It’s been a year since I had a panic attack in a mindfulness class. I think there should be cake at the very least. It’s probably been the strangest year of my adult life. A whole host of emotions tumbling through my head and a roller-coaster of feelings. This particular panic attack was a low point.
I signed up for the course, it was meant to be personal development, assertiveness and mindfulness, a bit of a mix. As I was going through my pinball stage bouncing from one idea to another and looking for something to fix me I went along. I’ve since realised there was no ‘one thing’ to fix me and most of the answers were inside me anyway but I digress.
There I was in a room with various difference people including Lucy. The ‘teacher’ kept getting one mans name wrong and I remember being angry about it. After all there were only about 8 people there. I listened intently to this guru waiting to see the light. The downside came when we were asked to draw hearts with all our positive traits. I couldn’t think of one thing that I liked about myself. So I sat there with my blank piece of paper. Yer woman was telling me there must be something I was good at, then she asked me what my dogs thought of me. I remember thinking at least one of us in this room is barking 😉 pun intended.
I said I didn’t want to do this exercise but there must have been some strict regime for the course and she couldn’t leave it. On and on her voice went about how wonderful we all were and to write it all on paper for the class to see. My leg decided to start shaking – it must have been quite noticeable because Lucy told me to stop, bless her she had no idea this was the first sign of a panic attack for me.
Still the droning of yer woman went on. “Come on Val”, she said, “write down all your positives, everything you are good at, all your talents.” The leg shaking got worse, the pain appeared in my chest and I knew I had to leave the room. I told her I needed to go to the bathroom and got up from my chair. It would have been OK if I could have left the room but the door handle was stuck and I couldn’t open the door.
I tried and tried and panicked big time, the handle wasn’t budging. Yer wan came over to help me and at this stage I was very agitated, gasping for breath and starting to sob. The door opened and I flew down the stairs – the bloody woman flew after me! She just couldn’t leave it. I locked myself in the toilet and had her banging on the door. I heard Lucy calling me and she was told to go back upstairs, thankfully she didn’t. It just then dawned on yer woman that Lucy was my daughter, obviously the fact we both had the same unusual surname didn’t make her think or that we came in together…..
The door banging continued, which really wasn’t helping as it was bringing back long hidden childhood memories. In the end I opened the door to get her to go away. She grabbed me in a hug – my idea of hell unless I initiate it or I like you. I didn’t like her so I was freaked. She was still going on about all the positives about me. Jaysus talk about a dog with a bone! The final straw came when she said “Oh come on at least you’ve got nice hair!”
She seemed genuinely surprised when Lucy and I left. I was a slobbering wreck and if it wasn’t for Lucy I don’t know how I would have got home. To this day neither the woman who took the course or the well known partnership who ran it have contacted me to see how I am. I sent the partnership an email a few months afterwards to suggest they vet people to see if this course is suitable for them. I would hate to see anyone go through what I went through.
Looking back it is quite amusing but at the time it really wasn’t. If there’s a moral to the story I’d say I might not be good at much but at least I have nice hair.
Yeah the mindfulness craze was rolled out way two fast ,and there has been some people ending up developing serious problem s after retreats.
I don’t think the course leader was being at all mindful.
A terrible experience for you – really sorry it happened and not the first time I’ve heard this from people who have attended a ‘mindfulness’ course.
Hope your anniversary finds you in a better space x
Beautiful, raw, honest. Brave. Thanks for sharing.
Yes, cake… AND champagne!