stores is good enough or driving in your neighborhood should satisfy you. This concept bakes my cookies. Limitations make me angry. My friend, Mary, has given me excellent advice by suggesting that I use energy as motivation. Instead of staying angry, I could get out there and take a step toward bringing me to my long-range goals.

Ironically, a third possible trap can be attempting to do too much. Sometimes I try too hard. I want it all right now. My desire is to do everyday tasks in ordinary ways. My dream is to return to work at a job for which I was trained. The trick is to remember that facing your fears can take a lot of energy. Being tired or practicing too many days in a row can lead to more anxiety and discouragement. If I allow myself a break, a real rest, I can accomplish more in the long run.

It comes back to patience. Wherever you are in your recovery, whether at your front door or half way across town, don't give up. How long it will take to recover is one of life's mysteries. For me, I admit, it can't come soon enough.

Jardine Miller