I am now 52 years of age. After the birth of my second child, on my twenty third
birthday, I was rushed from the office where I worked, to the emergency room, certain that I
was having a heart attack. It was a very traumatic experience. After several days of tests and
more attacks, my family doctor said he was convinced that it was my nerves and started me
on a tranquilizer. He told my aunt that he had seen many women in the shape I was in, but
never one as young as I was.
Back at home, I was trying to cope with taking care of a four year old son, a four and
one half month old daughter, a home and husband, and still the attacks continued daily. I
would even wake up in the middle of the night having them and the attacks absolutely
terrified me. The prescribed medication only added to my problems, making me groggy and
I slept a lot. My doctor recommended two neurologists. They hospitalized me, put me on
an anti-depressant, and gave me four shock treatments. I returned home, no better than when
I entered the hospital. The ordeal was just something else to endure. My dad took me to his
heart specialist. I spent three days in a different hospital having more tests. There was
nothing wrong with my heart and he didnít know why I was having these attacks. By this
time, I was absolutely hysterical. We had balances of doctors and hospital bills after the
insurance paid, and I couldnít stay by myself with the children anymore.
About two years after my first panic attack, my mother took me to our local mental
health clinic. I was so dizzy on the day I went, that she had to help me up the stairs. I
begged the psychologist to help me. I was afraid that I was going to die and no one could
find out what was wrong with me. He admitted me to a good hospital in St. Louis, Missouri,
just a short distance from where I live in Illinois. I was prescribed a new anti-depressant and
given eight more shock treatments. I came home after a month, as ill as I was when I
entered that hospital.
No one knew what to do with me. I was very ill, yet I struggled back to work and took
care of my family the best that I could. I had the attacks on the job and tried to not let
anyone find out. One day, however, I had a very severe one and I mentioned to a lady in the
office that I wasnít feeling well. (Actually that was quite an understatement. If you have
never had a real full-blown anxiety attack, you canít just imagine what it is like.) She took
my arm to help me and immediately felt my strong pulse which was going so fast I couldnít
have counted it. It scared her and she tried to get me to sit down. I pulled away and very
slowly walked toward the outside where the fresh air was because the attacks make me feel
as if I am having a problem breathing. The nurse drove me home. She asked me if I had a
heart problem, and I replied that I didnít. They gave me a medical termination.
My dad told me that I had not been alive for the past two years. I had only been
existing. One night when I stopped by to visit, he opened a can of beer and told me to drink
it. ĎDad,í I said, ĎI donít like beer.í
ĎDrink some of it,í he repeated. It tasted terrible, but after I had drank about a third of
a can I felt relaxed. I could sit there and talk with my dad and I wasnít shaking. I was not on
any mediation, because nothing had helped me. My husband bought some beer, and
whenever I felt an attack coming on, I would drink some of it. Just a third of a can would
take away my symptoms.
I thought the beer was a Godsend. I could go to the store and get my groceries. I could
take care of my home and family. I could lead pretty much a normal life. And no one knew,
except my husband that it was because of the alcohol. I drank for ten years. By the end of
that time, the alcohol had a hold of me, I no longer had control of it. I remember a two week
period when I stayed drunk all of the time, and I didnít want to live anymore.
I was raised in the Catholic church, but was not a Christian. I had tried praying a lot in
the early years of my illness but figured that God didnít hear me. I believed in God; I just
didnít know who Jesus was.
I knew I probably wouldnít live much longer drinking the way that I was, and I
couldnít believe that my life had turned out the way it had. So one day I decided I better talk
to God. I got on my knees in the middle of my living room and I talked to him from my
heart. I saw things in myself that I had never seen before Ė how I had held grudges against
people and never really forgave. I told him about my life and that I didnít know how I got to
be that way, but I didnít want to be that way anymore. I told him that I just wanted to love
people. I was crying and holding my arms up. Strange, but I never prayed like that before.
When I got up from my knees, I was a different person. He delivered me from alcohol, nail-
biting, bad language, fear, and probably things I donít even know about. It wasnít like I said
to myself, Well, I have had this talk with God, so now I have to clean up my act. I
could not have done that. All of it was just GONE. I thought, oh, there really is a God, and
Iím probably the only person this has ever happened to. (REALLY, NOW!.....I am still
amazed at thinking those things.
I still did not know what had really happened to me. You see, I didnít know what
being Ďborn againí was. I donít think I remembered ever having heard the term.
A few days after my experience with God, I was driving along with this sweet peace
that had enveloped me when I had to stop behind a car at a red light. The car had a bumper
sticker that said JESUS LOVES YOU. I was looking right at it, but I wasnít really seeing
what it said. All of a sudden, something inside of me, said to me, ĎWhat does that say?í So,
then I really let it register: JESUS LOVES ME. Oh! A day or so later, I was in my living
room when something made me think. There is a program called the 700 club that your
aunt told you about. I immediately switched on the TV and low and behold, there was
Pat Robertson! I had no idea at what time the 700 club came on or on what station. Of
course, I heard about being born again that day. I hit my knees and kept being born again
over and over every day for a long time.
The strangest thing, I still had the panic attacks and I knew that God didnít want me to
drink anymore. I didnít know how I was going to get through them without drinking. So
when the first one hit after I was saved, I just got on my knees and the Lord got me through.
I was better for some years and only had mild symptoms. However, after about 5 years, I
started to become much worse.
I was house-bound for a month. I even had a problem taking out the trash. One day,
however, I asked John to drive me to a store. While I was there, a woman I had gone to
school greeted me. I asked how she had been and she replied, ĎGreat! Iím doing great! The
doctor put me on a new medication and I donít have those panic attacks that Iíve had for
years. I can go anywhere and do anything and they just donít happen.í You can imagine my
amazement. I didnít know that she had suffered from panic attacks for years, and she didnít
know that I had too, nor that I had not left my house for a month; only Jesus knew. I made
an appointment with her doctor and he prescribed Nardil. It inhibits the brain from
producing the chemical which is causing the panic attacks. That was nearly sixteen years
ago, and I have never had another panic attack. I had prayed for the Lord to completely heal
me. He decided to do it this way. I donít question his decision. I have had such compassion
for people suffering from the panic attacks, because I knew what it was like, and I told the
Lord that if I could help anyone, to lead me to them. So far, he has led me to at least three
women who had suffered for years with panic attacks. They have been on this medication
for years now and are free of the attacks. There have also been people who I have told about
the doctor that I see. And he has helped them regain a normal life.